Posted on December 7, 2015, at 6:45 p.m.
by Tatum Roessler.
While some dream of sitting front-row at Mercedes Benz or Paris Fashion Week, others dream of working behind the runway with a career in fashion publicity.
In recent years, fashion moved from the pages of Vogue and Elle to social media, dominating our Snapchat stories and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds during fashion week and red carpet events. However, fashion PR is more than the glitz and glamour we see behind Instagram filters — it’s one of the most competitive, challenging and thrilling careers in the public relations industry.
Similar to an agency setting, in fashion PR, you have more than one account and can deal with multiple clients, events, press releases and social media on the job. The skills required for the job are similar to consumer PR as well.
“Skills in writing and critical thinking are highly valuable. Persuasion, rhetoric, speech and debate are also useful. Business classes that focus on branding, marketing and promotion are great,” Crosby Noricks, founder of PRCouture.com, said.
Unlike the agency world where you may have a few big events here and there throughout the year, write press releases or manage social media, much of fashion PR is all-encompassing. You are not constrained to any one particular job function or aspect of PR, especially at a boutique agency, which many fashion labels seek out to do their promotion.
“I work at a boutique agency. So we only have 10 employees, which is pretty common for fashion PR. It’s a lot more work than a typical corporate agency setting, but it has opened so many more opportunities for me. I have a lot more responsibility than most people in my position at larger companies, and my bosses expect me to always be thinking of new creative ways to pitch our brands,” said Elizabeth Emery, assistant account coordinator at Entertainment Fusion in New York City.
Additionally, it requires one to make sacrifices and to have determination to reach the reward despite challenges and difficulties, especially at the start of your career.
“I lived in a one-bedroom apartment and shared a bed with my roommate in order to live in NYC and take advantage of all the opportunities I could. This industry also requires patience. I was thrilled to just be in the mere presence of the stylists, photographers and editors. Getting their coffee was awesome to me. You are learning even if you don’t feel like you are,” Hayley Hill, founder and editor-in-chief of Access Magazine, said.
PR as an entity has faced many changes and growth in the past few years, but a challenge unique to the fashion industry is the importance of paid influencers and bloggers.
“In fashion, changes in editorial media and the emergence of paid influencer opportunities mean that budgets are shifting, and this paid model is challenging for brands with small budgets,” Noricks said.
While the challenges and nature of work can be daunting in the industry, at the end of the day the rewards one can reap from the hard work far outweigh the difficulties.
“My favorite part [of fashion PR] is creating ideas that move people to act. I was one of the founding editors of Teen People Magazine back in the day, and I came up with the idea of the Fashion Van,” Hill said.
Hill recalls her first New York Fashion Week as one the most memorable times as a PR practitioner in fashion.
However, breaking into the fashion industry is no stroll on the catwalk. As Hill alluded, sacrifice and due diligence are needed to climb the ranks or even transition into fashion PR.
“Be prepared to work hard. I hear so much about the younger generations and how to work with them. While I want to be accommodating, newbies need to realize that I had a long, hard climb up the ladder and no one cared about my personal happiness. Work hard; the reward will come. I remember and hire the people who help me no matter what the task. PR is a team effort as is a magazine,” Hill said.
Many of the skills required for success are often learned on the job, such as client management, pitches and presentation, Noricks said, but students can start preparing for a fashion career while still in college with programs offered through her site, PRCouture.com, and PR-related groups on campus.
“While a fashion PR internship is ideal, sometimes that isn’t possible. I then recommend an internship with a PR agency that does lifestyle or consumer PR. Groups like PRSSA and FGI can be useful if there is a strong on-campus presence. If internships aren’t a possibility, retail experience is good, as well as general office administrative work,” Noricks said.
PRCouture.com offers a unique six-week program, PRISM, which is a virtual course Noricks runs that teaches students interested in fashion PR valuable skills, along with an in-person workshop every year, Fashion PR Confidential. More information is available on PRCouture.com.
Finding one’s talents and fine-tuning them are important steps in preparing for a career in fashion PR, and can help one stand out in the sea of applicants.
“I think everyone has one talent or interest that makes them different. Find that talent [or] interest and use it to your advantage,” Emery said.