4 Reasons Retail Sales is Great Prep for Working at a PR Agency

To all the girls who came late to the PR party, this is for you.

Once upon a time, I was a Fashion Merchandising major.  I would mentally roll my eyes whenever I heard someone say, “I think I’m going to change my major…again.”  I’d think: why is it so hard for my peers to settle on a career choice?  I was content in knowing that I knew what I wanted to do with my life.  FASHION.  Visions of New York City skylines and coffee dates with Tim Gunn whooshed through my mind, keeping me motivated to relinquish the snooze button before my 7:30am Fashion History: 19th to 21st Century course with Professor Monotone. 

But then something happened.  I switched my major…again and again.  I went from Fashion Merchandising to International Business (travel is cool?) to Communications (talking is fun?) and finally to Marketing (broad enough?).  I was that girl.  My confusion around which path to take at university later extended to my career path post graduation.  When most of my peers were transitioning from ‘identity crisis’ to ‘identity confirmed,’ I was still asking myself: “What am I supposed to DO with my life?”

So naturally, like any girl who doesn’t know what her calling is, I worked retail.  It wasn’t until right before my 27th birthday, with only a year of PR and social media marketing internships under my belt, that I saw an Insta-Ad for a job opening at Beach House PR.  It’s been almost a year since I joined the #BeachHouseGirl gang, and, well…it feels right.   

While it sometimes seems like I’m swimming leagues behind a sea of girl bosses who have been in this industry for years, a PR girl knows how to spin a story for the benefit of its readers.  FACT: Working in the sales industry helped me transition to a social media specialist, and here’s how:

Sales is about service

Public relations 101: Make your client happy! Meeting the needs of our fabulous and diverse clientele requires us to make each of them feel important and cared for.  Remembering details in a retail environment (size 8, hates anything green) builds trust and allows you to anticipate needs and requests. This type of proactive, client-centered thinking is essential to keeping PR clients happy.  In particular, working at a family-owned business taught me how important it is to remember the little things in order to give the customer the best experience possible – and to keep them coming back.

FACT: Working in the sales industry helped me transition to a social media specialist, and here’s how:

Sales requires flexibility

Whenever I get asked what a typical day is like at Beach House PR, my answer is this: There is no typical day!  Welcome to agency life, babe.  Being flexible is vital in working in public relations and social media because you never know what can happen.  Working in retail required an ability to handle any task at hand, from taking out the trash to making a landslide sale.  Being adaptable was key then, and it still is now.

Sales Associates are Expert Multi-Taskers

On any given day, our #girlgang is juggling the social media needs of more than a dozen clients.  Managing a variety of clients at once is a piece of cake…said no one ever.  Okay, while it might not be easy, I’m fortunate to have had a retail position that may as well have doubled as ‘multi-tasking extraordinaire.’  Girls who work in retail have to hustle in order to simultaneously meet their sales goals, help a co-worker in need, and deliver exceptional customer service without breaking a sweat.  

Teamwork wins the day

One of the things I’ve learned while working at an agency, especially with such a close-knit group of girls, is that teamwork is non-negotiable.  Working in retail gave me the skills necessary to successfully work as a team for a greater common goal: making the customer happy.  Bottom line: Team work makes the dream work in both sales AND social media.

Managing a variety of clients at once is a piece of cake…said no one ever.

Not only was working in sales a great career motivator, it taught me valuable lessons that have helped me excel at a kickass PR agency.  If you are taking your time experimenting with multiple career paths, and are thinking about taking that retail job to keep you financially solvent while you wait for your next opportunity, don’t think of it as a step back (or away) from your dreams.  No career experience is wasted experience, even if it doesn’t appear to directly apply to your career goals.

About This Author

Elin Van Atta is a social media specialist at Beach House where she focuses on growing brand awareness and engagement for a variety of fashion, beauty, and lifestyle brands. While always keeping her eye on for the hottest digital trends, she thrives on creating rad content and creative copywriting for her clients. When she's not busy tweeting, placing Facebook ads or studying analytics, Elin can be found running on the beach, trying to be Beyoncé, or traveling with friends...always with a cup of coffee in hand.