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Name:  Cheryl Kate Hohweiler

Age:  33

Position/Company:  Principal Publicist, Trinity Group PR, LLC

Describe your job in one sentence:  My job is pretty stressful at times but also very rewarding, perks are endless, you get to create daily and meet really interesting people.

Where did you go to college?  Rutgers University

What was your major?  Communications major and Sociology minor

First internship? What were your responsibilities? What did you learn?  I never had an internship. I started as an assistant in NYC but caught on pretty quickly and was promoted within six months.

First job in PR?  Tractenberg & Co. in NYC

Did you move to another city to pursue your career in PR?  Yes, I moved to Miami Beach in 2009. I was so OVER New York.

Favorite part of your job?  You’re always signing new clients and existing clients are always launching new products or new collections, planning different events… it never ends.  Every day is always different, which I love. I am a creative person by nature, so I love that I get to constantly create. It makes me feel accomplished.

Least favorite part of your job?  I guess my least favorite part would be when you secure an AMAZING placement and it gets cut at the last minute.  That’s the nature of the PR beast, nothing is ever guaranteed 100%.

Favorite brands (brands you think are launching great PR campaigns)? I really loved the Wren Clothing (based out of LA) “First Kiss” campaign.

Biggest accomplishment so far in your career? I would have to say my biggest accomplishment is going out on my own and creating Trinity Group PR-so scary but definitely worth it.

Biggest lesson learned to date in your career? I’m a realist by nature, and personally, I feel like the more honest you are with your clients, the more they respect you and the closer relationship you will have with them.  Blowing smoke up someone’s a** all the time will only lead to failure, never over-promise and under-deliver.

Who were/are your mentors? I don’t think I have anyone in particular, and I don’t want to play favorites in case they are reading this article! I think everyone I have worked for throughout my career taught me so much, from pitching and people skills to becoming a better writer. It all shaped who I am career-wise.

Best work advice?  Everything has a solution.  In PR, you have to think quickly and act fast. Panicking and stressing out only wastes time. 

As a publicist, you can’t live without your… phone, obviously.

In order to succeed in PR, you… need to have thick skin, exceptional time management skills and the ability to deal with all sorts of people.

If you weren’t a publicist, you’d be…a stylist or fashion writer

How can my readers follow you?

Twitter: @TrinityGroupPR

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Trinity-Group-PR/185134975014255?ref=hl

I am finishing my summer internship at my dream company. I want to write a thank you note to leave on a good note but its a small team and I work with all of them. Do I leave a note for every single person or don't even bother?

Asked by
Anonymous

Yes, write a thank you note to every person you worked with and include what they personally taught you or why you enjoyed working with them specifically. A personalized note goes a very long way, and if it is a small team, it should be pretty easy to accomplish. Even if it wasn’t, taking them time to write thank you notes to all team members will leave a lasting impression and is worth the time and hand cramps! Good luck!

I've told my parents I want to go into PR but they think I should be a doctor. I'm a junior and I've been thinking of PR and they threatened that they won't pay my tuition for college.

Asked by
Anonymous

Is there any part of you that wants to be a doctor? If not, I suggest you have a serious discussion with your parents because that is not a profession you can be forced into. I have friends in medical school and they have been in school for what seems like forever. However, they love it and are passionate about being doctors, so they don’t mind the many years of school, hours upon hours of studying, test taking after test taking, late nights and early mornings on call, 48 hour shifts, a non existent social life, and the list goes on. You need to love that job to be able to do that job well. It is incredibly rewarding and exciting and fascinating, but you have to want it. 

That said, they may have a personal reason why you becoming a doctor is important to them—and I’m sure you know the reason, or can guess. Are they doctors themselves? Do they believe that working in medicine is the only way you can make a good living? Do they fully understand what PR is and what a publicist does? Perhaps they need to be educated about the field to make them more comfortable? Have you shown them examples of successful publicists and how you can make a good living in this profession?

I am not one to meddle in family affairs, so this is a situation you have to personally navigate in a way only you know how to handle. What I will say is that if you all agree to disagree, there are scholarships you can apply for to schools with PR programs if you need financial support. Or maybe you meet in the middle and you entertain PR in the medical field. Hopefully, they come around and support you fully, but if not, only you know what the right course of action will be. This is a tough situation, so I wish you the best of luck, no matter which path you end up taking. 

