Skirt PR is a Chicago-based, full-service PR firm that excels in strategic media relations, brand marketing, event planning/execution and social media for clients in a variety of industries, such as beauty, fashion, and lifestyle. Skirt PR President Lauren Berg Donovan was on her way toward becoming a lawyer when a fashion PR internship with Skirt changed everything.
How did you get started in PR?
I stumbled into PR and was in fact on track to go to law school after college. Thankfully, I interned at a law firm my junior year of college and discovered it just wasn’t for me. I wanted to do something with more creative freedom, where I dealt with people, not paper, all day. This led to some soul searching. I focused on what it was that interested me in my personal life. I’ve always loved media and subscribe to (and devour) countless magazines a month. Some friends in the journalism school at Northwestern suggested I might enjoy being their counterpoint in the industry – a publicist. I did some research, fell in love with a local PR agency called Skirt PR and was politely persistent until I landed an internship there. The internship turned into a full-time position after three months and the rest is history! I’ve now been at Skirt for seven years and am the president of the agency.
What is the mood like in the office? What are you working on right now?
We work out of a loft office in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago and the open, airy space lends itself to a creative and inspiring environment. The mood is collaborative and fun, but at the same time, the team is a determined and productive group so there’s lots of fingers pounding on keyboards for much of the day! Right now, we’re working on some exciting updates to the Skirt PR website, as well as some innovative campaigns for brands like Rent the Runway, Fromm and Hush Puppies. As I write this, I’m gearing up to work with a photographer at a society gala at Lincoln Park Zoo this evening, Zoo Ball. There’s certainly never a dull moment!
The @SkirtPR Instagram is one of our favorites
What are three must-haves that are essential to your job?
1. An organized Outlook calendar. I honestly couldn’t live without my calendar – if it isn’t on the agenda, it pretty much isn’t happening. With most days filled to the brim with back-to-back meetings, a useful trick I’ve learned is to schedule time at my desk in advance and block it off, just like I would a meeting.
2. The Skimm. I adore this daily newsletter that provides me with the headlines and major news stories of the day. It keeps me informed and does so in a tone and manner that I find enjoyable and relatable. It’s important in our industry to be constantly informed – you never know where inspiration for a pitch will come from!
3. Starbucks Venti Blonde Soy Misto. I can’t effectively start my busy days without a jolt of Starbucks caffeine.
What makes an ideal client for your agency?
At Skirt, we are lucky enough to be selective when it comes to the clients we work with. An ideal client is one that we feel personally passionate about and easily integrate into our lives. Nothing fuels a PR campaign like genuine interest and belief in a brand and we’re lucky to say that we feel that way about all of the clients on our roster. It inspires us to work with fellow women-owned businesses, as well as young startups. Nothing feels better than being part of a brand’s success story and knowing that we played a role in helping them achieve their dreams!
Nothing feels better than being part of a brand’s success story and knowing that we played a role in helping them achieve their dreams!
What is a recent success story you’re proud of?
We recently worked with Rent the Runway to open their brick-and-mortar store in Chicago. This is a brand that I’ve been personally following (and using) since it launched several years ago, so the opportunity to help them make a splash in our hometown of Chicago was a dream come true. Due to the amazing efforts of my team, I’m proud to say that the opening was a smashing success. We secured just short of one million media impressions; introduced the brand to nine incredible entrepreneurial women that serve as ongoing brand ambassadors; and produced a launch event that was attended by more than 175 of Chicago’s finest tastemakers and generated 164 Instagram posts in just two hours! The client was thrilled and has continued to expand upon our partnership, which is the ultimate sign of success in my eyes.
Rent the Runway's first brick-and-mortar store in Chicago.
How do you get the word out about your agency?
We are very fortunate in that 85% of our business stems directly from referrals. We prefer to fly a bit more under the radar when it comes to self-promotion – we leave that side of our brains to client-facing business. Our social media presence has been the primary vehicle (and an effective one, at that) for establishing a brand personality and giving prospective clients a sneak peek into who we are.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned since you started working in PR?
Be politely persistent until you turn that no into a yes. But also accept the fact that rejection is part of the job and don’t let it get you down. In fact, let it serve as motivation and determination to get a yes next time.
Skirt's 10 Year Anniversary Party
What excites you about PR these days?
What excites me about PR is what has always drawn me to the industry – its ever-evolving nature. Just as no day is the same for me or my team, there’s no blueprint for PR and where the industry will be in one, three or five years. I love that regular people who are doing cool things (we like to call them tastemakers) have emerged as key components to successful campaigns for the brands we work with. It brings a new, more organic feel to what we do. That being said, I will always love a good, glossy magazine and feel confident that print publications will continue to stand the test of time.