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.

PR CEO Shares Top Tips to Turn a Client Relationship Around

Client PR Tips

It’s inevitable. No matter how long you have been in the industry, how great your track record is in scoring amazing placements, there will always be clients who get cold feet and begin to question whether they have made the right choice in having you represent them. Client hesitation can present some major hurdles, so we’ve rounded up 5 things you can do to cope with clients who are on the fence about continuing the relationship.

1. Reset Expectations

Our agency has a strong policy of being completely honest with clients about what PR is and what we can do for them. Part of our elevator speech when onboarding clients includes letting them know that there are no guarantees of placement in PR and that it will take time for us to get results. so there is a certain level of trust they must have in us, particularly in the beginning that we are working diligently toward obtaining results. By managing expectations before the client engages our agency, we are able to remind them of this disclaimer when they start to get cold feet and then demonstrate the pro-active steps taken toward getting them results. We also work to establish trust in other ways, particularly, through consistent communication and tracking to demonstrate that we are working diligently toward obtaining results. By managing expectations before the client engages our agency, we are able to remind them of this disclaimer when they start to get cold feet and then demonstrate the pro-active steps taken toward getting them results.

It’s worth having this conversation more than once, however. A client who is waffling about moving forward needs to be reminded about how PR works, and there may need to be some renegotiation on process and expectations.

2. Secure a Quick Media Hit

When you think your client is starting to get nervous, turn to the outlets that you’ve come to rely on for quick placements. Even a small media hit can give boost morale and keep your client satisfied while you continue to work on the bigger stories.

3. Lay it all on the line

You’ve been hired for your communication skills and knowledge of how the media industry works. If you are struggling to secure results because of poor photography, an out-of-season or off-trend product or simply operating in a highly-saturated market, it’s time to make sure that your concerns and limitations are documented and well-known by your client. If you haven’t secured a placement but have received feedback from an editor, make sure to share those insights with your client.

Perhaps it’s time to work on some new messaging or branding, or to “create news” by doing something newsworthy. Remember that you’re the expert and ultimately your client needs your perspective and tough love in order to make both of your lives easier and business boom.

4. Re-establish the Relationship 

While digital and mobile communication is easy, clients who step away often feel neglected or simply not a top priority. When you sense or learn that a client is questioning if your the best fit it’s time to put in some serious face time. Set up a lunch to have a transparent conversation around their concerns. Discuss the current strategy and be willing to make tweaks – sometimes priorities change or your client is feeling pressure from her higher-ups that is adding to the stress. Emotion and empathy are not always conveyed well via email. by allowing the client to hear your voice and see how invested you are in their success, you can assuage many fears and even strengthen the relationship.

5. Demonstrate Progress You’ve Made

Clients can have a very short memory when it comes to press placements. They forget about the national print placement you secured a month ago or the morning show segment that featured a 30-second plug for their brand.  It can be helpful to remind them of the recent progress made and reiterate what is currently in the pipeline. For some clients, putting press coverage alongside concrete ad equivalency numbers can help clarify the value and affordability of public relations.

When clients get cold feet, it is important to put yourself in their shoes and take proactive steps to warm them up again. Most of the time, the fear stems from a concern that their limited marketing dollars are not reaping rewards and it is your job to show them the value for dollars spent. These 5 tips can help you talk them off the proverbial ledge and get the relationship back on track.

John Frieda’s Content Shift, Instagram Stories, & How to Selfie 101

FASHION PR FRIDAY FEATURE IMAGE 4

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

…for the week of August 1, 2016

  • Major players at Elle Canada join FASHION and have some big roles to take on immediately (via Canadian Magazines)
  • There is no throwing shade at the John Frieda #ShadesOfMe campaign ruling the Instagram personalized content game (via Convince & Convert)
  • NOT using Facebook video, both pre-recorded and live, is limiting your reach (via Meet Edgar)
  • These 5 concepts are the driving forces of the retail industry & are forecasting the future of how we consume fashion (via Apparel)
  • Perfecting the selfie isn’t as easy as it looks, thankfully Jordyn Woods gave us the 411 (via Bustle)
  • The footwear industry is hitting the ground running towards beating the apparel industry in growth (via PYMNTS)
  • What could a beer brewing company and a baggage designer have in common? (via PR Newswire)
  • Our eternal love of ‘The Hills’ was re-sparked this week with “The Hills: That Was Then, This Is Now”, and then we got a reminder of how much we’ve been influenced by them in the world of fashion too (via Fashionista)
  • Instagram is the new prettier, more put together version of Snapchat and we love this about the app’s new features (via Fast Co Design)
  • The way marketers measure the success of their strategies is about to change with the constant evolution of social media (via Rappler)

A Quick Guide to Social Media Quizzes for Community Engagement

Social Media Quiz

With a potential for massive reach and customization, brands can use social media quizzes to boost social traffic, entertain and engage audiences, generate leads and bring in revenue. Here’s what you’ll need to know before you create a quiz.

