How to Find and Befriend Freelance Writers

Freelance Fashion Beauty Writers Publicity Press Coverage Media Relations

With the rise of the virtual workplace and reduced editorial staff, many fashion & lifestyle websites and magazines rely on freelance writers to keep up with content demands. While these writers often get stories assigned to them by staffers at the magazine, they can be pitched directly. In fact, most freelancers are regularly pitching story ideas to editors and are expected to have experts and products at the ready once they get the green-light.

Getting in the good graces of influential freelancers is another method to secure media coverage for clients, rather than going straight to a publication. Freelancers I’ve worked with have penned some amazing features on my clients and have since kept them top of mind for a variety of future stories.

I’ve included below some of the greatest benefits of working with freelancers, as well as how to find them.

Benefit #1 – Freelancers write for multiple outlets

Forming a strong relationship with a freelance writer can open the door for your clients at not just one, but many great outlets. Freelance writers I work with on beauty stories write for Dr. Oz Magazine, Health, Allure, and Marie Claire, just to name a few!

If you can successfully present different angles to the writer for all of her relevant outlets, and one freelance writer can get your client in front of numerous magazines and websites.

Benefit #2 – Freelance Writers Are Based Everywhere

The majority of the editorial world is based in New York, which makes it difficult for PR agencies based in other places to meet up in person. Freelance writers are located around the country, so if you have a client opening a new clothing boutique in San Francisco or a hair salon in Miami, you’ll more likely than not be able to find local freelancers to connect with. While some local writers only cover stories for regional outlets, some are also stringers for national publications, making freelance outreach a great way to get your local brand in front of a bigger audience.

Benefit #3 – Freelancers are easier to find than ever before

It can be challenging to find freelance writers because they aren’t listed on a masthead and may not come up on a google search as being connected to a particular publication. However, by doing your due diligence beforehand (researching publications and paying attention to who is writing what), it’s easier than ever before to find ideal writers for your clients.

You can cross-check names against social media or search the hashtags #freelancelife” and “#fashionfreelancer” to discover new writers. On LinkedIn, do a broad search of keywords such “freelance beauty writer” – usually once one you find a contact, more will come up in the “related contacts” sidebar. You can then often find their website and contact info, as well as a portfolio of recent clips. Keep in mind – just because someone covered NYFW 5 years ago doesn’t mean they currently do…freelance writers sometimes switch markets so that fashion contact could now solely write about technology. Make sure to focus what they’ve written about recently.

Freelance writers can greatly help with giving you and your clients access to some top national outlets – make sure to nurture these relationships as you do with on-staff editors. Going freelance is becoming more and more common – make sure to keep these influential writers top of mind with story pitches, event invites, and product mailings to further boost your chances of press success!

Crisis Comm 101, Back to School Marketing Stats & How to Become an Influencer

FASHION PR FRIDAY FEATURE IMAGE 4

Fashion PR Fridays: Top Fashion, Public Relations, Marketing and Social Media News

…for the week of August 15, 2016

  • Having a crisis communications plan in place before something happens is key – 27 PR pros share top strategies to help get the ball rolling (via Media Minded)
  • Personal branding is one of the best building blocks for career growth in the age of social media (via T8N Magazine)
  • A new kind of brick and mortar store is setting up shop in SoHo; customers take away more than just purchases (via Fashion Times)
  • Do clothes make the man? PR Consulting continues to grow it’s Grindr game (via GQ)
  • Amp up your marketing campaigns for the back-to-school boom, it’s worth it, we promise (via The Shelf)
  • All the cool CEOs are doing it; the case for a work from home culture (via Hoo Jobs)
  • Your social media is the customer’s first impression of your company. If it isn’t spectacular, you may want to consider rebranding (via Marketing Land)
  • Ever think, “I should have been a fashion blogger?” It’s not too late to foster a following and become an influencer (via Mashable)

Fashion PR Intern

Position:  Fashion PR Intern
Company: BPCM
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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PR Industry News: Agency Updates from M&C Saatchi PR, The Eighth Floor & The Ross Group

Agency News August 18, 2016

M&C Saatchi PR just announced the promotion of Jen Dobrzelecki to the position of Executive Vice President and the appointment of Meredith Brengle as Director of the New York office. 

Strategic Communications Agency The Eighth Floor announces its representation of NYC-based fashion designer Paola HernándezPaola Hernández launched her label after studying philosophy in Mexico City, fashion at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design in London, and shoe design at ARS Sutoria in Milan.

Islamic Fashion & Design Council (IFDCannounces Leena Asad as the organization’s latest Brand Ambassador.

Luxury and Lifestyle PR agency The Ross Group has partnered with Fashion Mixtape for emerging fashion designer referrals.


Do you have agency news that you would like to share with us?
We would love to feature employee news, new client announcements, awards, partnerships and more!

