Forget what your Career advisor told you! What are companies are really looking for when hiring entry-level positions?
We get about ten to twenty resumes a day through our career email at The Riviere Agency from aspiring fashion PR guys and gals looking for their big break. For the fall and spring semester, we typically have anywhere from two to four interns in our New York office and so I know what a superstar intern or coordinator can offer a company besides a love for fashion (everyone says that and honestly, employers really don’t care).
Here are a few things that are guaranteed to make you more marketable as an PR intern or entry-level applicant:
Graphic Design Skills
Fashion PR is rapidly evolving and it is becoming more and more image-focused everyday. A fashion PR firm utilizes design programs to create pitches, design flyers and invites for their clients and create press clippings, which are all tasks that a good intern should be able to at least take a stab at from day one. Candidates with a basic knowledge of Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign have a huge leg up on the competition.
Before your next interview, build up a small portfolio of social media graphics and a flyer or event invite to demonstrate your understanding of design, composition and layout.
How to get them: There are inexpensive and even free courses offered at local community colleges and public libraries, so this is an easy skill to acquire. We love Nicole's Classes as well.
Social Media is quickly becoming a large part of Fashion PR and demonstrating your eye for photography, even if it is just taking iPhone photos, is a huge asset. Get inspired and take style cues from Instagram accounts like @KateSpadeNY and @LuckyMag and start looking at your own Instagram account with the eyes of a fashion editor.
How to get them: You can brush up on your skills by watching YouTube videos, downloading and testing new photo apps, and practicing with your iPhone. If you have a DSLR, many photography schools run local deals regularly. Here is a list of top-rated online photography resources to get you started!
Research and Sleuthing Skills
An intern that can dig up the contact info for a celeb stylist, hard to find media contact or television wardrober is worth her or her weight in gold. Good research skills and a knowledge of how to find stylists, editors and other industry contacts online and through social media platforms will set you apart. If you can demonstrate strong research skills in an interview, a fashion PR internship is yours for the taking.
This also includes doing your research on the company you are applying for. We love it when we can feel a GENUINE excitement from applicants. This does not mean going to the “About Us” section and copying and pasting the mission statement in your cover letter. Trying to understand what the agency really does and the clients they serve by looking at their social media feeds, checking recent news and LinkedIn is key.
How to get them: This is definitely one skill that develops with practice. If you are in school, you should have access to some media databases for free like Cision or Fashion Monitor and they usually offer free online classes and workshops. If you don't have access to a subscription service, you can still make sleuthing a part of your regular routine and keep the information you find in an organized spreadsheet. Next time you watch an awards show, take note of all of the nominees in the actor categories and make it your mission to find their stylist, publicist and manager's contact information using search engines and social media searches. When you read an article online you like, try to find the author's email and save it in an excel spreadsheet with notes on the type of articles they write. It wont be long before you have your own list of contacts that you can take to an interview.
We love intern applicants who have their own blog because it shows a dedication and commitment to writing, design and aesthetics. It also demonstrates at least a basic understanding of the development process for generating editorial content, which is really important for a fashion publicist to grasp. If you include your blog URL in your cover letter or resume, please make sure your blog is current, up to date and you have a a few posts designed to catch our eye! Blogs with lots of typos or that are not aesthetically pleasing can be a detriment. You want your blog to look clean and organized and have good photography. It is best to use a simple layout and proof read all of your blog posts three times before posting them.
How to get them: Stay up-to-date on industry publications like Independent Fashion Bloggers and ProBlogger. Consider investing in a workshop like Create and Cultivate or Secret Blogger's Business. Connect with other local bloggers by joining one of the regional blogging societies or a local Meetup Group for Bloggers.
Public relations requires both interpersonal and external communication skills. In addition to having technical capabilities that are relevant to the needs of an increasingly digital and image-based industry, the applicants that really stand out are able to communicate their strengths, applying their particular set of skills to the job requirements we have posted.
Of course, we don't expect you to know how to do everything! We also appreciate candidates who confidently and honestly share their experience level. Let us feel your genuine interest in learning more about the industry or expanding your current skills and we're likely to take a second look.
How to get them: Put down your smartphone, your tablet and laptop and get out in the community. Consider volunteering for a local charity and joining their communications committee. You will develop your communication skills, build your resume, network and help save the world! If you are not sure where to volunteer, try your local chapter of Dress for Success or Junior League.
PS: Don't miss the brand new virtual course for new publicists from PR Couture called PRISM. We're currently sold out, but are taking names to add a second track - sign up here!
Image via: Workher