1. Pick a Quiz Creation Tool

Successful quizzes appeal to a person’s need to learn more about themselves and validate their wants and needs. But it’s also important for them to be interactive and visually appealing. Tools like QzzrInteract, and ShortStack and other third-party software help with coding and picking elegant, yet simple design themes. Pick the right one and you might get language support, too!

2. Choose what type of quiz you want to create

In order to create something that both entertains and serves your greater marketing purpose, the first step is to choose a quiz category that serves both goals. The best social media quizzes have a natural tone and use a mix of text and images. Keep in mind that quizzes are not full-blown tests. Eight to ten questions is a standard count and will take about 3-5 minutes, which is on the top-end of the amount of time most social users are ready to spend before receiving a result. To that end, there are two different quiz types that tend to drive up participation.

To that end, there are two different quiz types that tend to drive up participation.

Knowledge Quiz

A knowledge quiz tests for awareness around a particular topic; it’s a fundamental wrong or right type of quiz. This type of quiz is a fun way to assess various audiences and challenge the customers concerning information they have about your product, brand or a lifestyle/pop culture aspect that plays well into your brand voice and target audience preferences.

Personality Quiz

We all love to learn about ourselves (and to share those insights through social media), which is what makes a personality quiz so effective. For fashion and lifestyle brands, questions about style preferences, “what’s your summer style,” or “what does your wardrobe say about you,” work well – and give you the opportunity to bring in lookbook images to brand quiz visuals.

2. Create an enticing headline

According to social media experts, 80% of readers will gauge the worth of a post from its title. The same extends to your quiz title, it must inspire curiosity and a desire to know the answer. You can take your cue from viral content powerhouses like UpWorthy and Buzzfeed. So, it puts pressure on you to create an impressive title.

Here’s a headline tip: Include the word ‘actually’ in the title to boost interest and to add an extra oomph of persuasion to drive your audience to find out exactly how much they know, or to determine a definitive personality based question.

3. Make a lead capture for your quiz

Doing a quiz for the sake of engaging with your audiences has some merit, but in reality, brands create social media quizzes to acquire important data about their audiences. Consider what your goals are with regard to your quiz. An easy way (though one that will incur a bit of a drop-off completion rate), is to require an email address before showing results.

Quizzes help introduce brands and products to audiences. Plus, you can drive traffic to blogs and articles written by (or about) you and drive audiences to events you’re hosting.

4. Create share-worthy visuals for your quiz results

It’s important that your quiz is coded to work well with various social platforms. For Facebook specifically, it’s important that your results be highly visual – whether charts/graphs or beautiful images. In order to share the quiz with friends and followers, the quiz taker must feel proud and excited about their results and how they look on their profile.

Quizzes are easy to create, fun, and interactive, and can be implemented into any social strategy. For best results,  ensure that you have a clear goal, data capture process and of course, an enticing question that your target audience can’t help but need to be answered.

About Nancy Grace

Nancy Grace is a social media writer at iDigic.net who also contributes for hundreds of other blogs. Her articles predominantly focus on social media and are widely followed by readers from all over the world.

PR Girls We Love: Kristen Chin, Principal at POM Public Relations

Kristen Chin at POM PR Office

POM Public Relations is a lifestyle and event PR firm based in Austin, TX. After spending seven years specializing in regional and national media relations, Kristen Chin established this new venture in the summer of 2010. POM PR currently works with Elevé Cosmetics, kiki nass, FOUND, Shaesby, Austin Fashion Week, the 30th Annual AIA Austin Homes Tour, and Fashion X Dallas, among others. From 2008 to 2010, Chin worked at a small Austin firm as an Account Director managing an array of cultural arts, non-profit, entertainment, and special event clients. Prior to that, Chin was an Account Supervisor at B|W|R Public Relations, where she worked on a wide range of corporate entertainment, hospitality, and special event clients. Before B|W|R, Chin was an account executive at Chasen & Company Public Relations, where she handled personal publicity for music and film heavyweights including music producer Glen Ballard (Alanis Morissette) and Dave Stewart (The Eurhythmics).


Kristen Chin, POM PR (headshot)Name:
 
Kristen Chin
Company: POM Public Relations
Title: Principal
Education: BA University of California, San Diego and JD University of San Francisco

Twitter: @POM_PR//@Kristen_Chin
Instagram: @POMPublicRelations

How did you get started in PR?

Being a History and Political Science double major, I had always enjoyed research and writing. I moved to LA after graduate school because I was searching for a creative job within the entertainment industry. After stints at a record label (Universal Music Group) and then a talent agency (ICM), I landed my first PR job with the inimitable Ronni Chasen. She took a chance on me, was an incredible mentor, and helped me build my PR skill set – everything from media clipping on the Xerox machine to pitching Page Six via Fax!

How did you get the job you have now?

When I eventually moved on from Chasen & Company, I worked at B|W|R Public Relations and had an extraordinary experience working with a great team of publicists. My projects varied from Oscar parties and museum openings to destination hotels and denim brands. Moving to Austin, nearly a decade ago, I craved the type of clients that I had the opportunity to work with in LA. While there were a handful of entertainment and hospitality firms, nothing was focused specifically on retail, fashion, beauty and e-commerce. With the encouragement of several other PR pros around town, I founded POM PR.