Contact us with your news at hello@prcouture.com

PR Girls We Love: Sabrina Wottreng, Sabrina Wottreng PR

PR Girls We Love, Office, Sabrina Wottreng

Sabrina Wottreng Public Relations is a Chicago-based public relations agency, providing strategic communications consulting and PR training for small businesses and start-ups. Founder Sabrina Wottreng recognized that often, businesses most in need of public relations are unable to afford typical agency retainers, and yet she hated the thought of missing out on the opportunity to work with companies she admired due to budget limits. And so, she forged her company around the needs of startup companies.

Instead of simply offering PR services, Sabrina developed products that help small businesses and entrepreneurs learn how to be their own publicist including e-books, classes and one-on-one trainings. Her client process is as follows:  first, teaching clients how to do their own PR, then reviewing an audit of the client’s branding and then finally, meeting face-to-face to devise a PR plan that is then executed by the client. After that initial engagement, the client can choose to sign on for a retainer.

In her spare time, Sabrina dedicates her time to writing a novel, taking improv classes at the Second City, and riding around the city on her beloved Ducati.


Sabrina Wottreng, Freelance Publicist, HeadshotName: Sabrina Wottreng
Company: Sabrina Wottreng Public Relations
Title: 
Publicist, Owner
Education: 
Loyola University Chicago
Twitter: @SabrinaWottreng
Instagram: @SabrinaWottreng 

How did you get started in PR?

I went to college wanting to be a luxury consignment business owner, but then I learned what PR was, became obsessed and switched majors. My first PR internship was with Zapwater Communications in Chicago.

How did you get the job you have now?

What a long story! After hopping around a few different agencies and never fitting in or liking how they do business and having an in-house role, I realized I needed to create the PR firm I wish I would have worked for.

What are your primary responsibilities?

Winning new business, securing press, and teaching small companies how to do their own PR until they’re ready to hire a firm.

I have my go-to social media, web development, graphic design, copywriting and photography vendors. We maintain our autonomous freedom and create an A-Team for the client.

Tell us a bit about how different communication departments are structured at your company.

I am a one person show, but I have many preferred vendors that go in on projects with me. I have my go-to social media, web development, graphic design, copywriting and photography vendors. We maintain our autonomous freedom and create an A-Team for the client.

What is the mood like in the office?

My office is my laptop, and I’m working on building up my #diyPR seminars. I’m putting a large amount of effort towards efficiency and productivity. Instead of having five, one-hour prospective client meetings to explain what PR is and what PR I do, they can attend a seminar of mine. They will learn how I do PR and walk away with tips and industry knowledge. If they become my client, then I’ve saved time initially meeting them one-on-one.

PR Girls We Love, Freelance Publicist, Sabrina Wottreng, Office

Image Credit: Ashley Hutchinson

 

What is a recent success story that makes you especially proud?

I recently launched a tech startup in a very specific niche. We conducted interviews with all of the major outlets for the industry, and the client was overwhelmed with demand for their Beta Test!

What are you really good at?

I’m really good at networking. I probably have a contact in my CRM for any random ask. From calligraphy to custom dog bones to drone pilot, I have a guy!

If you see someone that you think is interesting or doing cool things, get coffee with them.

Most memorable and meaningful moments in your career thus far?

Memorable: I was billed into a project and did not have direct access to the client until they were with me at the TV station before a segment. Before the segment, I sent over talking points to memorize. However, the the rapper didn’t have the points memorized. I figured his team was going to yell at the marketing company that billed me in on the project because I had to be stern, and quickly media train him before he went live. Instead his team asked me to consult with them for a few months.

Meaningful: April 22, 2014 – I was interning at a top agency and doing PR for a few small, small companies on the side. In my daily monitoring of a side client, I saw that they had a featured article about their product line expansion on Esquire.com. I thought to myself – why am I getting paid $10 an hour, to be an intern, when I have a college degree? I can get an article in Esquire.com!

Most glamorous moment in your career thus far?

Glamour in PR is such a myth!!! However, there have been some great client gifts along the way. If you call telling celebrities the names of reporters walking up to them glamorous, there’s that.

My mind is swirling with flashbacks of the craziness that is high stakes events. There was the time I was running up stairs in heels carrying boxes full of client swag because the elevators went out. Every single event, you have people doing ANYTHING and EVERYTHING possible to get you to let them in when they are not on the guest list.

Least glamorous moment in your career thus far?

I would say the least glamorous moment in my PR career was dropping of product to an influencer that I’d been communicating with for a while and having them deny me access to their room. The doorman took the expensive product and I went on my way.

PR can be so many different things…

My mind is swirling with flashbacks of the craziness that is high stakes events. There was the time I was running up stairs in heels carrying boxes full of client swag because the elevators went out. Every single event, you have people doing ANYTHING and EVERYTHING possible to get you to let them in when they are not on the guest list.

