PRofile: @Bollare

Meet Alle Fister  - the Principal of Bollare Communications, a bi-coastal beauty, fashion and lifestyle public relations and communications firm.

After graduating from Pepperdine University with a dual-degree in Communications and Marketing, Fister began her career as the in-house publicist at Shopbop.com, a savvy women’s online retailer. Fister edited the site’s vast selection for fashion magazine editors and quickly gained a reputation for being on point with recognizing key trends.

Alle Fister

The site’s popularity grew exponentially and in 2006, Amazon.com purchased Shopbop.com. In the sale, Fister went on to found Bollare; taking her former employer as the first client. Over the past six years, Bollare has grown to a bi-coastal presence and worked with some of the best names in the fashion, beauty and lifestyle categories including Smythe, Erin Condren, Mink Pink, Vans, ghd, the BeachMint portfolio, BluePrintCleanse and Quiksilver.

Fister has made a splash in the industry being named one of LA Business Journal’s “30 Under 30” in 2010, contributing to the board of Step Up Women’s Network, and being profiled in various publications including The Wall Street Journal, Women’s Wear Daily and Chic-CEO. Fister has been called upon as an expert on style and trends, contributing content with publications such as Lucky, Glamour, Allure and US Weekly. To date, she has appeared in over 250 television segments with programs including Good Day LA, MTV, VH1, E! News and The Early Show.

When not working, Fister enjoys spending time with family, traveling and practicing yoga. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California with her husband, Don Popkes.

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1. How did you get started in public relations?

Interned, interned, interned, interned! While in college at Pepperdine, I interned within different types of fashion and lifestyle PR opportunities to best help me understand the different facets one could work in within the publicity realm.

Upon graduating college, I wrote a letter to Bob Lamey of Shopbop.com honing in on the skills I had learned from my college courses and internships, essentially pitching him on why I would be a good augment to the growing business! …cut to my moving from Malibu to Madison, WI to be on the early team of Shopbop.com!

At Shopbop, I handled our PR and spokesperson work, but as a growing business, had the opportunity to wear many hats. I always took careful measure to make sure I was systematic about my approach and showing that my efforts were directly benefitting the business.

As Shopbop was acquired by Amazon (almost 9 years ago), I leveraged my pitching skills once again…this time presenting the idea of starting my own consulting firm, Bollare, and my first client would be my former employer, Shopbop!

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2. What is your average day like?

The wonderful thing about publicity is that each day is dynamic and different – which I personally love! If I were to divide my efforts into different arenas it would look like this:

1. Spending time with my team. We’re now 60 team members between NYC and LA…and in the process of cementing roots in London as well!  We are so proud of the team we’ve built and one of my favorite things to do is to brainstorm with them on everything from client strategies to press day activations!

2. Meeting with current clients. We’ve built an incredible client roster of accessories, beauty, fashion, and lifestyle brands. I love hearing what our brands are launching next and being a part of the strategy to get the word out!

3. Meeting with potential clients. I have a passion for the entrepreneurial journey – so meeting with potential clients, and hearing their stories on how they built their businesses is a personal favorite!

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3. What’s your favorite part of working in public relations?

That each day is different and new! Some may find this tiresome, but I personally find it energizing!

4. What’s the best PR advice you ever received?

Be deliberate, from devising strategy, to message points, to how often and which way you communicate. Every point of interaction and every activity should be augmenting a direct goal!

5. Any advice for those looking to get into PR?

Be a sponge! I shudder when I see or hear young professionals not fully taking advantage of the learning experience. From listening astutely to volunteering for more opportunities – make your mark with your actions and seize every moment to learn and grow!

Follow Alle and Bollare on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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PRofile: @WeddingPR

Be Inspired PR 3Meet Leila Lewis. A graduate from Santa Clara University’s business school and a Delta Gamma alumna, she’s a wedding and lifestyle publicist who started her own firm in 2007, Be Inspired PR. Be Inspired PR is a Los Angeles-based boutique agency specializing in marketing and public relations in the luxury wedding and lifestyle industries. Basically clients who have products and services they want to market to brides hire Leila and her team. She has since also expanded to take on lifestyle, fashion and fitness brands.

How did you get started in public relations? 

I originally worked in publishing when I graduated from college and learned what is was like to work with publicists and be on the editorial side of media. When I transitioned into the event industry, I saw that there was a need for someone to represent  wedding and event  focused businesses. I loved wedding and event production but what I loved even more was getting the events featured on TV and in magazines. I landed a wedding television series for a colleague who turned into my first client. I knew my calling was inspiring others and helping them achieve their goals and dreams. With that the first every wedding public relations firm was born!

What is your average day like?

Crushing emails, following up with media all.day.long, social media strategy, staff meetings, consulting meetings, mixed in with a coffee break, a quick lunch on the go and if I’m lucky- a happy hour :)

What’s the best PR advice you ever received?