What are your primary responsibilities?

Being a boss! Seriously though, being a boss is a part of the gig. I enjoy managing and teaching the team, but I am also entrenched in handling day-to-day PR activities and client relationships. I love being involved in all aspects from growing my relationships with media to brainstorming about new business. On the operations side, I have some outside support, but ultimately I’m still responsible for the accounting too.

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

I personally handle much of the PR and marketing for the clients. As the line between editorial and advertorial has blended, particularly with blogs and social, I find that having one point person to determine both is helpful. Our Account Executive, Mandy Mayekawa, heads up PR as well as Social Media, and we have a rock star Graphic Designer Pam Caperton. To accommodate for the ebbs and flows of our business in Austin, we have two to four support team members at any given time. We’re uniquely situated in our market as we’re not a large firm, but we’re also not a one-person show. It allows us to be nimble and work with the type of clients we love.

What is the mood like in the office?

Our current office playlist includes Coeur de Pirate, The Weeknd, Jay-Z, and the new Maxwell album.

What are you currently working on?

We’re busy rolling out new products for an all-natural make up line Elevé Cosmetics; finding placements for fine jewelry line Shaesby’s latest diamond slice collection; and planning for Fashion X Dallas, among other things.

Fashion X Dallas 2014

Fashion X Dallas 2014. ‘Mysterious’ by NPN. Image Credit: Shana Anderson

 

What are you really good at?

Faces and names.

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

Recently, we reconnected with a past retail/boutique client. It’s always nice to hear that sales were stronger while we were on board helping with PR and Marketing. Knowing that our involvement does affect bottom line is incredibly rewarding as we’re helping other business owners succeed.

Most memorable and meaningful moments in your career thus far?

My most memorable would have to be covering interviews with Bono during Awards Season in LA and helping Mick Jagger and Dave Stewart win a Golden Globe!

Most meaningful would be working on Stand Up To Cancer. Everyone has been touched by cancer in some way, and the scale of that event is massive, so you really feel you’re making an impact and pushing research forward.

My most rewarding project by far has been Austin Fashion Week. Aside from founder Matt Swinney, I’m the only other team member who’s been on the project since its inception in 2009. We’ve been able to create and build something unique and special for not only the Austin community but also for independent designers seeking a platform to show their work. Seeing each incarnation has been incredibly fulfilling.

Backstage at Austin Fashion Week 2011 with Designer Gail Chovan Credit: Jesse Knish

Backstage at Austin Fashion Week 2011 with Designer Gail Chovan. Image Credit: Jesse Knish

 

Most glamorous moment in your career thus far?

Running the red carpet at the opening of The Broad Contemporary Art Museum at LACMA. Walking Takashi Murakami down the carpet!

Least glamorous moment in your career thus far?

Killing a wasps’ nest outside our office door!

What’s a big challenge facing communicators right now?

For us, one of the biggest hurdles out there is how affiliate programs have affected social media opportunities for local brands and boutiques that aren’t a part of an affiliate program. We understand that big box retailers and affiliates are how bloggers are making a living, but we also feel there is a space for locally-owned shops with a point of view. Consumers should have a choice when shopping.

We’ve been able to create and build something unique and special for not only the Austin community but also for independent designers seeking a platform to show their work.

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

A friend once told me, “It’s PR, not ER.” I have friends who are doctors and lawyers, and at the end of the day, their outcomes can seriously affect lives. Our business is about promotion, and if a certain press hit doesn’t happen, it’s not the end of the world. We’ll find other opportunities.

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

  • Cision
  • Iconosquare
  • Coffee

What do you wish more people understood about your job?

I wish there was an easier way to quantify ROI and for people to understand that awareness may or may not directly result in immediate sales. Depending on your product or sales cycle, sales can lag behind the press, but PR does have value and is an integral piece of the marketing puzzle.

 

SXSW 2016 Kristen interviews on 'I Was Just Saying That' podcast

SXSW 2016: Kristen (right) was with interviewed with Kimya Kavehkar (editor) on ‘I Was Just Saying That’ podcast, hosted by Michelle Pimm.

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

We’re fortunate that we are based in Austin, as SXSW and SXstyle, in particular, have been helpful in terms of discovery, connection, and learning about new industry trends. We also read WWD religiously!

What type of person thrives at your company?

Having a determined work ethic will take you far at POM PR.

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

Bring a copy of your resume to the interview!!!
Thanks, Kristen!

 

 

Fashion PR Defined: What is a Pull Letter or Letter of Responsibility?

LOR Pull Letter Fashion PR Celebrity Stylist

Every industry has its own jargon and acronyms and the fashion public relations industry is no exception. The pull letter, letter of responsibility, or LOR for short, is an important component when working with freelance stylists and market editors who want to borrow product samples for magazine shoots or VIP dressing opportunities.

