This past summer, I spent my days with leather samples, die-cuts and handbags. I had the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in fashion PR while working with Brynn Capella, a Chicago-based handbag designer who sells products online and through various boutiques. As the only intern in the public relations department, I quickly learned the ins-and-outs of the jobs and tasks related to the field.
A large part of my job as an intern revolved around handling social media and product promotion. Brynn is an independent designer who produces all of her products in the United States to ensure high quality and customer service. Another important part of my duties were to get the brand more involved in philanthropic groups around Chicago. We were able to partner with a local animal rights group, PAWS, for black tie events on Lake Michigan.
Working with Brynn, I was also able to learn about the fashion business, aside from the PR side, as well. I was able to gain first hand experience for what goes into preparing and executing a fall photo shoot as well as understanding HTML coding. When coding with HTML, I helped reformat the company’s blog and website, outfitting it with modern updates. These were both areas that I had no experience with prior to starting the internship, but with Brynn’s help I was able to quickly learn how to effectively plan for a photo shoot and learn the language of HTML.
Another large part of my summer experience was focused in working on upcoming events. It was extremely important to promote events and trunk shows to let customers know where they could purchase Brynn Capella handbags around the Chicagoland area. The largest event we participated in was Chicago’s Annual Sidewalk Sale, which featured various local designers who came together to share their designs with the city. During the event, a fashion show was also presented to showcase featured designers. Prior to the event, we made sure to promote the Sidewalk Sale to our friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter. Even during the event we tweeted and shared photos on Instagram, which helped remind our customers to stop by.
By the end of the summer, I had learned so much about the fashion industry as well as the challenges that an individual business owner faces each day. Expanding beyond PR, I also gained experience with marketing, sales and design. Overall, the internship encompassed a variety of fields that helped me to get a better grasp of the industry as well as my role in the brand. The skills I learned were invaluable and have even helped me succeed in my current internship.
Feel free to tweet me at @jenprobst23 if you have any questions about the challenges or experiences with fashion PR.
The field of public relations, at times, places heavy emphasis on brand identity. In such a field, It is critically important to create your own unique brand, but is your style helping or hurting its image? As children, we are raised not to judge a book by its cover but when it comes to a brand’s image, personal style becomes your cover and, unfortunately, judgment ensues.
While you may be no fashionista, you should take some cues from celebrities to understand what your style might be saying about your own personal brand. Do you wear revealing clothing or overly large earrings? How about ankle socks? You’re probably not suited to be working in the corner office at the corporate head headquarters of an established company.
Fashion statements such as heavy eyeshadow, body glitter and ripped leggings may catch the eyes of passersby on the street, but not the eyes of those who you hope will employ you in the very near future. Similarly, attire that fits poorly, clothing that is ripped, unkempt hair, and unprofessional footwear are all red flags to employers that you may not take yourself seriously. If you can’t take yourself seriously, how will you perform in the workplace?
Olivia Palermo, New York City socialite, combines style with professionalism suited to her field. Her clothes are all trendy and modern, allowing fashion to combine with class and seriousness. Granted, she is expected to showcase latest fashion trends. There are still professional situations in which this outfit may not be considered appropriate and that is to be kept in mind.
Emma Stone looks like a confident professional, yet one who is not afraid to have some fun with her outfit. She pairs a classic high waisted pencil skirt perfectly with red closed-toe heels and a bright blue and brown striped top, making this outfit look playful yet professional. Who would have thought that the actress who portrayed a frazzled sorority sister so many years ago would move up in her career to fill roles in historically inspired films such as The Help? Displaying a sense of professionalism with her outfit choices certainly hasn’t hurt.
Casual yet Chic
As a final example, Reese Witherspoon looks casual, yet her dark washed jeans and layered sweaters makes this outfit look polished and chic. Paired with a simple necklace and understated booties, this outfit is perfect for a more relaxed and informal event where one might want to look fashionable while maintaining a sense of casualness. Remembering that there is a time and place for each and every kind of outfit is probably what is most important in selecting one for any occasion.
While your outfit doesn’t necessarily dictate your entire brand image, it can still leave a lasting impression and you want it to be a good one. When shopping for a professional outfit, look for classic silhouettes, clothes without busy patterns, a tailored fit and accurately sized accessories including belts, handbags and jewelry. When putting your outfit together, wear your hair and makeup clean and neat. Remember, you don’t have to be a fashionista, but dressing to impress is the goal. Show off your brand’s positive image with yours and you’ll be one step closer to success.
Whether you are a fan of award show season or not, one thing I’ve always loved about the Oscars is seeing the fabulous gowns and wardrobe selections of our favorite stars. Reporters, magazines, blogs, and fashion critics everywhere wait patiently to evaluate the worst and best dressed of the night, and sometimes it seems like the fashion critiques overpower who ACTUALLY won the awards. The day after the Oscars as you walk around campus, you’ll hear people talk about the mishaps: Jennifer Lawrence’s fall in her flawless dress, and Anne Hathaway’s undergarment malfunction; not the fact that Argo won film of the year.