What’s a big challenge facing communicators right now?

The biggest challenge is defining what PR is. Some agencies also do social media, some agencies just do traditional and don’t work with influencers, some agencies are all about events and less about placements and so on. PR can be so many different things that I’ve found it important to specifically spell out the PR that I do.For example, I don’t do events. If my client wants to do an event, I’ll refer them to great event planners.

PR can be stressful and full of rejection – how do you deal?

PR is sales, therefore it’s a numbers game. There will always be another client and another reporter. It’s hard when you’re really banking on something or someone, but it makes the wins even more exciting.

What are three must-have tools, apps, or products that are essential to your job?

Cision, HARO, and Coffee.

PR Girls We Love, Sabrina Wottreng Branding, Freelance Publicist

Image Credit: Ashley Hutchinson 

 

What do you wish more people understood about your job?

I wish people stopped thinking PR is just press releases and calling reporters. The industry has changed exponentially and antiquated ways are dead. My job is about connecting the dots.

PR trends are always changing – how do you keep up?

  • I’m an avid reader of the publications I frequently pitch along with business and tech-centric publications.
  • Networking! It’s common for me to attend 4-7 networking events per week.
  • I love to attend seminars and hear what others are saying about social media, marketing, and advertising.

What type of person thrives at your company?

Go-getters. My tribe of creative vendors are serious go-getters, and we all benefit from each other’s hustle.

What would you tell someone who wants to be you when they grow up?

Hustle, trust your gut, and practice giver’s gain!

Hustle – If you see someone that you think is interesting or doing cool things, get coffee with them. Knowing people has been essential to my success and ability to run my own company at 23.

Trust your gut – There have been times when I took on clients because I needed the money even though I was getting a bad vibe. Those clients were the ones that didn’t pay me, called me incessantly and caused me the most stress.

Giver’s gain – All of my business has come to me via referral. When I meet with people, I always ask who their best referral networks are and then I introduce them to people I know that fit their need. For example, social media specialists are a great referral source for me, so I always love getting connected with as many social media specialists as possible. When you introduce someone to a person that can make them more money, they will likely do the same.

 

Thanks, Sabrina!

 

Account Coordinator

Position: Account Coordinator
Company: Shamin Abas PR & Special Events
Location: New York City, NY
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6 Signs You’re A Freelancer at Heart

6 Signs You Are Freelance PR

I took PR internships and jobs anywhere that would take me. My resume holds accolades from big agencies, experimental agencies, boutique agencies, and social media agencies. At each position, I kept telling myself, the next agency will be different; smarter, more creative. I won’t cry at night. Alas, no agency has ever made me as happy as I am as a freelance publicist, out on my own.

Looking back, I can identify six big indicators that suggested a freelance, entrepreneurial professional career was a better for fit for me. Do any of these ring true for you?

You have Restless Desk Syndrome

You feel cooped up, restless and unable to foster your creative thoughts at a desk. Walking, sitting at a coffee shop, or working on a park bench brings inspiration and new ideas for clients.

Office hours feel like a grind

As a freelancer, there are days when I pull long hours, but there are also days I only plug-in for a bit. My work hours often mimic traditional office hours, but I can take the afternoon off, and start up again later into the evening, if that is when inspiration strikes. If the days when you work from home feel like a gift from above and you love the freedom and mobility of creating own schedule, not to mention your own systems, methods and workflows, freelance life may be calling your name.

Leadership comes naturally to you

No one, besides you, will go to bat for you and your work when you’re out on your own. If handling criticism, calls from demanding clients and self-assigned goals keep you thriving, freelance work will put you front and center of the good, and the bad. If you find yourself naturally taking on leadership positions within teams, problem-solving and taking the initiative to grow business, chances are you’ll do find as an independent agent.

You’re a Networking Queen

PR is all about who you know! Whether it’s the media or prospective clients, who do you know and do you find yourself naturally introducing people and being the creator of unique partnerships and collaborations?

I get coffee with about 10 new people a week. While meeting with them, I look for opportunities connect them with as many people as I can. I believe in “giver’s gain;” and can point to this approach as the number one reason all of my business comes from referrals.

Hustle Is Your Middle Name

You hustle! You not only work at your current job, but you take on small side clients, consultations, and volunteer when and where you can. From random event gigs on the weekends to managing the Instagram account of your favorite boutique, you strive to put as much into each day as possible. If you are capable of taking care of multiple client needs and “handling it;” in addition to your full-time job, this freelance stuff will be totally manageable. After all, client work is just one of the responsibilities of running your own business.

You’ve got #GirlBoss Aspirations 

You are simultaneously empowered and devastated when you read articles about the girl bosses making millions from pursuing their dreams. You know an agency career trajectory will never give you that life and aspire to run the show, not just be the VP.