A pull letter includes the shoot dates, story theme, publication date and sample return date. Most importantly, the letter states that the publication will take financial responsibility for any products loaned and pay for replacements in the event of loss or damage. Basically, it is an agreement that client samples will be returned, and that should anything happen to the item, costs will be covered by the borrower. Particularly important for luxury brands (losing a diamond bracelet on a red carpet or a rip down the back of a couture gown is a huge financial problem, as you can imagine), requiring a signed LOR, whether provided by the publication or by the publicist on behalf of the brand, is a smart best practice for any PR company lending out samples.

Pro tip: Since freelance stylists are not employed in-house at a publication, they will usually provide a pull letter or letter of responsibility from an editor at the publication they’re shooting for. Make sure the letter includes the editor’s contact information so you can reach out and confirm the stylist is, in fact, working on a project for the publication. You can also use social media to vet freelance stylists. Most stylists and editors use social media to promote their work, so it’s a good practice to check out their accounts and/or website and see examples of their work before deciding whether to loan samples for a shoot.

Pull letters help establish a comfort level when you’ve never worked with a stylist before, or you’re unfamiliar with their work. For publications, it provides a safety net should anything go “missing” in the shoe closet, and sets your client’s mind at ease. If you are at all concerned about the proper and safe return of samples, ensure the LOR has a clause about when and how to recover lost costs, should anything go wrong. You may also require a credit card on file, or a deposit to further ensure peace of mind. If you are planning on developing an in-house or standard agency document to use for sample requests, be sure to have it reviewed by an attorney to ensure it is an enforceable legal document.

5 Pricing Fundamentals for Freelance PR Services

Freelance Pricing Public Relations

These days the internet is rife with entrepreneurs publishing income reports, and it’s become much more normal for freelance PR practitioners to share hard numbers, at least among a few trusted colleagues. In fact, one of the most surprising things about running your own business might be how much you come to enjoy poking and prodding at income reports, expanding your skill set to include basic bookkeeping, accounting and of course, sales.

One of the biggest challenges facing freelance PR professionals is figuring out appropriate pricing for services – after all, there is no handy hourly-rate chart and, as any client will tell you, there’s a huge amount of variance within the industry. A lack of clarity around the going rate for services, combined with the need to simply have enough business to cover expenses leads many freelancers to undersell themselves. It’s time we all know and charge our worth; after all, we help absolutely no one, clients included, by undervaluing public relations and marketing expertise.

Fortunately, there are many ways to go about adopting a pricing policy for your freelance services.

1. Research salary information of PR agency professionals

While not an exact match (remember as a freelancer you need to be putting away 20-30% of your income for taxes and are responsible for your own health benefits and software), finding out the salary information of someone in your industry with similar experience is a great place to start. Glassdoor provides salary info per industry, job, and location. Payscale is another resource to find relevant salary information.

Pay attention to the different in pay for similar jobs among start-ups and more established companies, and vet this against your target client profile. By knowing what prospective clients would pay to hire a full-time, in-house professional or agency of record, you can price yourself competitively.

2. Factor in operating expenses

It costs money to run a business, and you need to factor in your operating costs into your hourly rate or project fee. After all, in the same way that PR agencies factor in the costs of software, hardware, subscriptions, rent, and salary into their retainer figures, you need to consider your own expenses. Even if you plan to work from home, your cell phone plan, pro accounts, internet bill are all worth factoring into part of the value you offer clients. Don’t get carried away however, some of this is just the cost of doing business; I don’t suggest working your Texture subscription into this, for example!

3. Determine a pricing structure

Consider how you will charge clients (monthly or weekly retainer, hourly rate, flat project fee) and any incentives or discounts you might want to offer clients who pay upfront, or who refer you new business.

It’s also important to consider what kind of cash-flow you need to stay afloat among standard net-30, net-60 and net-90 invoice turnaround times.

At a very base level, here are 2 different ways to get some foundational pricing together:

  1. Find a salary that seems comparable to what you would make as an employee and boost it with a 30% buffer for taxes and expenses. Divide that number by how many hours you plan on working each week (consider billable vs non-billable hours very closely – you aren’t going to be able to bill everything back to a client) and then multiply that sum by 4 to figure out how much money you need coming in each month (and then by 52 to get a sense of what that looks like in terms of total annual income).
  2. Start with a number that means success to you, it could be an annual figure or an hourly rate that feels in line with your experience and your ability to get results for clients. Then do the math to figure out how that works out in terms of the number of clients you’ll need, or the number of retainers or projects necessary to get you that minimum income needed to keep going.

Once you have a monetary goal in mind that is grounded in research, you’ll be able to confidently communicate your pricing and know that you need to achieve certain benchmarks in order to achieve your income goals.

4. Investigate your relationship with money

Even with salary research, checking in with colleagues and doing the math, asking for money is rarely easy and putting down that figure on your proposal for a potential freelance client can be nerve-wracking. You want the business, and you want to avoid being seen as too expensive, all of which is connected to often agonizing issues of self-worth. By taking some time to explore your relationship with money and its connection to your value, you can refrain from underselling yourself just to get the job.

