I had the pleasure of working with Nicole when I worked at LVMH on Parfums Givenchy PR in 2009. We worked together briefly, but it was long enough for me to get to know Nicole as the PR pro that she is. As head of PR for the 175 year old classic French perfume house Guerlain, Nicole is the one responsible for all the press you see on the coveted Meteorites, Terracotta Bronzers and Le 2 Mascaras—among other things. She took a break from her busy day as PR Maven and new(ish) mom to share with you her insight on the industry and her experiences as a beauty publicist over the years. Meet Nicole…
Name: Nicole Blum
Position/Company: Director of Public Relations for Guerlain
Where did you go to school? University of Pennsylvania
What was your major? Communications / English minor
First internship (what were responsibilities)? My first internship was with the News & Specials department at MTV. We helped with shoots and did a lot of logging footage and running errands. I had another TV internship the following year and I think the shoot and editing room experience still helps me to this day in terms of thinking about how a story or segment comes together.
First job? My first job was with a PR firm called Bratskeir & Company. As an assistant account executive, I was put on many of the different consumer goods brands. I wrote my first press release about a photocopier and I’ve travelled the country with Miss Chiquita. Beauty products were already a big passion of mine (I would save Bliss Spa catalogues in college just to look through the products), so eventually I asked to be put on the Maybelline and Garnier accounts, and then I was hooked on Beauty PR.
Did you move to NY to pursue your career in PR? New York is always where I wanted to live, but when I started my job search I wasn’t 100% sure what kind of job I wanted. That’s a definite positive for this city – you have the opportunity to intern or temp in many different fields (even within PR) if you aren’t already sure what you want to pursue.
Favorite part of your job? I will still run to a magazine store when I know a new issue has come out to see the end result of a lot of hard work. I also love to hear stories about customers going to our Guerlain counters because of something they saw on TV or read about. It is so gratifying when you can see PR’s impact so clearly.
Least favorite part of your job? Leaving my son in the mornings.
Favorite brands (brands you think are launching great PR campaigns)? I love to see what all the liquor brands do and what kind of events they get involved in, especially Veuve Clicquot and Belvedere. Right now I’m fascinated with Everlane.com. I love their website and the t-shirts are incredible. I just read about their “not a shop pop up” where you pay more if you buy the products in the actual pop-up as opposed to online and I think that’s an amazing idea.
Biggest accomplishment so far in your career? Every product launch or brand program that really surpasses the original goals is the most rewarding experience. I try to learn equally from the successes and the ones that didn’t go as planned.
I was fortunate to be involved in the launch of Avon’s mark. brand and that was a unique experience that I treasure. It was incredible to watch the brand grow and to see how PR played such a big role in the growth.
Biggest lesson learned to date in your career? Get another set of eyes to proofread things for you! Then sometimes another set.
Who were/are your mentors? I worked for Liz Kaplow at her agency Kaplow Communications and I’m amazed by her energy, creativity and client management skills. She was always warm and supportive, and that creates a great atmosphere to work in.
My mom is one of the smartest women I know, and watching her work hard all my life definitely instilled a drive in me to succeed.
Best work advice? Don’t do it on your own. When you look to your colleagues to brainstorm and develop ideas, especially beyond PR, your efforts become more successful. PR has a hectic pace and sometimes it’s easier to work hard getting everything done with tunnel vision, but you may miss the insightful input and contributions from a team around you.
As a publicist, you can’t live without your… It was always my BlackBerry from the start to keep up with e-mails, and now it’s equally my iPhone for all of the social networking apps.
In order to succeed in PR, you… need to be creative, a good writer, very organized and ideally you should be truly passionate about what you are representing.
If you weren’t a publicist, you’d be… There was a time in college when I was positive I was going to an island to be a SCUBA dive master, so I guess that will always remain my “what if”…
Anything else you think aspiring publicists should know? It is an incredibly rewarding field that makes use of so many different skills and at the same time is constantly evolving. It forces you to learn more and adapt, and I think that’s what helps keep the job interesting.
Follow Nicole’s company Guerlain on Twitter at @GuerlainUS