Hello. I am very young and I am aspiring to break into the fashion world when I attend college next year. My mother has advised me make a fashion blog but I don't exactly know where to start or how to get the following. What classes do you recommend that I apply for when I attend college in the latter days? And how should I work toward having a successful fashion blog? I love your blog immensely and I appreciate any advice given. Thanks so much, K.

Asked by
Anonymous

I talk about which courses to take if you’re interested in PR as part of my FAQs: http://theprcloset.tumblr.com/FAQ

If you want specific fashion courses, you may need to attend a school with that offering such as FIT, The New School, SCAD, etc. Not all universities have fashion programs, so you’ll need to do your research.

Re: starting a blog, it’s a bit more complex than most might think. You need to be a good writer if you plan on including editorial content.  If you only plan on using pictures, you need to be creative and have an eye for photography and design to ensure that your images are interesting enough to make people want to follow your blog to see them. The blog needs to have a point of view and a consistent voice/theme, so you need to make sure you actually have something interesting to say. You should also check out various blog building templates to see which format is best for you. I prefer Tumblr (which is a great platform to gain followers more easily), but WordPress, Weebly, SquareSpace, Posterous and Blogger are great as well.

I suggest you start the blog not because you want a successful fashion blog ala Man Repeller, but because you love fashion and want to share that passion on a unique platform. It will be a good thing to have when you start to apply to colleges and later when you start to interview to showcase your skills and passion. If it does take off, that’s great. And speaking of taking off, you’ll need to do some PR to get the word out, so post on your other social media platforms (boost your post on Facebook for more exposure), follow other fashion bloggers, engage with the fashion community online and via twitter (retweet fashion influencers), etc and the community will start to build. 

Best of luck to you and have fun!

I'm about to start my sophomore year in college and am starting to think about interning. What are some good sites to look for internships?

Asked by
Anonymous

I love Intern Queen’s website. She posts great positions with solid companies. Mediabistro.com, YouTern.com, Internships.com, InternMatch.com, FindSpark.com and LinkedIn are also great sites to check out. I also like PR Couture and Fashionista.com for fashion internships and CEW.org for beauty industry positions. And I post jobs and internships from time to time in fashion and beauty as well

Good luck!

RMO WETHERLY IS LOOKING FOR BEAUTY PR INTERNS (NYC)

RMO Wetherly, a fully-integrated, results driven communications agency specializing in fashion, accessories, and beauty public relations, is seeking Summer and Fall 2014 Beauty interns to join the New York beauty team.   

Interns will gain exposure to all facets of the industry and get a unique opportunity work directly alongside the Beauty Director.  The internships will be a very hand-on experience and will allow the candidate to see how a division grows within an established agency.  Candidates must be ready to work in a fast paced environment and have a strong interest in beauty public relations.

Must be available a minimum of 2-3 days a week, preferably for a full day.

Responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Tracking press coverage
  • Media list maintenance
  • Market research
  • Facilitate & track sample send outs
  • Oversee product inventory and showroom maintenance
  • Assist with coordinating special events and mailings

Responsibilities may be supplemented with special projects and tasks that may come up. 

This position is unpaid although school credit is available.

All interested candidates please e-mail resumes and a short cover letter to quenna@rmo-wetherly.com.

AN AMAZING OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN THE INS AND OUTS OF BEAUTY PR FROM ONE OF THE BEST BEAUTY PUBLICISTS IN THE INDUSTRY!

Maser Communications (founded by PR maven Jaime Maser) is looking for an intern (15-20 hours per week) for this summer (ASAP). Here’s the scoop…

As a one-woman show with 14+ years PR experience in-house and at agency, Jaime is looking for someone hungry and ready to hustle.  She will be showing them the ropes of running a business and rocking the beauty PR world every step of the way, as she currently manages three full time beauty clients.

Resourcefulness, passion, autonomy, poise and eagerness are key. Tasks would run the gamut from the basics of maintaining media lists and compiling clip reports to helping staff shoots and pitching digital and print media. There’s flexibility in hours and location.  Hands on experience in the beauty PR world guaranteed.

