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How volunteering in the press office at Sundance kicked off my career A PR Couture Guest Article by Amanda Nelson

How Volunteering Helped Me Build My Social Media Career + 5 Tips for You

We all know the importance of internships when it comes to getting a heel in the door of the fashion communication industry - whether you dream of being a publicist, social media strategist, marketing maven or event production master.  For those of us who are either no longer in school, unable or unwilling to accept unpaid internship after unpaid internship, there is another way to get experience: volunteering.

I frequently volunteer for museums, film festivals, industry conferences and the performance arts.  I can’t stress enough the positive impact that volunteering around my community has had on my career.

I’ve found mentors, made new friends, received job offers, and gained meaningful, relevant industry experience through volunteering. Plus I get the added benefit of knowing I am giving back to my community.

Volunteering is opportunity to give back through creative ways other than through financial support. It has nourished my customer service, organization, time-management, PR skills and more, while also feeding my passion for the arts. I am a believer in volunteering for an organization that speaks to your passions or a cause that touches your soul. When you care about something you are dedicated to, that dedication can open doors.

Pull up a seat for a quick story.

I began volunteering as a preteen with my family through our church. From there it spiraled to my mom’s work at a charter school, PRSSA philanthropy hours at local nonprofits including; Ballet West, and ACLU of Utah -- which grew into a PR internship. Despite being a local, I didn’t volunteer for the Sundance Film Festival until January 2013 where I was placed in their press office. It wasn’t a glamorous role, but I interacted with press and got to see amazing films.

I used my prior volunteer experience to seek out opportunities when I relocated to San Diego in the spring of 2013. I quickly got involved with the San Diego Film Festival and somehow managed to snag an internship for PR Couture. I relocated, again, this time to Los Angeles to accept a 4-month role with the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.  After the role wrapped I headed back to San Diego, and through volunteer connections, I got involved doing social media for Ad 2 San Diego & American Marketing Association, San Diego.

Whew! Now as a Social Media Consultant, a lot of my clients are referred to me through connections I’ve made volunteering.

Below I break down my tips for getting involved in your community and how it can lead to new opportunities.

Get involved with industry events

Can’t afford the ticket to an industry event, conference, festival or even concert? Look into volunteering for the event. There’s everything from registration, bag stuffing, and room hosts for larger events or conferences. Perks usually include attending the event in some capacity.

Volunteer to give and to learn

Sign up to volunteer roles or descriptions outside your comfort zone. Look for roles and opportunities that will add to your skillset and expand the knowledge you already have. Ask organization staff how you can get more involved in a specific area. From event logistics, sponsors, donors, security, fundraising and more, there’s a lot of areas to explore.

Find a local fit

Short-term volunteering is great for events, but there are tons of ways to get involved on an ongoing basis with organizations close to home. After all, your budget might be tight but you have the time. A few hours a month can make a lot of difference to an organization. Pick one or more organization, event, or cause you are passionate about and get involved, give back to your community. Need help selecting the right organization? Use VolunteerMatch.

Know your brand & perfect your elevator pitch  

From the staff behind the event to other volunteers, you’ll be meeting a lot of new people, and first impressions count. Know your career goals, your skills, and why you’re volunteering as you introduce yourself to others. Don’t forget to ask them questions!

Let your ambition shine

Show up on time, do what is requested, and pitch yourself. Make connections with organization staff and regular volunteers. These relationships can turn into mentorships, co-workers, friends, and beyond. Your resources will be willing to help you if you ask.

Volunteering is a lifestyle and one that continuing gives back more than you put in. Happy volunteering!

About Amanda Nelson

Amanda is a creative and vibrant Social Media Consultant with experience managing social media campaigns, developing relationships with bloggers, brand development, creating and curating content. View her digital portfolio and connect on Twitter @mandavision.