Freelancing is not for the weak. If you’re determined to be as well-known as Kelly Cutrone or have the confidence of fictional Samantha Jones, the fastest way forward is by building up your own reputation and name, not that of an existing agency. Freelancing has perks, like having the option to work in sweatpants, being able to work from wherever there is an internet connection and having a glass of wine whenever you feel like it. The freedom I feel from building a life on my terms and my timeline is truly why you won’t find me at a desk.

Freelancing has perks, like having the option to work in sweatpants, being able to work from wherever there is an internet connection, not to mention and having a glass of wine whenever you feel like it. But for me, the freedom I feel from building a life on my terms and my timeline is truly why you won’t find me sitting at an agency desk anytime soon.

About Sabrina

Sabrina is a Chicago-based publicist. Whether her clients are looking to learn how to be their own publicist or are in need of a PR arm for their company, Sabrina Wottreng Public Relations has products and services for their needs. In her spare time, Sabrina takes classes at The Second City and can be found riding her Ducati Monster.

4 Things to Learn from Kate Spade and LOFT’s Branded Video Content

Kate Spade Miss Adventure Campaign

Anna Kendrick returns to her home after a long day of shopping only to realize she’s locked her keys in her apartment, and after an urgent call to her super, she plops down on her front stoop with her dog Milos and tries to entertain herself.

 

 

Elsewhere, Busy Phillips is thrilled for the start of spring and can’t wait to celebrate her favorite spring activities, even if that means artificially manufacturing them herself. She then taps into her inner minimalist and begins practicing Marie Kondo’s principles of decluttering, leaving her very zen and her husband very confused.

 

 

While these scenarios sound like episodes from an upcoming sitcom, they’re actually video advertisements developed by Kate Spade and LOFT. Gone are the days are where fashion brands are relying on highly airbrushed print ads. Instead, they’re being replaced with fun, quirky video series that exhibit another side of the brand’s personality.

What makes these videos successful? They’re a unique blend of aspirational content with a dash of approachability. As you delve into branded content, consider these four key components to sucess:

1. Serialize Brand Content

These brand videos aren’t a one-off creations; instead, they’ve created a mini-series where we get to see our beloved characters in different situations. Kate Spade’s #MissAdventure series has gotten its fair share of buzz because the audience is keen on seeing what #MissAdventure will get into next.

2. Work with up and coming celebrities

While Anna Kendrick is pretty famous, both companies chose not to work with A-List. Instead, they’re choosing actresses who have earned a level of stardom to have a substantial following, but at the same time, retain a relatability that keeps them accessible to viewers.

In the latest installments of #MissAdventure, Anna Kendrick passed the torch to Zosia Mamet of Girls fame. With the start of season 2, Zosia has taken the reins and stars alongside Marissa Tomei, Kat Dennings, and Lola Kirke in a new adventure that that ends with a princess bouncy castle. The new actresses also have that “on the cusp of mass fame” indie quality that is a brand fit and also allows for a deeper connection and approachability among target customers.

3. Go for humor and pure entertainment

Both brands focus use humor and ridiculous situations to entertain viewers.  While it’s unlikely that we’d be mistaken for Lily Tomlin’s meditation coach like Anna Kendrick was have our husbands use the hose to create a fake rain shower to celebrate spring like Busy Phillips, laugh-out-loud situational comedy creates an immediate connection between the brand and it’s audience. Setting up outlandish situations demonstrates that both brands have a fun, playful side and don’t take themselves too seriously.

4. Include interactive content

Kate Spade took their video content to a whole new level by adding an interactive, touchable function to their videos via vendor Cinematique. Anett Farkas, the marketing manager at Cinematique, has worked extensively on cultivating branded video content and explains that “In the instance with Kate Spade, they did a great job filling their touchable video with interesting tidbits that users could discover by interacting with the video. For example, you get “A Lady’s Guide to Lock Picking” when viewers touch Anna Kendrick’s hair pins in the video. This additional story element brings viewers much deeper into the world of Kate Spade.” These elements enable brands to further immerse themselves into the worlds created for these series’ and encourage viewers to spend more time with the video beyond the initial viewing.

Fashion brands and marketing professionals can adopt a similar lens to branded content and video marketing as a means to entertain and cultivate brand excitement and loyalty.By including these 4 key characteristics, brands can increase engagement through entertainment and help cultivate their brand identity.

By including these 4 key characteristics, brands can increase engagement through entertainment and help cultivate their brand identity.

 

About Sarah Walsh

Sarah Walsh is an Online PR Specialist at Web Talent Marketing, a full-service digital marketing agency based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania that delivers exceptional results to clients. Sarah holds a B.A. from York College of Pennsylvania where she earned a degree in Professional Writing. She’s passionate about creating impactful content and using social media authentically. In her free time, she likes reading, writing for her personal blog, and spending time with her two furbabies.