Candidates can email Jaime directly at Jaime@maserpr.com.  Please include a cover letter and availability for this summer.

Good luck!

HOW TO PITCH FASHION BLOGGERS

An Interview with publicist Alyson Roy and fashion & beauty writer Kristin Booker, written by Alyson Roy

These days, a well-placed blog post can be just as valuable to your Fashion PR client as a print placement, and sometimes, even more effective, especially for brands with an e-commerce presence.  But as the blogger space evolves, so do the rules.   

I recently sat down with Kristin Booker, fashion and beauty writer (whose blog Fashion Style Beauty is a must-read) to discuss the new playing field.

Read on as Kristin gives us several nuggets of wisdom, including all the major do’s & don’ts of pitching a fashion or beauty blogger… 

AR: Is there a day and time you like to receive pitches, and how far in advance do you work on your editorials and posts?

KB:  I read pitch emails three times a day, usually: mid-morning (around 10 am), early afternoon (around 3-4) and once more at night around 6. Timing of when they’re sent doesn’t matter as much as what’s in them. I file them as I go through them three times a day.

AR: Do you have any ‘pet peeves’ in terms of dealing with publicists and the way they pitch you?

KB:  I’m glad you asked that question. Here’s what I’d love to impart to the lovely men and women of the PR industry:

  • Please never address me as “Dear Blogger”
  • Please, please get the spelling of my first name right. It shows attention to detail, which means a lot to me. Particularly since I also freelance for five major online media outlets, I need to know that you’ll have the same care and attention for my requests as I will have for yours.
  • Please have read the blog and have some idea of what I cover and don’t cover.
  • Please understand that posting Facebook contests and other social media pushes on my site doesn’t constitute as editorial content. I know that, you know that, so let’s not fool ourselves. If you’re asking me to push your promotion, that’s an ad, and I charge for those, like every other media publication would.
  • Please don’t request barter for things we both know should be paid opportunities. None of us can pay our bills in lipstick.
  • Please be careful when sending emails to large distribution lists. Any email where I can see the “To” list of addressees is instantly deleted, for my safety and for everyone else whose email address is now public.
  • Please do be clear and up front with pitches. Pleasantries are awesome, but what’s new, exciting and amazing about this product? Is this a sneak preview? Am I getting in on something before anyone else is? Let me know about that, because that’s exciting and it will get me to read your email.
  • Please leave Internet abbreviations and colloquial language out of your emails. “LOL” and “ROFLMAO” aren’t going to make us any closer than a professional pitch would.
  • If something is time sensitive, that’s awesome to know up front.
  • If you need me to send you a rate card or a media kit, absolutely happy to do that. Asking for rates and figures in multiple emails makes both of us messy.
  • If a sample needs to be returned, please make sure you state that from the beginning. I assume everything has to be returned unless it’s beauty, in which case it’s not safe or sanitary to do so.
  • If it does need to be returned, it would be awesome of you to address a UPS/FedEx slip for me to walk down the street and return it to you. Everyone who has done that has received the sample about a week after I’ve gotten and photographed it.

AR:  What is a guarantee a publicist will never hear back from you? What are the huge no-nos?

KB:  Addressing me as “Dear Blogger,” following up multiple times on a pitch or a product sample when I’ve explained there might be a delay, and any lack of respect toward what I do. I think respect goes both ways: I value my business relationships and the fact that we’re both trying to accomplish something, so as long as we both have that patient, professional tone, we’ll enjoy a long partnership.

AR: On the flip side, what makes a great pitch?

KB:  A professional tone, a breaking news angle, something that shows they know my audience and what I write about. Short, sweet, get to the point very quickly. Attach your facts as a PDF if you can; your pitch will be shorter and it will help me get more details if I need them without emailing you to death. None of us will die with an empty inbox but we can help each other not feel like every night we’re going to die under the weight of one.

Also, something that makes for a good pitch for me: visiuals.  Embedded images are awesome. Dropbox, Box or OneSpace links are great for big, beautiful hi-res images without crashing an inbox.

AR:  How can publicists do a better job of pitching or making your job easier? Is there anything we can do to earn brownie points?