Photo Credit: wvs

Social Media Podcasts, an ASOS Instagram Advent Calendar & What a PR Director Really Does Fashion PR, Marketing & Social Media News for the Week of December 1, 2014

Jessica Alba Gets Honest, Men’s Fashion Week Facebook Cheat Sheet & Social Media Musts

  • Seems consumers just can’t quit Black Friday. (via LinkedIn)
  • Curating products on Instagram is helping brands establish a long term relationship with their customers by making them a vital part of their marketing. (via Social Annex)
  • Jessica Alba is shaking off the haters who doubted her and Honest. (via Inc.)
  • Every social media manager needs this Facebook page cheat sheet. (via All Facebook)
  • Get the inside scope on what it’s like to be a PR Director and tips on how you can get there too. (via HooHireWire)
  • New York might be the home of a stand alone Men's Fashion Week. (via The New York Times)
  • Victoria's Secret broke records as it took to London Town for the first time. Did you watch? (via Business Insider)
  • ASOS is in it to win it this holiday with the launch of an Instagram advent calendar competition. (via Digiday)
  • We love a good podcast and these ten social media podcasts are tops. Which would you add? (via Smart Blogs)
  • Is your brand ready for Snapchat? Read this first. (via Shift Communications)
  • Only have 30 minutes to manage social media? Use these tips to maximize your time and make the most boom. (via Entrepreneur)

Favorite Fashion Videos


Photo Credit: Fashion Face Place 

7 Ways To Turn Event Sponsors Into Lasting Relationships A PR Couture Guest Article by Lais Pontes

7-Step PR Guide to Successful Event Sponsorships

Sponsorships are a great way to partner with brands and companies to help underwrite some of the costs of an event and provide more value to guests through unique and engaging activations. At The Pontes Group, we frequently sponsor nonprofit events, which requires us to secure in-kind, cash and media sponsorships for our pro-bono clients. The main goal in working with sponsors is ensuring that as the event producer you are meeting your deliverables. Keeping your sponsor happy guarantees their return for the following year.

Create a streamlined sponsorship package

Identify what assets your event can offer to sponsors and compile a streamlined sponsorship packet of the different available benefits. In addition to your standard title and presenting sponsorships, also include underwriting opportunities for silent auction, valet, photo booth and other key areas of your event.

Determine how each sponsor determines ROI

Each sponsor will have different reasons for partnering with your event and you must pinpoint their individual needs. The deliverables must align with their goals to ensure that each sponsor meets their ROI goals.

Go beyond just a logo and create unique activations

In knowing your sponsor needs you will be able to help them in creating unique activations that go beyond just including their logo on the invite and your website. Assist them in developing activations that truly engage event guests and make an impact for the brand.

Have a written and signed agreement by both parties

It is extremely important to have a signed agreement with each of your sponsors clearly stating what the in-kind or cash donation will be from the sponsors. It should also clarify if there are any associated costs. For example, if a company is donating linens they may require that you cover the cleaning fees. In addition, the agreement should also list all of the deliverables from your end.

Designate a sponsorship coordinator on-site

An on-site sponsorship coordinator should be in charge of several key factors. First and foremost they should have a checklist of all on-site deliverables for the sponsors and confirm that they are all being met. They should periodically check-in with the sponsors to make sure they are happy and satisfied. If there are any issues they should be resolved immediately. Lastly, the on-site sponsorship coordinator should liaison with the media ensuring the sponsors are receiving proper media coverage.

Capture all of the deliverables via photography and/or video during the event

If it isn’t captured on film it doesn't count. Many times, the decision makers of a company will attend the event as a guest, often times missing many of the deliverables, especially if it is a larger event. It is important to catalogue all of the logo placements and activations. The brand may also want to use these later on social media.

Provide a recap report and measure results

After the event it is important to provide a custom event wrap report to each of your sponsors. You should list the deliverables and illustrate through photos how each of them was met. You should also measure the ROI for them. For example, if they sponsored the photo booth, measure the percentage increase in both likes and engagement on social media as a result of the event. The wrap report should be provided 2 weeks after the completion of the event, though you may need to periodically provide updated reports as post-event coverage may take several months.

Sponsorships are a huge part of producing events. Look to build long-term partnerships with companies and brands. Make your sponsors happy, meet their deliverables and keep them coming back for more.


Photo Credit: Jason Hargrove 

Meet Crosby Noricks

Hi. I'm Crosby, the founder of PR Couture and a fashion brand strategist. I care about supporting and celebrating fashion publicists as well as helping companies connect with their audiences in more meaningful ways. Recently, iMedia included me in their annual list of 25 Internet Marketing Leaders and Innovators, along with people from Starbucks, Twitter and Volkswagon, which I think is pretty neat. Like Elle Woods, I am a Gemini-vegetarian (that's about where the similarities end). Let's connect: Check out my full bio, Brand Elixer sessions or shoot me a note.