PR INTERN

Position: PR Intern
Company: Style House PR
Location: New York City, NY
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Teen Vogue’s New Focus, Burberry Partners with Pinterest & How to Make a Decision

FASHION PR FRIDAY FEATURE IMAGE 4

Fashion PR Fridays: Top Fashion, Public Relations, Marketing and Social Media News

…for the week of August 8, 2016

  • Feeling like you’re getting amazing influencer coverage and not seeing the return? Let’s take a closer look (via The Gem)
  • PR maven Dria Murphy shares how finding herself without a job sparked a foray into consulting and entrepreneurship, touching on some of the swoon-worthy career experiences she’s had along the way (via The Coveteur)
  • Snapchat stories vs. Instagram stories and who should use which one – the looming question haunting all influencers and brands right now (via LinkedIn)
  • The new print and digital strategies at Teen Vogue are one for the books, literally (via Business of Fashion)
  • If you’ve ever had trouble making a decision, this one’s for you (via The Next Web)
  • Corporate office dress codes are stuffy & we hate them. Options, please! (via The Daily Beast)
  • In case you need help convincing a client; bloggers share the same level of influence as editors and that influence is steadily increasing (via LA Times)
  • If you’ve ever had to write brand copy for an “affordable luxury collection,” you’ll appreciate this call to ban certain fashion phrases (via Fashionista)
  • Learning is more fun with friends! Grab your PR bestie and save 15% when you both register for Fashion PR Confidential in Los Angeles October 1-2. Email info@fashionprconfidential.com with your fellow PR Girl on cc to get the code! (via Fashion PR Con)

 

Fashion PR Intern

Position: Fashion PR Intern
Company: Blanc Communications
Location: Sausalito, CA
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5 Signs a Fashion Show is Right for Your Brand

Runway Ready, MBFW, Fashion Show

Many designers dream of having their own fashion shows. And why wouldn’t they? The lights, the glamour, the models, the excitement, all revolving around their creations – who wouldn’t want that?! Fashion shows are great at garnering attention and creating buzz. But they’re usually not the best way to stimulate sales for startup brands or emerging designers. 

Why? Fashion shows costs a lot of money. Typically, newer designers lack the capital of a larger brand likeAlexander Wang, Zac Posen, or Tory Burch. Without a significant budget, the show itself is likely to suffer. Think about it – what makes a successful fashion show? It’s the right venue, experienced models, great publicists, smart and creative producers, talented hair and make-up artists, dressers and backstage assistants, and extra promotional dollars to pay celebrities to attend and drum up further media coverage.

Did you know that Chanel pays Rihanna about $80k, just to sit front row at their shows? If you want a fashion show attended by top-tier, notable press outlets, influencers, buyers and target customers, the show itself needs to be top-notch; which often requires a sizable budget. Many shows from new and small designers end up looking lackluster and simply aren’t much to write about. You don’t want to go cheap on a fashion show. 

If you want a fashion show that notable press will write about and will attract recognizable people to attend, then a sizable budget is necessary.

In addition to a tiny budget, another mistake I see time and again from independent designers is making the fashion show the only marketing activity to promote a collection, with no further outreach planned or budget earmarked for additional strategies. This is risky because if the fashion show doesn’t meet expectations, there is no additional budget to invest in other tactics, and sometimes, that extends to dollars to actually produce inventory to sell. 

So when is the right time to have a fashion show? It’s when you have the following 5 factors present in your fashion business: 

1.  There’s an existing demand for your line

Fashion shows are too pricey to be pure experimentation or a way of getting feedback on a collection. It only makes sense to invest in one if you have already garnered a strong demand for your brand. This means, at minimum, a loyal customer base, a certain amount of editor interest, and a business strategy that is bringing in consistent sales. Without setting the foundation, you’re making it harder on yourself when it comes to convincing press, buyers, and influencers to attend.

2. The cost to produce the fashion show won’t affect your ability to run your business

This is important because fashion shows don’t necessarily give you a return on your investment right away. That means, it could take days, weeks, and even months before you start seeing money come back. So, make sure you’ve got enough capital to continue business operations.

3. Production is already in place (and working)

Do not have a fashion show if you don’t have the capability to produce inventory. What’s the point of marketing your collection if you have no stock to sell?

4. You’re willing to invest to create a memorable, press-worthy experience

In the same way that you won’t compromise on fabric, don’t settle for a mediocre fashion week or runway show opportunity, just so that you can say you had a show. Fashion shows are not a small investment, nor are they mandatory. Wait until you have the proper funds to do it justice. After all, you and your customers deserve the best.