Think about this: devaluing yourself not only results in reduced income, but it will never allow you to truly achieve the lifestyle you are after, the clients you are after, and the room to do your best work (a scarcity mindset doesn’t help with creativity and or client enthusiasm).

5. Determine your key benefits

As a freelancer, you have some pretty big benefits to offer a prospective client. Among them, the value of having one person completely focused on their project rather than a big agency team, reduced overhead expenses, and less red tape. When you are clear about what you bring to the table as a freelancer and can effectively communicate those benefits in terms of increased efficiency and results, it’s possible to turn potential sticker shock into clear savings. Clients really just want to see results, so be sure that any conversations about pricing are couched with examples of how you have been able to do amazing work for other clients.

At the end of the day, there’s a number that feels good to you and sounds doable to clients. Listen for that number and then vet it against the above steps to ensure your pricing is on point.

Apple’s PR Strategy, Net-A-Porter invades China, & Bill Clinton’s DNC Attire

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

…for the week of July 25, 2016

  • Feeling like you’re owning job interviews, but not getting the job? A little self-evaluation to make sure you’re not doing these things might help (and so will our free “How to Ace your PR Interview” guide) (via Media Bistro)
  • Editorial at Time, Inc. is seeing a major changing of the guard  just a week after Alan Murray joined the company (via AdWeek)
  • The one requirement of all web writing: readability (via Hubspot)
  • Moving up in your company can bring about a lot of change, including direct reports. Here’s how to manage them (via Levo)
  • B*tch stole my look and my name! The battle of the two Burberrys (via The Fashion Law)
  • Lessons learned after 10 years doing PR for Apple  (via Harvard Business Review)
  • Instagram is the name, knowing how to use it is our game. As such, we can always use more tips (via Buffer)
  • As online luxury sales continue to climb, Net-A-Porter continues global expansion, starting with China (via South China Morning Post)

How Sharing My PR Secrets Actually Grew My Business

Wedding PR DIY PR

When I first started my wedding PR agency five years ago, I ran it as if I was 007. I kept my clients arms length from journalists because I was afraid that if I wasn’t a necessary go-between, I would be deemed irrelevant. I had no friends in PR because I was terrified that they would become my competitors. And I never divulged my professional secrets to anyone.

My motto was basically: Publicists are like secret agents. We never share our sources; we keep our clients informed on a need-to-know basis, and we always keep our pitches under lock and key.

But earlier this year, I decided to change the direction of my company. I began teaching small business owners in the wedding industry the basics of PR so that they could go and get publicity for themselves. You may be thinking, isn’t that basically putting yourself out of work? For years, that’s what I thought as well. But then I saw the light.

My motto was basically: Publicists are like secret agents. We never share our sources; we keep our clients informed on a need-to-know basis, and we always keep our pitches under lock and key.

The wedding industry, like many other niche industries, is made up of many small businesses that cannot afford a traditional PR agency retainer. Eventually, I realized that this particular market – let’s call them the 99% – were never going to become full-time clients anyway, and it wasn’t going to work to simply keep trying to convince them they needed PR. Instead, I pivoted in my business and created a specific way to help these smaller operations.

Earlier this summer, I published a DIY PR book, Marry the Media (it’s on Amazon if you’re curious) and began teaching workshops and webinars. I also shared my formerly best-kept secrets and guest blogged for industry magazines. It has been a lot of work, but this decision created several unexpected benefits for both me and my business. 

Here are 5 lessons learned from sharing my PR secrets:

New Challenges are Invigorating

After a few years in PR, I had stopped feeling challenged and was, quite honestly, bored. While my clients changed, the essence of what I did on a daily basis didn’t. However, writing a book, learning about self-publishing, growing an email list, developing a webinar and learning the ins and outs of online marketing was actually…fun. It felt like going back to school and there wasn’t a single day I was bored.

Authenticity Works

When I told a friend I wanted to teach DIY PR, she asked me whether it would dilute my brand. Her concern was legitimate. After all, I had a reputation for working with top brands, and here I was suddenly going after a DIY audience of small business owners.

What I found was the complete opposite; choosing to teach and share what I know actually strengthened my credibility. By growing my own reputation as a teacher, I also stepped out of a so-called PR closet that many solo practitioners hide in, thinking that clients prefer larger operations than a one-woman show. Even though I’ve had periods when I’ve had staff and interns and contractors, my agency has always essentially been me. For years, I covered up this truth, using corporate speak (lots of “we”) and pretending “we” were bigger than “we” were.

Now, I no longer pretend we is actually just me. It’s my name on the book cover and I’m standing in front of people at workshops. I realized that selling “me” was what I should have done all along. My clients don’t want a big, faceless agency. What they want is somebody authentic, intelligent, respected, and connected who they can trust. Now, I feel like I am that person.

Thought Leadership Opens Doors

Before I decided to go in this new direction, back when I was 007, I was rarely invited to speak or share my expertise. People likely saw me as someone who was interested in getting new clients and nothing more. But now that I am willing to share and educate others, it’s different. Editors are enthusiastic about publishing my articles because PR is always an on-demand topic for their readers. B2B companies invite me to speak to their clients, which exposes me to a larger audience. Industry influencers are more eager to collaborate with me because I have value I can pass on to their audiences. And more doors keep opening.

