Advice on How to Make it in Fashion PR from Industry Insiders

Advice on How to Make it in Fashion PR from Industry Insiders

WSJ's Elizabeth Holmes hosts a Spreecast chat on Fashion PR
WSJ’s Elizabeth Holmes hosts a Spreecast chat on Fashion PR

Each week Elizabeth Holmes, style reporter for the Wall Street Journal, hosts a Spreecast discussion with a group of insiders from the fashion industry. Today, she chatted with Kelly Cutrone, founder of People’s Revolution, Aliza Licht, senior vice president of global communications at Donna Karan and Cannon Hodge, social media manager at Bergdorf Goodman about how to make it in Fashion PR.

Below you’ll find some of my favorite (paraphrased) tips and quotes from each pro and a few thoughts on why I think they’re important.

Fashion PR Tips

1. “You have to have the ability to do things that are beneath your ego,” – Kelly Cutrone

When people think about a career in PR, they often focus on the red carpets, parties, fashion shows and celebrities and forget that there are hours upon hours of hard work that goes on behind the scenes to make everything appear effortless and glamourous. In PR you have to learn how to check your ego at the door and do whatever needs to be done, even if that means cleaning up the office kitchen and making juice for all of your interns, which is what Kelly says she did last night.

2. “Risks are amazing, but you have to be strategic,” – Aliza Licht

It’s exciting to take risks on a client project (when they work out), but you have to make sure that the situation that you’re in calls for that ‘risk,’ because every action has a consequence.  And you have to be prepared to accept responsibility should something go wrong.

3. “I’m a bounty hunter,” – Kelly Cutrone

Kelly Cutrone has been in the PR game for over 20 years and has owned her own firm for much of that time. She talked about being a bounty hunter when referencing how her indie agency is different from in-house PR work in the sense that she has to constantly go out and hunt for clients and bring them back.

But, you don’t have to be an entrepreneur to apply the bounty hunter concept to your own life. You can bounty hunt for creative opportunities, you can bounty hunt for projects with more responsibility at your current employer. The possibilities are endless.

4. “Know what’s going on in the industry where you want to work,” – Cannon Hodge

This is crucial, crucial, crucial! So many people follow each of these ladies on twitter and only get to see a highlight reel of what their full job responsibilities are. And they approach them with questions about how they can get a job working with or for them but they haven’t done any additional research beyond scrolling down a twitter page.

If you want to work in ANY industry, you need to do your due diligence. Know where the game is (h/t Kelly Cutrone), know who the key players are, know the basic skill set required for several different job levels, etc. In other words, don’t approach any situation blind. Do your research.

5. “You can’t just send over your resume and hope for the best,” – Aliza Licht

I wrote about this in my Sakita Method post, but the resume is dead! You need to do your research on the field you want to work in and develop a personal brand and/or skill set that puts you in a position to add value to your desired company. You also need to build meaningful relationships before you need them so that when you are looking for a new job opportunity people will want to actually help you.

6. “You can manifest your dream, but you have to first get real about what the dream is,” – Kelly Cutrone

If you want to be an olympic athlete, you have to train. If you want to be a brain surgeon you need to go to medical school. And if you want to work in the PR industry, you need to do your research and get some experience working in the industry, probably doing things that are beneath your ego in order for you to succeed.

7. “Fashion PR isn’t just about pretty pictures,” – Aliza Licht

Aliza said this when discussing the need to justify everything that you do for your clients (ie. quantitative analysis and measurement). You need to learn how to balance the budget and do other administrative tasks that may not even be on your radar.

8. “It’s normal to not like your job, and sometimes your job won’t like you,” – Kelly Cutrone

Last year, PR was listed as the seventh most stressful job in America. And burnout in this industry is very real. Which is why you need to guard your energy and make sure you’re doing things outside of work that make you happy or help you decompress.

9. “Go and get a bartending job…communication skills are key,” – Kelly Cutrone

I waited tables in high school and in college and it was probably one of my most important experiences because it taught me how to deal with a wide range of people and personalities and crises. I think working in the hospitality industry should be a prerequisite for getting a job in PR.

10. “Everyone is a brand,” – Aliza Licht

Whether you want to leverage  your power or not is up to you, but you can’t dismiss the fact that we currently live and work in a connection economy that allows you to create an almost unlimited amount of opportunity for yourself. This also means that you have to guard your online reputation just as much as you guard your reputation in “real life.” Using an alias online isn’t really enough anymore. You need to be mindful of what you say- and what you do because you never know who is watching.

Which reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: “You have no control over how you are perceived, but you have 100 percent control over how you’re presented.” So act accordingly.

Click here to catch a replay of this fashion PR chat.

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