When it comes to a career in fashion or lifestyle public relations, many of us don’t have much to go on except what we’ve seen in movies or reality TV. From Samantha on Sex & the City to Lauren and Whitney on The Hills, it’s easy to get the idea that PR is all blonde highlights, parties, free clothes and smooching celebrities.
My own first introduction to PR happened in a promotions course at the London College of Fashion. We were given a tear-out from a magazine and told to use it as inspiration for a star-studded event, spare no expense! A fun, creative exercise to be sure, but public relations theories and fundamentals didn’t come my way until graduate school.
The reality is that PR is one of the most misunderstood professions out there. Here are 3 of the biggest myths about what it really takes to make it as a lifestyle communications pro.
Myth #1: You need to be super outgoing and bubbly, like all the time
Reality: Most publicists are natural connectors who enjoy bringing people together. There is an element of sociability (and infinite patience) required when say, manning the VIP list for a runway show, but a ton of the job takes place in front of the computer. It is possible to succeed in the industry if you aren’t an extrovert (raising my hand). You learn to turn it on for short periods (events, presentations, networking), and then schedule in quiet time to recover. In fact, an introvert’s powers of observation can come in very handy – you’ll notice opportunities and interpersonal dynamics others simply won’t.
Myth #2: You need to know absolutely everything about fashion (or whatever industry you’re into)
Reality: As my friend Rachel Meis, CEO at Rachel Meis Communications put it, “we don’t expect you to know every big designer name or the entire history of fashion. That stuff can be taught. You can’t teach work ethic or listening to your gut.” It’s important to not be totally clueless about an industry you purport to love, of course. But it’s much more valuable to have a strong foundation in public relations, a head for strategy and the ability to write impactful, succinct pitch content than to know what Burberry sent down the runway last season.
Myth #3: There’s no math
Reality: Real sorry about this one if you like to say you’re “not a numbers person.” I used that line for years, and then I changed my mind. Numbers, data, analytics – all part of the PR puzzle. Public relations is a business and you’re dealing with helping to achieve the goals of other businesses. Tracking your time, estimating costs for a proposal, determining campaign results…you need to be comfortable with metrics. The more you can do to help your company to be profitable, and the more aware you are of the financial impact of your efforts, the better.
Of course, there are a ton more myths out there (like, all fashion publicists go to Fashion Week), but hopefully these come as somewhat of a relief and you’re feeling excited about PR as a career.