I realized that selling “me” was what I should have done all along. My clients don’t want a big, faceless agency. What they want is somebody authentic, intelligent, respected, and connected who they can trust.

Diversifying Revenue Streams is Empowering

The book and several accompanying DIY products I’ve launched provide new revenue sources for my agency. It’s still only about 15% of the total, but I see the growth potential. To me, the most important benefit is that now I’m no longer stuck selling my time. By converting my knowledge and experience into products, I’m now selling value, which is easier to scale.

All in all, my decision to open up and teach the PR skills which I used to hoard is changing my business for the better. I hope that more publicists realize the potential benefits of sharing their knowledge.

About Sasha

Sasha Vasilyuk is the founder and CEO of I DO PR, a public relations agency for wedding and lifestyle brands. She is also an award-winning journalist published in USA Today, Harper’s Bazaar, Newsweek, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle as well as the author of Marry the Media: How to Gain Publicity for Your Wedding Business.

5 Body Language Tips For Your Next Client Presentation

Public Relations Presentation Body language

As the adage goes, we only have one chance to make a first impression. To be exact, research tells us it’s more like 4 seconds; that’s how quickly we form judgments about others after an initial introduction. It’s another 30 seconds before that judgment is largely finalized.

As professional communicators, our lives often feel largely digital, consisting of a ton of email, conference calls, and texts, but that work is largely due to our ability to pitch and secure new business, establish and extend media and partner relationships, and seize opportunities wherever we find them. All of these efforts require us is to facilitate trusting, long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships, which often starts by making a positive, in-person impression. our physical presence, charisma and yes, body language.

When pitching a potential client, we often focus on the proposal itself; the creative ideas, presenting our expertise and establishing rapport as trustworthy experts in our field. And while the actual contents of the presentation are crucial, Business Insider reports that 93% of people’s judgments of others are based on non-verbal input like body language. Brian Tracy, a leading authority on the development of human potential and personal effectiveness, claims that 55% of a person’s opinion about someone else is determined by physical appearance.

So before you gather the troops and head into the conference room with your laptop, projector and handouts, make sure your team has been properly prepped on a different kind of presentation,

1.  You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile

From your entrance into the room to the actual presentation, you’re giving off a ton of subtle clues that are being interpreted, often unconsciously, by others in the room. While it’s not necessary to go full on pageant, by walking in with bright eyes and an easy smile, you are instantly commanding attention and putting everyone at ease. By commanding the stage with enthusiasm and excitement, you can affect not only your own mood but the entire vibe of the room.

2. Use Power Posing to Exude Confidence

Exude-confidenceIf you haven’t yet viewed Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk on body language, it’s a must for you and anyone on your pitch team. Power posing is basically the idea that how we stand can change our own confidence level, improve other’s perception of us as leaders and directly impact the success of our interpersonal exchanges.

While so you don’t need to stand for 30 seconds power posturing like Kimmy Schmidt, you do want to make sure you are demonstrating confidence to decision-makers by knowing the basics of body language.

Prepping with power posturing combined with some positive self-talk (you can do this in a mini-huddle with your fellow team members if pitching as a group) can make huge strides in remembering to keep your physical presence top of mind during the pitch.

For me, I make it a point to sneak off to the bathroom before the pitch starts. I stand as tall as I possibly can, roll my shoulders back, tilt my chin up, and look myself dead in the eyes with my head held high and tell myself something like, “you’re one strong, courageous woman. You are prepared, you have great ideas and are going to nail this pitch.” By walking into a meeting high on self-confidence plus conscious body posture, I radiate determination, poise, and trust; all characteristics that clients are looking for from their PR professional.

2. Handshakes all around the table

Take advantage of the meet & greet and set-up phase of your presentation, to be proactive about connecting with everyone at the table with strong eye contact and a firm handshake. Resist the urge to fumble with technology or chat nervously with your co-workers. You set the stage for connection by putting out your hand and introducing yourself to every person in that room. By establishing quick yet direct contact with each individual in the room you increase their attention and interest in your pitch.

3. Make a Personal Connection

In addition to the standard handshake, aim to make a real personal connection during your pitch by allowing room for personal anecdotes and relationship-building tangents. After all, how much do you love it when an honest, not creepy stranger gives you a sincere compliment? Doesn’t it have the potential to turn your whole day around? Easy wins in our business can be as simple as noticing a great haircut, laptop case or pair of shoes.

When you make it a point to address your contact by pointing your body directly at them. Approaching someone at an angle sends off subconscious signals of insecurity and mistrust.

4. Stop Fidgeting!

We all have nervous ticks – rocking back and forth, bouncing from foot to foot, throat-clearing, or descending into a plain-faced scowl. During a presentation, you need to keep your energy and focus up in order to help your prospective client be an active participant in your pitch. Fidgeting distracts from the core message and puts the focus on your hair-pulling, rather than your brilliant strategy.

