Getting IN is our interview series with entry-level PR professionals and interns. In this interview with PR Coordinator Lauren Long (who also happens to be a recent PRISM course grad), you’ll learn how she managed to float after being thrown into the deep end in her first PR position and why she believes college is just the beginning of one’s education.
Tell us a bit about your background
I grew up wanting to be a fashion designer. I went on to study fashion merchandising and marketing at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I promised myself that I would make it to New York post graduation, which is exactly what I did! I graduated from college a semester ahead (I was determined to get started on my career so I took summer and winter classes in between semesters to finish early) Just one month after graduating I moved to NYC.
Did you have a job when you moved to NYC?
I didn’t have an internship or job waiting for me. I started searching for jobs and internships online and searched for weeks, applying to any and everything I could find. Finally I secured an internship with Melissa Odabash; a luxury swimwear and beachwear designer based out of London. Honestly, I was so nervous! I knew very little about PR when I landed the internship, but my plan was to act as a sponge and learn as much as I could.
I graduated from college a semester ahead (I was determined to get started on my career so I took summer and winter classes in between semesters to finish early) Just one month after graduating I moved to NYC.
6 weeks after starting, my manager was let go and I took the the lead in US office. My new boss was Head of Sales and PR in the US, but I didn’t work with her directly. She was only an email away, but I was in a showroom by myself for majority of the time. Being put in that situation motivated me to take the initiative to teach myself the ropes. This is was my make or break moment. Long story short, three months later I was promoted to PR and E-commerce Assistant Manager. At that point, I knew that PR was right for me!
How did you land your current position?
Getting hired at Swimwear Anywhere could not have come at a better time. I was in between jobs and doubting myself (I am my toughest critic). I found the open position on Indeed, applied and receive an invitation to interview. I believe it was my experience in swimwear that helped me the most. The interview process was pretty extensive compared to my previous positions; I had the initial interview, a follow up interview, and then a reference check. I was nervous throughout the entire process because I really wanted the job, but the best I could do was to be confident and be myself. The overall process took about three months. There was even a point in time where I didn’t think I landed the position, but by the grace of God, two days before my 24th birthday I got the offer. Happy Birthday to me!
Tell us a bit about your role
At Swimwear Anywhere, we design, manufacture, and market our in-house brands as well as manufacture and market multiple licensed brands. Our in-house brands include CoCo Reef, CoCo Rave, Beach House, Beach house Sport, Roxanne, and Gabar. Our licensed brand portfolio includes Proenza Schouler, Kate Spade, Micheal Kors, Micheal by Micheal Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, DKNY, Carmen Marc Valvo, and Vince Camuto. As the PR Coordinator, I work with top fashion publications, bloggers, stylists and directly with our licensed brands. I secure and track press coverage, manage sample inventory, pull samples for editorial requests, obtain and update press contacts, organize press events and perform market research. I also work with our marketing department to create campaigns as well as social media and blog content.
What’s a recent success story you’ve been a part of?
My first day on the job I was introduced to my first task; organize a press day in 3 days! A few hours into my first day, my boss came to me and said, “We have a press day on Thursday. I need you to follow up and secure media attendance.” Challenge accepted!
She forwarded me a contact list but it was out of date. I immediately started researching contacts, checking LinkedIn profiles to confirm position updates, googling mastheads to verify current positions, and incorporating my personal media contact list. Cross referencing, double and triple checking, and even guessing emails in order to find my way to the correct person took the remainder of the day and half of the next day. With the updated list in hand, I now had only a day and a half to get the invitations into the right inboxes. Thankfully, I pulled through and had 15 confirmed publications attend our press day. I hope I made a good first impression!
What advice do you have for other aspiring PR Girls and guys?
Never lose sight of your goals. As out of reach as they may seem, they are not. Work hard and dedicate yourself to yourself. We are in an era where everything is at our fingertips, literally! Whatever we need to learn for our jobs can almost always be found online. I knew very little about PR post graduation and when the women got let go at my first internship I felt as if I was walking into a room blindfolded. I was in the dark about PR and even though I was learning through the internship, it wasn’t enough. So I did extensive research, bought books and anything I could to learn more about the job I needed to complete. That is when I discovered PR Couture!
A few hours into my first day, my boss came to me and said, “We have a press day on Thursday. I need you to follow up and secure media attendance.” Challenge accepted!
I cannot express enough how PR Couture helped me through this time in my life. All of the articles, interviews, testimonies, and reading materials helped me tremendously and I cannot thank Crosby enough! I strongly recommend PR Couture to anyone who is interested in pursuing and learning more about the industry.
What’s your dream fashion job?
I always dreamed of working for Vogue; being the Senior Fashion Editor and eventually the Fashion Director. However, this dream has slowly started to fade. I have found that there is nothing like working for yourself; making your own schedule, calling the shots, and watching your business grow. Eventually I want to work for myself. I aspire to inspire and I want to show that nothing is beyond your reach if you believe in yourself, have faith, and work hard.
Lauren is also a Prismadonna (a graduate of our signature PRISM Course), so I had a few bonus questions to ask her about her experience:
What made PRISM a fit for you?
I turned to PR Couture to learn more about the industry when I was just starting out and am a frequent site visitor. I found out about PRISM while I was applying to jobs and looking for ways to educate myself about PR so that I could land a great position. I was still a bit foggy about in-depth details about PR. I knew the basics and learned a lot from my time with Melissa Odabash, but I felt as though there was more to learn. PRISM was the perfect opportunity to do just that.
What is life like after PRISM?
After PRISM, I felt a lot more confident on my job search. My resume was stellar, my cover letter was polished, and my overall outlook was infallible. The course made a difference not only in my approach to seeking a job but also how I handled myself once I landed my new position.
I definitely see a difference in the way I perform on a day to day basis and interact with my network. My outreach, pitches, and press releases have all benefited as a result of taking PRISM. I also was able to strengthen my personal brand. I built a website and started branding myself – PRISM helped me tremendously with fine tuning my message and overall purpose.
Why is professional development important to you?
Knowledge is infinite. One can always benefit from learning; that’s what life is about. College is not the end but simply the beginning. Once you receive your degree and take on life in the “real world,” you embark on a new educational journey. It never hurts to brush up on your skills and continue to educate yourself beyond the classroom.
Who would you recommend sign up for PRISM?
If someone is eager to learn and seeking deeper knowledge about a PR career (even if they aren’t quite sure what they want to do exactly), I would absolutely recommend PRISM. Not only does it give you insight on a career in PR, it helps you to execute a great cover letter and resume and promote yourself as an industry professional. In PR, your are not only marketing your brand but you are also marketing yourself as an extension of your brand. PRISM helps narrow in on what you wish to accomplish personally and professional and essentially helps to clarify what makes you, you!