This year, I wanted to shake up the Spotlights a bit and start to feature editors, writers, bloggers, and press in general, as they are the ones who work with publicists more than anyone else, day in day out. What better way to understand how PR works than to speak to those we are working with? So, with fingers crossed, I reached out to a few editors who I can now call friends, and am lucky enough to have gotten a few to agree to contribute.
This first interview with Eva Chen is a very big “get,” as she sets the bar incredibly high when it comes to editors in this industry. You may know Eva from her most recent job as the Beauty Director at Teen Vogue or as the social media maven she is with a super aspirational namesake fashion blog, or you may be one of her thousands of followers on Twitter or Instagram (@evachen212). Everyone who knows her loves her, and those who don’t know her want to. She is by far one of the most brilliant and stylish people I know, and a celeb in her own right, but she remains down to Earth, and loves giving back to her readers and followers the way that I do.
I feel very lucky to know Eva and to have had her on my side supporting this blog from the beginning (in addition to all the professional support she’s given me over the years.) It is an honor to have her Q&A for this first editor Spotlight, and I can’t think of anyone I would have wanted to participate more, so I hope you enjoy her very honest and insightful interview. Meet Eva Chen…
Name: Eva Chen
Position/Company: Writer, editor, blogger
Where did you go to school? Johns Hopkins University, BA. Columbia University, MA.
What was your major? Pre-med for the first three years, but ended up as an English major when I saw the light. And when I say “saw the light”, I mean realized where my heart truly was.
Did you intern in college? (Where/what were responsibilities//what did you learn)? Harper’s Bazaar, summer between my junior and senior year. I applied on a lark to that internship—and about fifteen others—HB was the only one that paid (at the time!), so I took that one. I’m so glad I did. What I learned, I could’ve paid for that knowledge!
First editorial job? Lucky magazine in the fashion closet. I worked on credits and returns. Not glamorous, but I learned a lot just by listening and observing.
Favorite part of your job? Today, I get to write for a multitude of publications from Vogue to Wall Street Journal. I love channeling different voices and points of view. I also have a blog, which is a wholly different sort of writing.
Least favorite part of your job? Finding the time to stay up to date on social media, which I think is an important part of any media job these days.
Favorite beauty/fashion brands? Beauty: Nars, Ren, Deborah Lippmann, KohGenDo. Fashion: Marc Jacobs, Miu Miu, Balenciaga.
Biggest accomplishment so far in your career? Hopefully it’s still coming! I’ve had a great deal of wonderful luck to date, I’ve been so lucky to work at so many amazing places, from ELLE to Lucky to Teen Vogue.
Biggest lesson learned to date in your career? Listen. Wait. Be patient.
Who were/are your mentors? What did they teach you? I haven’t had true mentors, but have been lucky enough to work under bosses (many, many of them), each of whom I’ve learned so much from.
Best work advice? Do your homework, plan, and be patient.
How is your job as a long-lead print editor different from the work you do in social media? I think in two different ways—how do I want to tell the story now, versus how will I want to tell the story for people reading it in three months from now? It’s a strategic puzzle!
You are a pioneer in the social media space. What drew you to those platforms and how did you have the insight to know that they would play such an important role in how we communicate, and how brands position themselves? I just wanted another way to communicate with my audience. I can’t believe my following is 1.6 million and counting—it’s shocking to me, but ultimately an eye-opener. Social media is just a new form of entertainment, up there with magazines, movies, TV, etc!
You have worked with a lot of publicists over the years. What are publicists doing right? What are they doing wrong? Building relationships are key. Don’t let your intern call or pitch very senior people.
How do you like to be contacted with a pitch? E-mail always wins! Phone calls are super inefficient, in my point of view.
What do you believe makes the most effective pitch? Tailoring it to the publication you’re pitching.
As an editor, you can’t live without your… phone.
As a blogger, you can’t live without your… phone times a million!
In order to succeed in this industry, you… should learn digital, as best you can, and be nimble.
If you weren’t an editor or blogger, you’d be… sad.
Anything else you think aspiring editors should know? The hype that surrounds fashion/media is just that—hype. Do your research and realize that, like anything worth doing, it takes time to build a career.
What website/Twitter handle/Facebook/Pinterest page, etc would you like to promote? In other words, how can my readers follow you or your company/brand? evachen212.tumblr.com