Before you pitch, record a prep session to discover what subconscious behaviors your audience may experience when you present.

5. Take up space

This is your time to shine, so own the room by moving about and commanding attention. Hand gestures give more meaning to your most important points, so use them. When you’re comfortable being in the spotlight, your audience becomes more comfortable with you as well.

The Gernard Method recommends the following:

  1. Choose a different spot to deliver each of your main points. In a small performance space, this may mean taking just a step or two before each point.
  2. If you’re discussing a chronology, move from your audience’s left to their right as you talk about each stage or element of a timeline. In Western societies, left-to-right is how we read, and your audience will follow your time progression easily.
  3. If you’re outlining sides of an argument or alternatives, stand in one spot for one side of the argument, in another place for the alternative, then remain where you are or go back to your original position, depending upon which side of the argument or alternative you agree with.

As a communications pro, you likely have a ton of natural charisma. Put it to good use by ensuring that what you say, as well as how you say it, supports your ability to facilitate and foster trust among prospective clients, making it clear sense that you are the right person for the job.

PR Agency News: JANA PR, CGPR & Luxury Brand Group

PR Agency News

JANA Public Relations announces the representation of jewelry designer Britt Bolton and shoe designer, Monika Chiang

East coast fashion and outdoor PR agency, CGPR has opened an Orange County location and made their first west coast hire; Angie Mathews will act as Account Executive out of the Costa Mesa office, helping to expand CGPR’s national client base.

Jen Cullen WilliamsManaging Director at Luxury Brand Group, won the Communications and Marketing Award at last night’s Women’s Jewelry Association’s annual Awards for Excellence gala.

Be Less Stressed: 6 Organizational Strategies for PR Professionals

Project Management Time Tracking Public Relations

Working in PR means a never-ending to-do list (client research, social media management, editor desksides, staying on top of industry latest trends to start), not to mention a barrage of back-to-back meetings, client requests, and seemingly nonstop email/slack/text exchanges each day. So how do savvy PR and marketing professionals stay organized?

Here are some of my favorite, hard-earned tricks, tips and tools to keep you at the top of your game and more organized with your to-do list, your clients, and your schedule:

1. Make your to-do list mobile

Whether scribbled in a notebook, or a combination of email and appointments everyone has a preferred method of keeping a list of what needs to get done. A great way to ensure you’re priorities are top of mind is to choose an app that will keep your tasks at the ready, even when you are not at your desk. Get immediate access to anything you might need on your list right when and where you need it with an app like Todoist or Wunderlist with Gmail integration.

2. Conquer energy-giving tasks first

With your to-do list in hand, it’s time to get to work. Each day you’re faced with a list of tasks, and among them, a sense of each tasks priority or deadline. There are a ton of productivity methodologies out there – and many, like the popular “eat the frog,” or “worst first” concepts advocate selecting the item on your to-do list you dread and getting that out of the way first. It makes some sense, because once you’ve crossed off that task, the rest of the day is likely downhill. But I’m advocating a different approach; start your day with a task that lights you up and gives you an energy surge (instead of post-frog nausea). Once you’ve found your groove it’s much more likely that you’ll have the stomach (ha!) for the task further down on your list.

One caveat, of course, is to truly understand what tasks are a priority – immediate client issues, editor requests, and sample pulls are likely to take priority over Pinterest research!

3. Step away from email and embrace project management

Email is handy, but easily becomes unmanageable when work gets busy. Instead of dealing with multi-response threads and not having the right team members on a particular series of emails, not to mention a lack of clarity about who is owning what, move away from email and think like a project manager.

Start your day with a task that lights you up and gives you an energy surge…

These days, online-to-mobile accessible project management software enables client and agency teams to collaborate on various initiatives start to finish with integrated conversations, timelines, dashboards and tasks. If you’re an agency CEO or company owner, I’m partial to Asana, check out Teamwork and Basecamp. For individuals and teams, take a look at Trello. For many of us in the fashion & lifestyle space, the aesthetics of our organizational tools are just as important as our client’s new lookbook. Trello is a visual collaboration tool that organizes projects into boards and checklists so you can see what is being worked on and who is working on what.

4. Set up Systems and Automations

There are likely multiple tasks that you perform over and over – client onboarding, media tracking, invoicing – and without a clear process in place you’re basically scrambling each time to find all your previous documents, emails and spreadsheets and modify them to the project at hand. Using a project management system will help, but truly organized types swear by their systems. The next time you find yourself sitting down to do the same thing you did last week, stop and take the time to create a template and checklist that documents your approach. Not only will you be more efficient the next time around, but you can more easily handoff these type of projects to someone else who can simply follow your best practices (cue the confetti and the extra glass of rosé at lunch).

5. Batch pitch for better workday flow

If you’re pitching a different coast or international time zone, there’s no need to get up at 4 am in order to ensure your pitches are at the top of an editor’s inbox. Instead, set aside time to batch and then schedule pitches to send when you want them go out. An email application like Boomerang not only lets you schedule emails to be sent at certain times, but you can also better automate follow-ups with email reminders. Basically, the app will put the outreach as unread in your inbox at a time you designate, making it easy to quickly shoot over follow ups without having to take an extra step to review your tracking sheet, calendar reminders or task list.