KB:  Just follow the examples above and then get to know me as a person. Let’s grab some coffee, let’s take a walk, etc. The relationships that have grown with me as a writer and a blogger have invested a good deal of time with me, and it shows.

AR:  Can you sum up what you are looking for in a pitch? 

KB:

  • Good data
  • Facts that would captivate a reader
  • Products that solve a problem or create an opportunity
  • A knowledge of my site and what I write
  • A professional, respectful tone that’s engaging and friendly
  • Patience. I get about 200-350 emails a day, so please know that I’ll get back to you eventually. If I don’t, it’s not that I don’t love you; it’s just that the pitch didn’t make the cut.

AR:  Do you have any other final tips you’d like to impart with me and my fellow publicists?

KB:  Please, please, PLEASE don’t keep throwing free products at us as an enticement to build some kind of connection. Let me explain what that means.   I know that there are some people who are in this industry for the free stuff. I know it’s a fact, and I hate it. But let’s also be honest that the people who are in it for the free items aren’t really the quality page views you want on your product. So, the mention of product samples as “FREE PRODUCT SAMPLES” in bold type and huge letters in a pitch automatically makes me feel pretty cheap and that you think we’re all in it for the free stuff. Just speaking for me personally, I have a 60-day backlog of products I have to get written up and none of them were requested. That’s not bragging, that’s simply to say that in the editorial policy of my site, it says that if I’m writing about it, I’ve had experience with the product, which means a press sample was received or I went out and bought it. Please don’t reduce all of us to freebie-hungry product mongers. Some of us really want to work with you to create good editorial, not to be the one on the block with the most shampoo.

AR: Thanks so much for sharing these helpful tips with us.  There is a lot to learn, and I think your notes on how a blog is monetized and what is considered organic editorial versus a blatant promotion or ad is a really important piece for publicists to understand as blogs grow and change.

KB:  Happy to help build the bridge to understanding. :)

About Alyson Roy:

Alyson Roy is a Guest Contributing Editor for The PR Closet, and the Co-Founder of AMP3 Public Relations, a boutique publicity agency that specializes in Lifestyle & Fashion PR campaigns.

Follow her at @AlyAMP3 and www.AMP3pr.com.

About Kristin Booker:

Kristin Booker is a fashion and beauty writer (who has written for outlets like XOJane, xoVain, Refinery 29, MarieClaire.com, StyleCaster and ELLE.com) and full-time fashion & beauty writer on her own blog: Fashion Style Beauty.

Follow her at @fashionstbeauty.

How true is the fact that fashion PR is very cut-throat? I'm currently studying PR at Quinnipiac University and a senior PR major told me that you need to have a certain type of personality to handle the fashion PR industry... How bad is it?

Asked by
Anonymous

Fashion PR gets a bad rap, but it really all depends on where you work and who you work for. Overall, the fashion industry is very cut throat in that it is competitive and there are so many people who want to break into the industry. I do think you need thick skin to do well in fashion PR, and you cannot have too much of an ego because you will be asked to do things you don’t want to do in the beginning, like schlep garment bags of samples to and from magazines and shoots. However, none of that hard work should deter you from pursuing PR as a career. You don’t necessarily have to work in fashion PR, or you can work on various fashion accounts while also working on lifestyle, beauty, entertainment, etc at an agency that reps various clients that span different industries. I always say that you need to see for yourself—as in, get an internship and work in the position before you make a snap judgement solely based on what other people say. Remember that everyone has their own experiences, which may or may not be similar to what you will take away from it. And, quite frankly, there isn’t a job out there that I know of that doesn’t have it’s bad days… 

Best of luck to you!

What would you suggest to this PR chick about to work the CMT Music Award Shows? It's my first "working" awards show, and I want to dress appropriately but still look cute.

Asked by
Anonymous

Ask your boss if they have a dress code in mind. If not, I’d suggest a nice dress and heels—and nothing showing off too much skin. You can keep it professional while also being stylish. Have fun and good luck!

Hi! I met you a couple years ago in fashion camp (in New York) when you came to talk to us about your job as a PR specialist in Bobbi Brown. Honestly, your job sounded amazing, and to this day I'm still considering trying to get a career in PR. I was wondering if you have any tips on what classes to take in High School/ College in order to get a good internship, and later a job? Thank you!