5. You have a PR, marketing and sales strategy in place

A fashion show shouldn’t be the only thing you’re doing to promote your brand. Make sure you have a robust communication plan that includes social media, email marketing, content marketing and more to keep expanding your brand recognition, reach, and sales.

Overall, fashion shows are a great way to stimulate buzz, which can contribute to heightened sales. But it’s definitely a strategy more suitable for established brands that possess a higher degree of capital and infrastructure.

If you’re now wondering, well what should I be doing? Learn the best marketing tactics for new and emerging brands by signing up for our upcoming course, How To Start + Grow A Fashion Brand That Sells, happening online August 27 Register here and save 10% with code PRCOUTURE.

About Mary

Mary Vallarta is the founder & CEO of both the FAB Counsel and the Digital Influencer Lab. Prior to launching these ventures, Mary worked as a Fashion Buyer for retailers such as Macy’s, BCBG, Metropark, and Bebe. She currently teaches Fashion Marketing and Entrepreneurship at the Los Angeles Technical College. Mary’s professional objectives are driven by a creative desire and the satisfaction of helping others succeed.

PR Girls We Love: Amanda Haines, Principal & Head of Creative, Reformation

PR Girls  We Love, Amanda Haines  - Reformation Sofa Meeting

An empathetic force of nature, Amanda Haines is the creative heart of Reformation. The product of artistic vision-meets-pragmatism, she’s a charismatic chameleon with a warm smile and an infectious laugh that she’s always ready to share. With her lion-heart, “let’s-do-this” attitude, and intuition in spades, Amanda has dedicated herself to crafting brand stories for more than a decade, working with brands from Gap Inc. and Michael Kors, to Earls Kitchen + Bar, to PAPYRUS and Hudson’s Bay Company, to name a few.

That dedication has taken Amanda to blend her passion for public relations with higher education, where she currently serves as an instructor and advisory board member for the Public Relations Certificate Program at Simon Fraser University. She has also taught seminars and courses at Langara College and John Casablancas Institute, respectively, and revels in coaching, cheerleading and driving her team to personal and professional success.


Amanda Haines, Principal, Reformation
Name: Amanda Haines
Company: Reformation
Title: Principal + Head of Creative
Education: BA – University of British Columbia; Certificate – PR & Communications, Langara College; Certificate – Hospitality Marketing, Cornell University
Twitter: @amandahaines //@wereformation
Instagram: @amandahaines // @wereformation

How did you get started in PR?

Honestly, it was on a hope and a prayer! I had graduated with my Bachelor of Arts in May, and I had been accepted into Bachelor of Education program starting in September. The goal was to become an elementary school teacher. About two weeks before the program started, I got cold feet and realized it really wasn’t the right fit for me. I knew I needed a career that would be creative, versatile, and keep me on my toes. Writing was always a strength of mine, so I considered journalism – but it didn’t feel quite right. I eventually stumbled across a public relations program at a reputable local college. I didn’t even really know what PR was at the time, but I knew it sounded like it was right up my alley. I aced the interview process and began the program in January – two months later, I was interning for a local (now-defunct) agency specializing in lifestyle PR, primarily fashion, beauty, and hospitality. My practicum led to a contract role, and then a full-time job, where I worked alongside the agency principal and got a major crash course in running a public relations firm.

How did you get the job you have now?

I created it myself! After my first agency job, I decided I wanted some in-house experience, so I took a marketing manager position working at the head office of a large casual fine dining restaurant chain. I was there for nearly four years, and in my last year, I started to crave a return to agency life – there’s something about the versatility of the agency experience that’s highly addictive! You never know what each day will bring, and the opportunity to work with so many different brands and people is incredible. I began researching agencies in Vancouver, and there just didn’t seem to be one that was ‘me.’ I knew I wanted to work with great brands, ones I believed in and could represent authentically. Around this time, I started getting a few consulting offers, and I took it as a sign that it was go time. I left my comfortable corporate job in December, and by January, my agency – soon to be named Reformation – launched.

What are your primary responsibilities?

Primarily, I am the Head of Creative. I’m responsible for developing and directing strategy for all of our clients, which is a fancy way of saying that I get paid for my ideas (I know, I’m hugely lucky). A huge chunk of my job is comprised of thinking outside the box and dreaming up new and (sometimes) crazy ways to tell our clients’ brand stories. Outside of that, I lead our business development, run the day-to-day operations of the business including human resources, finance, and the like, and I serve as a cheerleader and coach to our team of amazing creatives.

There’s something about the versatility of the agency experience that’s highly addictive! You never know what each day will bring, and the opportunity to work with so many different brands and people is incredible.

Tell us a bit about how different communication departments are structured at your company.