6. Track Your Time

Oh where does the time go? Unstructured meetings, endless brainstorms and yes, long client lunches are all to blame for making it feel like the days are simply too short to get it all done. If you’re feeling like you never get time to actually sit at your desk and do the work, it’s time to get vigilant about tracking and analyzing your time.

Timing apps like Focus Booster or Be Focused both use a time-blocking method to split your day into chunks of time with breaks in between.  Toggl will track the time you spend on projects, pitches, releases and status calls with categories and names for each entry. You might be afraid to look at RescueTime, the app that tracks how much time you’re spending in Gmail, Facebook and Poshmark, but you should.

There’s nothing quite like the rush and pace of PR, but we’re working with two hands, one brain and finite patience to keep everything turning. With these tools and tips for staying organized and getting the job done right, the first time, you can start to GSD (get sh*t done) in a way that will leave your coworkers and clients wondering how you did it.

In case you’re more of a scroller than a reader, here’s the 101:

  1. Have your to-do list follow you around with ToDoist or Wunderlist
  2. Email is out. Project Management is in. Asana. Basecamp. Slack. PS: Trello might change your life
  3. Work on what you love, first
  4. Create systems for recurring tasks
  5. Batch pitching and follow ups with an app like Boomerang
  6. Identify time sucks with Be Focused. Focus Booster. Toggl. RescueTime

Twitter Verification for All, Self-Esteem Branding & Keeping up with Audrey Cooper

Fashion PR Fridays Image 3

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

…for the week of July 18, 2016

  • The little blue check mark goes public. Anyone can now apply to verify their Twitter – a major perk for influencers of all genres (via The Verge)
  • One minute you’re InStyle, the next you’re out (via The New York Post)
  • Forget Keeping Up with the Kardashians, we’re more interested in keeping up with Audrey Cooper (via The Cut)
  • A little inspiration for your next earned media campaign (via Business 2 Community)
  • A shift in fashion shows is on the horizon. Susie Lau aka Susie Bubble shares her thoughts on the future of runways in this interview (via Vogue)
  • Vacation isn’t just good for the memories (and inspiring FOMO), it’s proving to be good for your wellbeing (via PR Daily)
  • Lean in is getting a re-think (via WSJ)

 

5 Reasons I Quit Freelance PR and Took The Job

Should you quit your freelance PR career?

A little over one year ago, I made the decision to leave my freelance hustle and accept a job offer. I started freelancing because I wasn’t happy with any agency I had worked for. Being underpaid, overworked and having limited responsibilities were my biggest pain points. Then, after building a successful client base as a freelancer, something interesting happened; companies started reaching out to me with (great) job offers. Here are the five reasons why I decided to quit the freelance life:

1. I wanted to expand my areas of expertise

An opportunity that was in a vertical I’d never worked in came calling. Why did they want someone with no experience in their industry you might ask? The team was looking for someone with luxury lifestyle experience to bring to their historically archaic industry. I value the idea of continuing to learn, and appreciated that this position was not only in a different vertical, it gave me the opportunity to collaborate with another employee on email campaigns, the direction of the website and all marketing materials.

2. I was looking for a credibility boost 

As a PR professional with only two years of experience, I found it a challenge to convince prospective clients that I was capable of managing their account. The role I accepted offered me complete ownership and control of the company’s social media and public relations efforts. This position was a great boost to my resume, proving that I could handle the executive-level responsibility. I worked with a six-figure marketing budget, ran my work day and reported directly to the CEO.

3. I got those, Good Team Vibes

The team understood and loved that I was entrepreneurial, young and hungry. When I interviewed at this company and met everyone, I felt that this was truly a team I would work well with, and also enjoy socializing with after work.

4. Consistent Pay and Cheaper Health Insurance

As a freelancer, there were weeks where I made no money, and weeks when I felt I was killing it. The ups and downs of freelance work meant that I wasn’t saving at all, much less for retirement. The idea of earning a consistent paycheck with a bonus structure was incredibly appealing, not to mention quality health coverage.

5. The ability to turn off from work

You eat what you kill as a freelancer and it’s a nonstop hustle. I found it impossible to turn off work and simply enjoy myself. I would be at the club pitching people at the table about why they should hire me. I would attend networking events almost every night to keep my prospective client funnel full. With a regular 9 to 5 job, it’s easier to move away from work concerns during the evening. A full-time job also helped me with boundaries – responding to late night or weekend emails wasn’t expected – which was something I had always done as a freelancer. After months of always being on, being able to put a period on my work day was a major perk.

When I reentered the 9 to 5 grind, I didn’t forget why I left. Instead, I told myself, “if you find the culture turning into the culture that you left, don’t be afraid to voice your concerns.” I already knew that I could make it on my own, so what did I have to lose?

About Sabrina Wottreng

Sabrina Wottreng 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.