Asked by
Anonymous

I answer this in my FAQs: http://theprcloset.tumblr.com/FAQ

KEEPING THE CLIENT (HAPPY): 7 TIPS FOR CLIENT RETENTION

By Alyson Roy

Let’s face it. Sometimes we encounter a difficult client with enlarged expectations of what is possible.  Perhaps they’ve been tainted by false promises from a previous PR agency.  Perhaps they are putting every thing (and every cent) they have into their brand, and just don’t know how to relax and let you do your job.  As their publicist, you need to be able to anticipate what your client wants and needs. Often times, your success is not solely measured by PR deliverables; half the value of PR is the strength of the client-publicist relationship. 

Here are a few tips to keep your clients happy:

Have ESPN.  Sorry, I couldn’t resist the “Mean Girls” reference there.  But seriously, you need to have ESP, so that you can answer their questions before they’re asked.  Following an important meeting or editorial desk side, immediately shoot your client an e-mail or text to let them know how it went. Use “Google Alerts” to track new coverage “as-it-happens” and be the first person to get your client a link to new press as soon as it hits.  If there is a correction that needs making, let them know you’re already on top of it.  In general, communicate often so that your client begins to understand that they are always top-of-mind and that you are constantly hustling on their behalf.  You don’t have to wait until the next formal report to outline your successes; share your wins as they happen, which brings me to my next point…

Recap Results Often.  If your client displays a need to be overly in the loop, consider increasing the frequency of your reporting.  If you normally report monthly, that might mean bi-weekly or weekly.  Although it might sound time consuming, it will save you time on incoming “check-up” calls to reassure them that the campaign is on the right track, and in the long-run, it will keep your client on board. In addition, be sure to quantify your value; don’t just assume that they know.

Be Solution-Oriented.  Clients love to be a part of the brainstorm, especially clients who are already creative by nature (like a designer for example).  Some clients will e-mail daily with new ideas, and although these ideas are not part of your well thought-out plan, it’s important to embrace them.  Check yourself: if you’re poo-pooing your clients’ ideas often, consider a new approach.  No one wants to get a list of reasons why an idea won’t work.  Instead, find a way to take the idea to the next level, and respond with an idea that WILL work.

Follow Through.  If a client mentions grandiose ideas or goals that aren’t the immediate focus, make note of them, mark them in your calendar, and when there’s time, follow-up on those ideas they may have long since forgotten.  If they liked the idea once, they’ll like it again, and they’ll be so impressed that you remembered. Maybe they mention an award they’d love to get nominated for next year.  Find the deadline for nominations now, mark it in your calendar, and follow through with the application when it’s time.  Letting them know that you never drop a ball and that you still want to achieve long-term goals will enhance their trust.  One compliment we hear consistently from our clients at AMP3 is a thank you for making sure certain ideas actually come to fruition.  Assuring your client you are someone who will get things done makes you the type of person they will want to keep on their team.

Be Flexible.  If something isn’t working—and maybe it was something that was your not-so-brilliant idea—be honest, and re-assess the situation quickly so that you can change direction and find something that will move the needle.  It’s good to measure what’s actually driving results and sales.  Plan to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.  Hey, it was a good idea, but we can’t win ‘em all!

Sleep On It.  If a heated scenario ever gives you the urge to reply based on emotion, don’t.  Walk away, take a deep breath, and if need be (and time allows), sleep on it until the next morning.  After all, there’s a chance you read the situation wrong, or that it will sort itself out.  If you respond to criticism in attack mode, it will get you nowhere.  Instead, find a way to combat the situation, and where possible, kill them with kindness.  We’re all on the same team, and everyone wants the campaign to be successful, so find a way to get yourself on the same page with your client before reacting in a way you might regret.

Put your money where your mouth is.  If previous false promises have tainted the client, make “reliability” one of the first words your client would use to describe you.   It should go without saying that in PR, you should ALWAYS under-promise and over-deliver.  It is impossible to guarantee results in PR, so focus on building a reputation as someone who delivers exactly what they say they will.  The entire goal for your client is to pass off the PR/Marketing responsibilities to you so that he or she can focus on other aspects of the business.  Never make them chase you or follow-up to see if something’s been handled. 

