Written by Alyson Roy, Managing Partner of AMP3 PR
Earlier this month, our fashion PR agency hosted its complimentary PR Bootcamp for students: “CAMP3.”
Our goal was to mentor the next generation of PR professionals with the advice we all wished we had received at the beginning of our careers. This year, with so many internship programs being completely canceled due to COVID-19, we were even more eager to offer up a valuable experience that would include some real world training. For the first time, we took the camp virtual, giving opportunity to even more students located all around the country (and no longer limited to just those in the NYC area). Essentially, the camp is a crash course in best practices for Fashion PR, covering media relations, influencer marketing, celebrity styling, social media marketing, and more with sessions and interactive case studies led by various AMP3 team members and 4 featured guest speakers which included: Gabrielle Prescod, Senior Fashion Market Editor at BUSTLE; Lissette Calveiro, Influencer & Social Media Coach; Amanda Lim, Celebrity Fashion Stylist & Lauren Berger, Internship & Career Expert.
In our attempt to pay it forward by investing in these aspiring PR pros, we actually found ourselves renewed and inspired. Although 2020 has shown us some real dark spots of humanity, it has also shown us incredible perseverance, in particular from Gen Z. Sometimes when you set out to teach, you are in turn taught.
Here’s the highlight reel of our discoveries about the next generation during CAMP3 2020:
1. Gen Z Sees Obstacles As Opportunities
When the rug that was 2020 got pulled out from under this determined group of college students and recent college grads, they have taken every opportunity to use the down time to really think about their careers, their goals and how they can use this season to better themselves.
What it looks like: Like many of us, we heard firsthand how they’re listening to podcasts, looking inwards, and thinking about their true purpose. They’re taking advantage of virtual events and courses like CAMP3 to get a deeper look into the day in the life of a publicist. The difference is that they’re doing this BEFORE starting their careers. Unlike us millennials who had to dive head first into our jobs and have never looked back, they are experiencing this slow down at a pivotal moment in their lives and approaching the transition into the real world with thought and intention.
2. Gen Z Thrive in Remote, Digital Environments
We’ve all heard of digital natives. Gen Z is actually defined by the idea that they have little or no memory of the world as it existed before smartphones, and have grown up on digital devices. They are also now the first generation to start careers working remotely from the get-go. As the rest of us adapt to WFH life, this is where they are beginning, and that gives them a real leg up in the long term.
What it looks like: Already in the follow-up job applications we’re receiving from eager campers, we’re seeing how they’re proactively filling the COVID-19 related gaps on their resume with activities like CAMP3, and adding entire sections for their virtual skill sets highlighting their experience with Zoom, GoToMeeting and Microsoft Teams. One student even created a section featuring bullets from her “Summer of COVID-19 Experience.”
3. Gen Z Women Are Collaboration Over Competition in Practice
Fashion PR is a female-dominated field (case and point: ALL of our CAMP3 applicants this year were women) and historically, it’s been known as a competitive or even cut-throat industry.
Our agency has always had a culture of propping each other up, celebrating each other’s wins, and being the first to ask how we can help during the lows.
What it looks like: We witnessed as our campers spent the week asking smart questions and supporting one another. They were proactive about networking with each other, and learning from each others’ experiences. In our follow-up survey and the various thank you notes we received, the notion that these young women will always support other women was welcomed and refreshing.
You are only as happy as the people you surround yourself with, and we tend to spend more time with our colleagues than our families (or at least we all did pre-COVID). They seem to understand and value this. Rather than trying to re-wire an industry to be more supportive, we believe Gen Z will require welcoming and positive environments upfront rather than the toxic ones agencies were once known for.
This post-CAMP3 comment captured the sentiment perfectly:
“One day, I sincerely hope to be the kind of career woman who pays it forward. I’ll think back to CAMP3 and your dedication to us: the next generation of PR professionals. I’ll remember all of the carefully planned sessions and all the informative tips and tricks they contained. I’ll recall how they helped me get my start, and I’ll yearn to do the same for the next girl.”
4. A shift in perspective is timeless
If COVID and quarantine life have taught us all anything this year, it’s to appreciate what we have. Our students spoke to how they’re shifting their perspectives and welcoming the idea of virtual positions in the future.
Some benefits they identified:
(1) a virtual position will mean an easier and less jarring transition into the professional world being that most of them will now work from their childhood bedrooms
(2) saving money on rent in major markets like NYC
(3) for those in smaller markets, the opportunity to try to land big city jobs from their hometowns
(4) embedded work-life balance and the ability to enjoy extra time with family and friends rather than commuting or counting the clock
(5) honing a new set of skills such as Zoom etiquette and heightened time management.
We surveyed the group before and after the sessions to learn why they wanted to pursue a career in PR and the common denominator was that they love how the work and the industry is always evolving. They found the concept of adapting and pivoting exciting. If 2020 hasn’t asked us all to be agile, I don’t know what has.
Although it’s been a year filled with uncertainty and the unexpected, thanks to our time spent with this group of Gen Z’ers, we are optimistic that what’s coming after the storm might just be the best version of ourselves yet.
Alyson Roy is a Co-Founder of AMP3 Public Relations, a boutique agency that specializes in Consumer Lifestyle, Beauty & Fashion PR campaigns, and is currently ranked in the Top 10 Fashion & Beauty firms in the country (according to O’Dwyer’s). In 2017, she was named “Communicator of The Year” by the Bespoke Communication Awards, where AMP3 also took home the distinction for best “Media Event” of the year, and she was also named one of the “50 Game-Changers of PR” by PR News. Most recently, AMP3 has taken home the top slot as “Agency of the Year” at the BCAs as well as “Best Influencer Activation” and “Best Media Activation of the year.” Alyson has spearheaded publicity campaigns for numerous brands from start-ups to global brands including Fossil Group, Wrangler, and Disney. She contributes to a slew of media outlets including PR Couture, PR Week, and O’Dwyer’s, and sits on the Advisory Board for the Conscious Fashion Campaign supported by the UN’s Office for Partnerships & the Sustainable Development Goals. Outside of the office, she serves as a founding Junior Board member for Rosie’s Theater Kids: a non-profit organization that provides music, dance and theater training to under-served inner-city youth.