We’re not a typical public relations agency. Part of our mission is to set a higher standard for the agency experience, and my personal belief is that the standard corporate model is totally outdated. It’s time to cut the red tape and bureaucracy that so many agencies are built on. Our industry is changing so much, every day, and I think the most important part of staying relevant amidst this change is a willingness to evolve while offering premium service to our clients. We don’t have departments, or a limiting structure in our business. We call ourselves a modern public relations collective, not a PR agency. Our business is a sum of its parts. We believe in collaboration, and a strong team atmosphere where everyone – from intern to principal – is expected to contribute creatively. Our team is multi-faceted, well-rounded, and dynamic, and everyone plays an equal role in our integrated approach to PR. In any given day, they are pitching media, creating engaging social content, planning impactful brand amplifications, facilitating influencer partnerships, and most importantly, building relationships with each other, our clients, and our network of contacts.

What is the mood like in the office?

Nose to the grindstone, happy, and excited. 

What are you currently working on?

We’ve just started working with a new client, Unreserved, which is an amazing blended wine available in Smooth White and Smooth Red. We’re also gearing up for the upcoming Vancouver & Calgary Home + Design Shows this fall, preparing for the launch of Smash+Tess’s second ‘dreamwear’ collection, and planning for the opening of three new Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria locations this winter.

We believe in collaboration, and a strong team atmosphere where everyone – from intern to principal – is expected to contribute creatively.

What are you really good at?

I really love investing my time in people. Business development is my jam – there are few feelings as good as hitting it off with a new potential client and knocking a proposal out of the park. I also love coaching our team members, teaching them new things, and serving as a support and confidant to each of them. I find it incredibly rewarding. It’s funny how life has come full circle that way – while I may have changed my mind about becoming a full-time teacher, today I am actually a part-time teacher at a Simon Fraser University. I teach a few courses in their public relations certificate program, and I really relish the opportunity to share everything I’ve learned over the past 10 years.

What is a recent success story that makes you especially proud?

We launched our new brand this past May. It was such a big project, literally 15 months in the making. Seeing my vision for Reformation come to life was absolutely amazing. It took a village to get us where we are today, and I couldn’t be grateful to everyone who supported us along the way, or more thrilled with the end result. You can read more about our new look here

Most memorable and meaningful moments in your career thus far?

I’m not sure I can pinpoint a specific moment, but looking around our office and seeing our amazing team working so hard for our clients is incredibly gratifying. I am so lucky to be surrounded by four other strong, smart, beautiful women. They teach me new things every day, and I wouldn’t be here without them.

Reformation Team, PR Girls We Love, Amanda Haines

The Reformation Team. Left to right: Mallory Oudendag; Amanda Haines; Pam McMeekin; and Krystal Wiggins. Image credit: Whitney Krutzfeldt.

Most glamorous moment in your career thus far?

To be honest, there haven’t been many! I don’t mean that in a bad way, but there’s definitely a misconception out there that PR is this glamour-filled field. That’s false. We all have our moments, but the majority of our work is behind-the-scenes, in the trenches, grinding it out to get the best possible results for our clients. One of the coolest things I’ve gotten to do – and hopefully this qualifies as glam! – is meet and work alongside quite a few well-known television personalities. I’ve had the pleasure of spending a day with fashion stylist Brad Goreski, accompanying Drew & Jonathan Scott, Bryan Baeumler, and Colin & Justin to media appearances, and working alongside Jillian Harris as her publicist. I’m a very lucky girl, and the best part is, all of them are the nicest people in the world.

Least glamorous moment in your career thus far?

Literally every day there is a least glamorous moment. I do my fair share of dirty work alongside my team – I think it’s important. From stuffing envelopes to 4AM wake-up calls to running wild and crazy autograph signings with celebrities, I’ve done – and seen – it all.

What’s a big challenge facing communicators right now?

Staying relevant and on top of today’s communication tools. The PR landscape is changing every single day – newsrooms are shrinking, print opportunities are decreasing, broadcast opportunities are becoming increasingly affiliated with ad buys, social media is becoming more and more dynamic, and influencers have become a very real and very valuable new source for exposure. We approached this challenge head-on at Reformation, first and foremost, by changing our name. Our business started as Reformation PR, and while our manifesto has always been the same (we believe there is power in change — in challenging the status quo, and setting a higher standard for the agency experience), the industry continues to evolve. It’s gotten to a point where I believe modern public relations goes way beyond media exposure – it involves social media, influencers, brand amplifications, and content – and a lot of people don’t understand that. By dropping the PR from our name, and offering an integrated, full service offering, we’re able to maintain control of what we do, and how we do it – sort of define what modern public relations is for ourselves, without worrying about preconceived notions of what it is.

It’s so important to remember that as long as you do your best work possible, the results will follow.

PR can be stressful and full of rejection – how do you deal?

One of the most important things about a career in PR is relinquishing control. We don’t work in an industry where results are guaranteed. It’s so important to remember that as long as you do your best work possible, the results will follow. Maybe not all the time, and maybe not always the way you want them to, but if you do excellent work, you have every reason to be proud.

