What did you study and how did you end up with a job in beauty PR?
I studied Political Science with a minor in History in college. During my undergrad, I was definitely not one of those people who knew exactly what I wanted to be. At the time, I was not at all familiar with the role PR played in the beauty industry. That said, I was extremely passionate about beauty and skincare in general, and had started my skincare account @thequeenofskincare in my last semester of college.
One day, thanks to my IG account, I was sent gifted items from Poke PR, a New York City-based PR agency. Poke PR specializes in working with clean and founder-led beauty brands like Briogeo, HoliFrog and Summer Fridays. After a few email exchanges, I stayed in touch with them over Instagram DMs. A few weeks later, as I was set to travel to New York for an influencer event, I reached out to them and asked if I could drop by to visit their offices. We had such a great connection, and I felt confident in asking them if they needed any help or would consider taking an intern. This is what led to me starting my internship in January, where I started initially as an intern and eventually came on board as a PR assistant.
Is there a more traditional way of getting into the PR field?
Definitely! You can study Public Relations or Communications in college. You can also join organizations like Public Relations Student Society of America which would let you meet and network with others in this field.
Give us the beauty PR 101
PR is part of many brand’s marketing strategies. Beauty brands hire a PR company because of their connections, ability to network with media outlets, and their knowledge of obtaining press placements. We know how to get a brand’s product featured in magazines. When you see an article like “Top 10 Hair Products for Curly Hair”, those product features are often the result of a PR agency pitching this brand to the magazine’s editors. When a new product launches, publicists are responsible for sending information about the new launch to the press, and sending samples out to any interested editors. Other additional services offered by PR companies include securing speaking engagements for brand founders and helping to get founder profiles and interviews published in the press. We also help with event planning, such as product launch parties for example.
What do you do during your internship and what does a typical day look like for you as a PR Assistant?
My job as a PR Assistant is not that different from what I did during my internship. My typical responsibilities include searching online and in print magazines to see if our clients’ products were published about, creating a press clipping of these press hits to send to the brand’s team, fielding emails from editors who might be requesting samples or performing a “credit” check about a product before a story runs (meaning verifying key details such as price, availability, preferred retailer, etc.). Some days I might be working on a product launch so we will be gathering addresses to ship samples and creating Zoom event invite lists. Every day is different!
What has been the biggest challenge for you so far?
Working from home during COVID has been a big challenge. Two months into my career I had to completely change the way I work. Since this is my first experience in PR, I am learning everything from scratch, and my favorite way to learn is through collaborative work. Before COVID, our small team of three would sit at the same conference table and work super closely together. We are trying to maintain that collaborative environment by staying on facetime for hours at a time. We do our own work in parallel, but we are also very present for each other for questions.
What do you love most about your job?
My favorite thing is seeing a story I worked on end up in a publication. It’s so rewarding to send an email to a brand founder to tell them the good news!
What would you say are the top 3 qualities that a person should have to be successful in PR?
Strong communication skills are absolutely critical, as you need to communicate well to be successful within your own internal team, and to also connect and get your message across to editors.
Organization skills are a must. PR is all about making lists (building lists of editors, cross-referencing lists, updating lists etc) and staying organized and on top of your priorities.
Being proactive is what will set you up for success. I always try to have something done before someone even asks me to do it. Having that go-getter attitude is crucial in PR.
Tell me about the importance of networking in PR? How do you approach this and have you started to build out a network?
Networks take time to build. Whenever you get connected to someone new you need to save their email and stay in touch. I personally build my network a lot though IG. When I meet someone who is also in the beauty industry I add them on LinkedIn as well.
What advice would you give to someone looking to land an internship at a beauty PR company?
Start by doing research to understand who are the different players in the industry and which PR companies are based close to you. NYC and LA traditionally have been big beauty PR hubs. The next step is deciding whether to target smaller boutique firms or larger types of PR firms for personality fit. Smaller boutique firms with only a few employees require a lot more independence which helps build that “go-getter” attitude, while larger agencies provide more structure in their process. Then it’s the inevitable grind of building a network and connecting with people that work for these firms. I’ve personally had luck with building connections through Instagram DMs as it’s a more personal and direct way to connect with people and smaller companies.