If you focus on client retention as much as your focus on PR results, this will add incredible value to the service you provide.

About Alyson Roy:

Alyson Roy is a Guest Contributing Editor for The PR Closet, and the Co-Founder of AMP3 Public Relations, a boutique publicity agency that specializes in Lifestyle & Fashion PR campaigns.  Follow Alyson at @AlyAMP3 or www.AMP3pr.com.

Name: Charissa Lauren (featured above on left)

Age: 24

Position/Company:  I’m a Publicist, Entrepreneur and Co-CEO of Pretty Living PR and Pretty Living Magazine, designed to connect, promote and publicize fashion, beauty and lifestyle companies. I’m also an active journalist, writer and editor.

Describe your job in one sentence: Creative, multi-faceted, fast-paced.

Where did you go to college? Point Park University

What was your major? Legal Studies and Political Science

First internship? What were your responsibilities? What did you learn? Though I’ve always worked in fashion, entertainment and held previous positions in event planning and writing on the side, my educational background is in law. Before creating my dream position in PR, I stuck with my education and first interned as a Paralegal in Trusts & Estates at a law firm in Pittsburgh. My responsibilities were drafting and editing wills, trusts and contracts, legal research and legal administrative work. I learned a ton! I am always grateful for my legal background because it truly assets my role as a PR professional and business owner every day. There are so many situations when negotiation is needed and I am also responsible for our firm’s legal documents. Through working in law, I’ve also become very detail-oriented and task focused and I’ve established a great understanding of client accounts and business development just from a few of the firms that I’ve worked at.

First job in PR? I discovered my direction in PR after becoming known in the industry as the girl to go to if you need to know someone. I was handling PR independently with companies when I was inspired with the idea of a firm to help business owners reach their goals in 2012. That’s when Pretty Living PR was born. Pittsburgh had nothing like this at the time, yet we had a booming industry on our hands and more and more entrepreneurs were venturing with new companies. Yet, we lacked direction in the next steps of publicity and brand awareness. We’re now working with companies in Pittsburgh, throughout the US and overseas.

Did you move to another city to pursue your career in PR? No, I decided Pittsburgh needed a PR firm dedicated to fashion, beauty, lifestyle and event companies and it was proven to be true. We did need this. I’ve never had any anticipation on living and working in New York or LA. I work with clients throughout the country regardless and I see true potential in companies not based in our prime US cities. It’s very important to me that all entrepreneurs and all brands, no matter their location, have the opportunity to advance their company with publicity and PR.

Favorite part of your job? I love the people I meet and work with. I’m constantly surrounded by amazingly driven individuals, risk-takers and dream-builders. Everyone I know is unique and I feel like my network is so well-rounded that it’s a privilege. I’m sincere about getting to know each person I work with whether featuring a company or entrepreneur or working directly with our clients. I’m passionate for those willing to take the leap and follow their dreams and am always honored to be working with entrepreneurs.

Least favorite part of your job? When I was first starting out, I become known very quickly and my lifestyle was extremely fast and demanding. I withheld a lot of responsibilities at a very young age. I eventually grew to rebel public attention of any means. I have trouble with events, photo shoots, speaking arrangements now and to think this used to be my everyday life! But I think it’s merely a ‘break’ and I know my role and position will always come with public attention so I’ll grow to adapt to the pressure again and keep peace in the chaos.

Favorite brands (brands you think are launching great PR campaigns)? Naturally, I love small businesses and am passionate about start-ups! There are so many amazing brands out there and I particularly favor the labels intertwining social good. I love EDUN, Helpsy, Fashion Gives Back and the Giving Keys. Cause Marketing is so important, it’s an interactive way to use your brand’s recognition towards an amazing cause.

Biggest accomplishment so far in your career? Probably starting the company, so far! I’ve always envisioned owning a company but I never thought it was really possible and I never knew how to go about it until one day I just decided that I’m just going to do it. And, though the entrepreneurial venture was exceedingly overwhelming, and still is from time to time, I know it will be worth it because I know what we’ve built has true value.