What are three must-have tools, apps, or products that are essential to your job?

  • We’ve totally revolutionized our inter-office communication with an app called Slack, which you can download to your computer or from the App Store. We use it in place of internal email, and it has been a total game-changer. It allows you to stay in the loop on everything, categorize your conversations, and most importantly, reduce your inbox clutter.
  • I honestly couldn’t live without Pinterest. It’s such a great resource for ideas and visual inspiration. I use it all the time for work and pleasure – brainstorming new ideas, styling photo shoots and content, and uncovering trends. It’s a bottomless source of creativity.
  • This is a bit old-school, but I have this notepad from Indigo that really helps me get through my days, especially those days that are really stressful. It’s got big sheets and at the top it says, “Fresh day, fresh start.” It always gives me a good jolt of optimism in the morning, and I use it to do my ‘brain dump’ as soon as I get into the office. I always have a lot on the go, and tons of things in my head – ideas, to-dos, deadlines, etc. – I find it really cleansing to write everything down as soon as I get in and rid myself of the stress that comes with a busy mind.
Breez App Launch, PR Girls We Love, Amanda Haines

Client event – Breez App Launch. Image credit: Britney Gill.

What do you wish more people understood about your job?

I wish more people understood what PR is. There’s a real misconception that PR equals parties and glamour, which is not at all the case. It’s all about hard work, determination, and creativity.

PR trends are always changing – how do you keep up?

Personally, I’m constantly learning. I read blogs (PR Couture being one of them!), business publications, articles, listen to podcasts, watch TED talks. I keep a close eye on what other brands are doing, and I’m always looking to get ahead of trends and blaze a path for our clients.

What type of person thrives at your company?

Someone who is creative, driven, hard-working, detail-oriented, and loyal. If you want to contribute, be part of something bigger than yourself, and be part of the modern public relations movement, we want to hear from you.

What would you tell someone who wants to be you when they grow up?

To roll up their sleeves, dig their heels in, and work their ass off. Treat everyone with kindness and respect, take chances, and make connections – you never know who you’re going to meet that might change your life. The PR industry is a tough one, but it’s also one that rewards hard work. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, it will most certainly pay off, as long as you persevere.

 

Thanks, Amanda!

PR Toolkit: BLNDS Have More Fun with Trello

PR Agency, Trello, Project Management, PR Toolkit

It’s easy to get lost in the endless amount of work that is constantly circulating on our desk and through our emails. The only way to truly streamline any process is to have an all-encompassing program that allows everyone to work collaboratively, discuss tasks freely within project boards, stay on task with tools and checklists. And like any pro-organizer knows…with color coding, comes great responsibility.

There are plenty of programs like WunderList, Slack, Asana — but nothing compares to the ease and tools Trello provides to help out PR agency stay on track. Trello allows our entire team to finally check things off that never-ending to-do list and work in unison to successfully complete every goal. Each task we can complete efficiently as individuals, and together as a team, will only further realize our client’s goals into successful campaigns.

Here are a few ways that our office uses Trello as our go-to management tool:

1. We use Trello to streamline the pitch process

With a hearty roster of clients and multiple pitches being drafted, pitched and followed up on constantly, Trello has become our way to easily plan and track our pitches for every client. One tool we love? Labels! Trello has labels that can be used to color code each card. This is a visual and easy way for us to see what stage a pitch is in. Green means it’s approved by the team to be pitched, while red indicates that a pitch still needs more edits before being sent. We can also add deadlines to each pitch to ensure they are distributed on time.

2. We use Trello to organize content calendars

Creating valuable content is at the core of creating loyal and consistent viewership, and we work hard to ensure our PR agency blog is something we are excited about. Transferring our content calendar to Trello has allowed us to plan and easily move blog content from list to list as it progresses through the editorial process. As the team lead, I am able to easily track each topic from the early stages of research to writing and editing, and lastly publishing and promotion. Everyone on our team can see a visual overview of our content timeline, which leads to an effective publishing process. 

3. We use Trello for social media planning

While apps such as Mosaico and Planoly are becoming more and more prevalent, we utilize Trello as our go-to tool for planning client Instagram accounts. Why? Trello allows for multiple collaborators to be working on a single board, enabling the entire social media team to have eyes on everything from the caption to the overall cohesion of the feed. We organize our boards by week; if there is a post that we don’t think fits where it is now, Trello allows us to easily move it to another day or week.

For any business to succeed, communication is key! Especially during times of growth, it’s important for everyone on the team to be on the same page, organized, and updated on what is happening for each client. For BLND PR, Trello is that tool.

Now over to you: What’s your favorite feature of the project management tool you use? Share with us @BLNDPR and @prcouture.