Celebrities spend weeks and even months before award shows working with makeup artists, designers, and stylists to find the perfect look for the red carpet, and rightfully so. The way celebrities dress and carry themselves on a night like the Oscars is major personal public relations, and if gone wrong you might end up on the worst dressed list or with a bad twitter account named after your fashion mistakes.
If the way you dress yourself is a way of marketing your personal brand, then why have a team of experts and stylists do it for you? Are celebrities so afraid of fashion faux pas that they feel the need to call on professional stylists like Rachel Zoe to lay out outfit options weeks before an event? Well, Anne Hathaway is a perfect example of what happens when you don’t think long and hard about your Oscars appearance and pick a last minute dress because Amanda Seyfried is wearing the same style… you might end up getting attention for a brand that you did not intent on advertising.
Jennifer Lawrence on the other hand shows that in spite of embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions like tripping over the long train of your dress, if you stay true to your personal style and brand people will talk. They will talk about how fabulous you looked while tripping up the stairs to receive the Oscar. Jennifer’s press conference following the incident was light-hearted and honest, and instead of playing off the fall as intended PR, she joked around with reporters and most importantly was true to her brand.
While bloggers and social media experts gossip about how Anne Hathaway’s stylist should have forced her to wear adhesive petals, college students everywhere talk about how they have massive girl crushes on Jennifer Lawrence and want to be her best friend. Branding is important, and your outfit can make you or break you on the red carpet.
As I sit staring at my inbox waiting for an email to pop in, guaranteeing me a second interviewfor a summer position I am applying for, I can’t help but worry that I have been knocked out of the running…because of my outfit. As a prospective public relations practitioner, it is vital that I keep in mind the fact that I am not yet in the door, and until I am I must market myself as best I can. Before entering the world of PR and establishing a name for ourselves, we are all about as marketable as a pair of flats in a blizzard. During interviews, it is crucial to remember that the first thing a potential employer is going to notice—before you even open your mouth or extend your hand—is what you decide to wrap yourself in. That’s right, your outfit is one of your strongest public relations tools until you have landed an internship or a job.
The first thing to think about is what kind of job you are applying for and, if possible, who or what kind of person you will be interviewed by. The goal of a PR practitioner is to not only serve the organization they are working for, but to interact with relevant public through open two-way communication. Remember that you are advocating for yourself in an interview, and your potential employer is your relevant public. You are never guaranteed a second interview, so you really have no time to adjust what goes wrong with your first outfit fiasco. Do research before putting yourself in that situation. If you are interested in working for a certain organization, you should already know the basics of what they are all about, so keep those in mind when digging for more abstract elements that you may be able to weave into your outfit choice. If the company is a bit more on the conservative side, and the CEO is someone notoriously known for being a bit of an uptight hardliner, then it may be a good idea to overdress a bit. For females, a pantsuit or formal suit jacket and skirt with neutral heels would be best—probably a good idea to save your sequin-encrusted blazer and platform pumps for another time. For males, a basic suit-and-tie combo—staying away from flashy ties—is a safe bet.
Remember, the goal is to market yourself well enough to land the job, just like your job is, someday, going to be to paint a nice enough picture of your company, product, cause, side of an issue, etc. You don’t necessarily want your potential employer to remember what you wore twenty minutes after an interview. You want them to remember you and what you brought into the room. Your outfit should only leave a fleeting impression on the interviewer as to who you are both as a person and a PR practitioner. There is a time and place for cool and crazy brand-name outfits, and it is a time in which you have, hopefully, already made a cool and not-so-crazy name for yourself in the world of PR.
This is a post by Joseph Martelli, a sophomore in Com studying Public Relations. Follow him @JoeyMartelli
The fashion industry is often idealized as a glamorous world of runways and cocktail parties, attracting bounds of students and young professionals to fashion public relations. But before you’re enticed by its glitzy portrayal, Jennifer Brown, strategic communications consultant and fashion PR insider, offers first-hand experience that dispels the stereotypical lifestyle.
Brown encouraged us to think beyond “sexy” when it comes to the fashion world, and beyond New York City. If you fantasize about a career with Urban Outfitters, Victoria’s Secret, or Dilliard’s, you should be open to locating to their headquarters in Pennsylvania, Ohio, or Arkansas, respectively.
Crises still erupt in the industry, as Brown illustrated by the recent faux pas of Celebboutique.com. In the aftermath of the Aurora, Colorado movie theatre shooting, Celebboutique.com notoriously tweeted that the trending #Aurora hashtag must be due to their new Aurora dress. The mishap echoed around the online world, and demonstrated the need for savvy and informed fashion PR professionals to both manage social media, and to save the company’s image in not-so-glamorous times.
If your passion truly lies in fashion, it should outlive the need for bright lights and red carpets. In this case, dive right in by creating a relationship with the brand you aspire to represent.
Brown motivated us to become an expert in our chosen brand. Buy its products. Wear its products. Blog about its products. Her primary advice: work as a “shop girl/boy” in the store during your college years. We’re all looking to scrape together money, so why not do so in a way that offers you a new perspective on the fashion industry. The insight you gather will put you at a competitive advantage during the job hunt, and showcase your zeal for the fashion world.
Overall, don’t fall for stereotypes. Make sure you feel passionate for the true nature of an industry before you devote yourself to it, for passion ultimately inspires the best work.