Biggest lesson learned to date in your career? In my profession, I’ve really learned the importance of breathing once in a while. I was very career-driven in my late teens and early twenties, if not my entire life. Everything I’ve ever done has been to benefit my resume and my passions. I worked several jobs at a time, worked for hours on end, doubled my schooling, maintained charity contributions and hardly slept. I insisted I could do everything and be everything to everyone until it really took a toll on me. I now know how vital it is to balance your tasks and not to overwhelm yourself because no matter how many goals you have, you have an entire life and you shouldn’t try to do it all at once. You can’t please everyone and come out alive.

Who were/are your mentors? My first and foremost mentor is the woman I want to become and I aim to be every day, if I can live up to her I will be complete. I’ve also been so fortunate to know so many truly amazing people. My Pap has always been a huge inspiration for my life for his adventurous actions, my mom for her absolute strength and the many entrepreneurs and women I work with on a daily basis.

Best work advice? My Pap’s last words to me were, “There’s a big world out there, find it and focus.” He always sought the most from life, he had an eager-to-learn way about him and he’s always embedded the same in me.

As a publicist, you can’t live without your… Above all of the applications and electronics I need and use every day, I would not be able live without my passion and my heart. You cannot succeed as a publicist unless you truly care about others. Their dreams matter to me.

In order to succeed in PR, you… Must be persistent, diligent, a quick learner, a people person, detail-oriented and exceedingly good at multi-tasking while staying focused.

If you weren’t a publicist, you’d be… a full-time journalist.

How can my readers follow you?

@CharissaLauren on Twitter, www.prettylivingpr.com

DIY PR: 5 TIPS FOR FASHION START UPS ON A SHOESTRING BUDGET

By Alyson Roy

Publicity is one of the most crucial elements in any startup’s success, but is also usually seen as a ‘luxury’ service that gets shelved until the business is generating enough profit to properly budget for it.   It’s the old chicken-before-the-egg quandary where financers want to see press coverage before they invest, and startups can’t afford PR until they secure funding.

If hiring a top PR firm is out of the question in the early stages, here are a few Do-It-Yourself PR techniques that any fashion designer or start-up fashion brand can begin implementing with limited resources:

1) Do your homework. You can’t achieve results until you clearly define what you want.  Before starting any PR activity, it’s crucial to identify your goals for publicity.   First, ask yourself whom you want to be targeting through press coverage.  Is it potential investors or is it to drive customers to your e-commerce site? Perhaps it’s a combination of the two.  Next, establish where the desired audience spends its time, for example: which blogs or media outlets are they reading?  Finally, what medium is going to be most effective for you and your brand, ie: magazines, style blogs or TV? Beyond just the medium, decide if you’re targeting a luxury or budget consumer? Then, you can make a properly curated media wish list.  Be optimistic and set your sights high, but if Vogue isn’t realistic, that’s ok.  Make sure the outlets you’re targeting are relevant, attainable and the most likely to generate sales.

2) Use social media to your advantage.  With your wish list in place, you should begin to follow these press outlets on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.  Ideally, you should zero in on specific writers, editors, bloggers, journalists or reporters who are most relevant to you.  It takes time to build a social media relationship, but by providing valuable interaction with your targets, they will start to notice you.  This means re-tweeting or sharing their content, answering their questions, or sharing helpful information.  It’s not all about you, so make sure your interaction is not self-serving.  If your target is silly, show them your silly side.  When the right time comes, ask if you can e-mail over a look book or some info about your brand.  It’s even better if you can refer to a specific column you’d like to be considered for.  Perhaps they write a monthly column on the ‘Top Designers to Watch,’ or ‘Looks for Less.’  If they do, be sure to reference the column word for word and be clear on your call to action.  Journalists are much more receptive to pitches when they know the pitcher understands their content.

3) If you see something, share something!  A big part of PR is tying your company or brand to seasonal trends.   To do this, you need to keep an eye on what’s going on in the news, or what’s trending on Twitter, and look for a way to incorporate your brand into that story.  For example, if Pharrell’s crazy hats are the hot topic of the week and you run an online hat store, considering running a “Pharrell Phlash Sale,” and offer your customers a limited time only deal.  Somewhere, there is probably a fashion writer talking about the Pharrell trend, and you could insert yourself accordingly.  The goal is to always be thinking with an editorial mind, so whenever you’re launching something new (be it a new website or a new collection), be sure to use this news as a PR opportunity.  Make it relevant and share it via social media, e-newsletter, your website’s newsroom, or as a reason for a press release.

