After working for fashion giants Tommy Hilfiger and Kenneth Cole and as beauty editor at Life & Style and Seventeen, Stephanie Scott was inspired to create her own public relations and strategic marketing firm, First and Last PR. Her client roster has ranged from seven-time Grammy Award Winning artist Usher to a ten city Gospel Tour with artists such as Fred Hammond and Yolanda Adams.
She is a Board Member of New York Women in Communications Inc. an active member of Cosmetic Executive Women and recently launched her own philanthropic initiative, the First and Last PR Foundation.
How did you get get started in the industry?
I started my career as a beauty editor before working as Director of Public Relations for a luxury skincare company. After a lot of hard work, I was promoted to Global Director of Marketing and Communications, responsible for worldwide communications.
I left after receiving an offer to work with Usher on his OMG tour – which I loved! After the tour ended, I decided to leave entertainment and go back to beauty. I learned so much from that experience and finally had the courage to start my own company. The idea was in my mind for awhile, but I finally decided to just go for it.
What are your primary responsibilities?
I’m responsible for coming up with new and innovative ways to communicate our client’s needs to a broader audience. I help clients explore new business opportunities and strategies to maintain the vision and integrity of the brand.
How is your agency structured?
We work as a true team in an open space for team collaboration and idea building.
What is the mood like in the office? What are you working on right now?
We’re upbeat and happy, but focused on the work. It’s summertime so we have a lot of client launches and events. In addition to public relations and social media, we also work on event planning and production, so it’s usually super busy. We all work closely together for flawless execution and communicate really well for great brainstorm sessions.
What is a recent success story that makes you especially proud?
We launched our First and Last PR Foundation to help educate and empower women in the cosmetics and communications industries. I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of mentors guide me throughout my career and I am honored that we are able to give back as well.
Most meaningful/memorable moment in your career thus far?
Winning PR awards feels really coo (ed. note: First and Last PR won the Community Involvement Petit Award at the BCAs). I don’t believe in doing things to be seen but when you look back and someone says, “great job”, it feels really good.
Most glamorous moment in your career thus far?
That’s a tough question… unloading boxes in a hotel laundry center before an event? I’d have to say having my headshot done by famed photographer Keith Major, who I’ve known since I was a beauty editor. Merrell Hollis did my makeup, Derrick Scurry styled my hair and Leonard Bridges styled my wardrobe. It was magical!
Least glamorous moment in your career thus far?
Unloading those boxes… I had to meet the delivery truck in the loading dock next to the garbage bins. #notsexy
PR can be stressful and full of rejection – how do you deal?
It can be but that’s life. I try to do the right thing all of the time so if something doesn’t go as planned, I can look at the situation and say I tried my best. At the end of the day, that’s all you can do.
What are three current favorite tools that help you to do what you do?
- Canva makes really cool layouts.
- Caato Time Tracker helps keep track of all hours spent on our accounts.
- The iHeart Radio App – I can work without music but prefer to jam when I can. I also use iMovie on my phone to make fun social videos.
What do you wish more people understood about your job?
I wish people understood that I do my job because I love it and I believe in the brands/people we work with. That’s what motivates me. Good people. Being fair to one another and doing the right thing. It has to be good.
Also, great PR takes time. I’ve worked in-house so I understand the need to see immediate ROI. We take a layered approach, but it’s really important to work with your PR team and have realistic expectations. We try to under promise and over deliver, as one of my mentors taught me.
For newbies in the industry, it takes work but that’s how you learn to be great. Everything looks so cool on Instagram and Insta-storiess, but we don’t (usually) post the un-glam stuff.
What are you excited about right now in terms of industry trends?
I love all of the authenticity that we’re seeing lately. It used to be so hard for niche brands to get any shine, but we’re seeing so many innovative brands have a voice. It’s really cool to meet the brains behind the brands and see all of the cool ways that consumers are reacting to them.
What’s the biggest challenge facing fashion/lifestyle communicators right now?
Helping clients decide on the best launch strategies when everyone’s looking for immediate ROI. E-Commerce is more popular than ever right now. I love social media but with the immediacy of Snapchat and Insta-stories, it’s really hard to keep good news quiet. This can be a good thing, but I also love working with editors on larger pieces; I never want anyone to feel scooped.
What advice do you have for your younger self?
I’d tell my earlier self to keep pushing and kicking butt. You’re having fun now but the best is yet to come.
Anything else we should know?
I’m extremely grateful to be able to do what I love. Growing up, I did not know about careers in cosmetics or communications. There’s a whole world available to us. Be creative and limitless in your pursuit of happiness. We recently launched the First and Last PR Foundation and I’m excited to see where this new chapter will lead us and who we will meet.