4) Use a Newswire service.  You don’t need a PR agency to put something out on the newswire.  Whether you have a publicist or not, it’s always a good idea to write and issue press releases whenever you have anything newsworthy to share.  You can use free press release engines such as 24-7pressrelease.com, PR.com or NewswireToday.com. Truth be told, simply blasting out a press release will never lead to a flurry of organic editorial coverage, but what it will do is boost your legitimacy, and publish your press release on numerous credible media websites which you could share on the press section of your site.  It also provides great SEO (search engine optimization) juice, which will drive more traffic back to you.

5) Become a Talking Head.  Nobody knows your business better than you do.  Turn your passion into your credentials and become an “expert” in your field.  Find industry trade publications or blogs that cover your turf and reach out to them about contributing educational guest articles, or perhaps doing an interview Q&A about your experience.  This is a great way to build up your expert profile, while also linking back to your company’s website and potentially, putting yourself in front of a valuable customer or contact.   Aside from writing, you can also look into local events and offer yourself up to speak on relevant panels or to donate auction items to local charity efforts.  There are also free services like HARO (Help A Reporter Out), that send out emails 3x daily with a roundup of reporters who are looking for sources for various articles.  Almost every single time, there is a reporter seeking out “Small Business Owners.” All you have to do is reply via e-mail to pitch yourself, and it could lead to news coverage in online, print, radio or broadcast.  These are all ways to start putting yourself out there and to becoming a well-known name in your industry.

About Alyson Roy:

Alyson Roy is a Guest Contributing Editor for The PR Closet, and the Co-Founder of AMP3 Public Relations, a boutique publicity agency that specializes in Lifestyle & Fashion PR campaigns.  Follow Alyson at @AlyAMP3 and/or www.AMP3pr.com.

Name: Allyn Lewis (featured above on right)

Age: 23

Position/Company: Chief Executive Partner/Co-Owner of Pretty Living PR

Describe your job in one sentence: My business partner, Charissa, and I are the fairy godmothers of the fashion, beauty, lifestyle and event industries – you dream it, we make it happen!

Where did you go to college? The University of Pittsburgh

What was your major? Psychology

First internship? What were your responsibilities? What did you learn? I actually never had an internship in the PR field or otherwise. I began college as a Neuroscience major determined to go to med school, so most of my time in college was spent hitting the books.

First job in PR? And I never had a previous job in PR. I started out modeling in high school and just started to get more and more engaged in the other aspects of the shows and shoots I was involved in. I loved helping with coordinating projects and I was always promoting everything I was involved in on social media.

Did you move to another city to pursue your career in PR? Nope! I believe that with enough determination, you can create your own opportunities no matter where you are or what city you are in.

Favorite part of your job? I love that it’s different every single day. I never know what to expect when I wake up in the morning. It’s always exciting!

Least favorite part of your job? There are never enough hours in the day for me to get everything done I want accomplished!

Favorite brands (brands you think are launching great PR campaigns)? Aerie for American Eagle - the #aerieREAL campaign is brilliant.

Biggest accomplishment so far in your career? Securing our first client in the UK! It’s so exciting to be able to call our business International.

Biggest lesson learned to date in your career? No matter what you do, you can’t make everyone happy, so stand up for what you believe in and everything else will fall into place.

Who were/are your mentors? Aside from Olivia Pope, I am truly inspired and mentored by each and every one of the strong professional women constantly surrounding me. I learn and grow from everyone I work with, not just as a publicist, but also as a person in general.

Best work advice? BELIEVE – in yourself, your business, your employees, your work, your pitches, and your clients. You have to believe before other people will!

As a publicist, you can’t live without your… 1) My Sugar Paper Planner – this is where my entire life is organized and color coordinated. It’s how I keep myself on track! 2) My iPhone (of course)

In order to succeed in PR, you… need to trust your gut!

If you weren’t a publicist, you’d be… a doctor or a ballerina!

How can my readers follow you?

Personal website - www.allynlewis.com; twitter & instagram - @allyn_lewis