Treat others how you want to be treated! When you email someone and are warm it may inspire them to be kind right back and if not, brush it off and be better than them.

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Any advice for those looking to get into PR?

You are getting into an industry that is behind the scenes. A pat on the back from your client  or public recognition for your hard work may not happen as often as you’d like.  Be prepared to define your own success and be fulfilled by what makes you happy- no one else is going to do it for you in public relations industry!

Any advice for those looking to open their own PR firm?

The truth is…. It’s not super glamorous to have your own company. There are no real vacation days, you now have a greater tax liability, if you have employees there is so much responsibility to book more business so you can continue to afford them. Remember that its 24/7. When you work for a firm you are able to have to shut it off when you leave work and when you own your PR firm,  you don’t.

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What’s your favorite part of working in public relations?

Landing dream opportunities for clients. I am also a manager for some of my clients and handle their brand deals – being able to bring financial opportunities from companies they love and admire is so rewarding and exciting. 

Favorite part of owning your own firm?

I love being able to hand pick who I work with, it’s a blessing to have staff that I like to work with daily, and getting to decorate my own office space the way I like.

Find Leila on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest.

p.s. check out her awesome Gold Glitter party on the GlitterGuide.com. Um can we come to the next one?

 

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PRofile: @RobbinWatson

RobbinWatsonMeet Robbin, a graduate from the College of Charleston with a Communications degree, with a concentration on broadcast journalism. A friend of mine and PR girl that started her career in the Big Apple, Robbin landed her first job as a junior publicist for several daytime television hosts at NBC Universal and CBS. Her days were spent developing media plans, drafting pitch letters and press releases, while planning her biggest career event so far: a one-hour live episode taping in the middle of New York City’s Times Square, jumbotrons included.

Making her way to the West Coast, Robbin began working as the publicist for Sleeping Giant Music (SGM), one of Southern California’s premiere music agencies. During her time at SGM, she developed the company’s PR department, successfully building the local media presence of both the company and their artist roster.

Robbin currently serves as a Media Relations Manager at Alternative Strategies in San Diego, CA. She works with clients in the restaurant/bar, beauty and pet industry.

How did you get started in public relations?

Originally I thought I’d end up on the media side of the industry. In college, I interned at two news stations, created a demo reel and had been hired for freelance assignment desk editor jobs in the Charleston, SC market. While on the job hunt, I came across a Junior Publicist opening for four national TV talk show hosts. I figured why not? To be honest, I had no PR experience, except for my college courses and experience in the newsroom. After weeks of follow up (follow up is my second calling), I was offered the position and began my (hopefully long) career in public relations.

What is your average day like?

My average day consists of normally starting off with a local TV segment. I work mainly with restaurants and chefs, therefore, while on set, I make sure our client knows their talking points and present themselves in the best way possible. Once my morning segments are over, I head back to the agency’s office to continue my day of pitching based off our pitch calendar, following up with previous pitches, scheduling media visits, sketching out future TV segments and client meetings.

What’s your favorite part of working in public relations? 

I feel like every publicist says this, but I truly love the fast pace and how different each day is. One day I could find myself waking up at 4am for a live TV segment with one of our chefs…the next day I could be in the office pitching our clients to national TV shows for audience giveaways.

What’s the best PR advice you ever received?

Always follow up. I can’t stress it enough. I got my first job from incessant follow up. Also, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. It’s easy to sit behind a computer all day, sending hundreds of pitch letters…but results come from following up with a phone call, re-selling your pitch and building relationships.

Any advice for those looking to get into PR?

Do your research and make yourself familiar with all local and national media outlets. It’s never smart go to into an interview and not know the local TV stations and newspapers, even if you’re only applying for an internship.

Make sure to follow Robbin on Twitter @robbbinwatson and Instagram @robbinwatson.

 

 

 

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PRofile: @AllisonPDuncan

allie duncanMeet Allie Duncan, a Chicago PR girl that’s had a dream career thus far – an internship at Vogue, Tory Burch and a current job at a national retailer – to say the least. Allie’s story is both insightful and inspiring. Take notes while reading Allie’s story and reach out to her on both Twitter and Instagram.

How did you get started in public relations?

When applying to college, I focused on schools that were known for their journalism departments. I had chosen the major in high school when, forced to think about my interests, realized how much I loved magazines, fashion, shopping and writing. It sounds like such a trivial way to decide my future now, but I definitely made the right decision for me! I spent my first semester of college at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications but was ultimately unhappy and transferred to the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism in the spring of 2010, where I spent the rest of my college career.

I applied for numerous internships during my freshman year and did not receive any offers, so I spent my first summer home from school editing my resume and applying for positions with small, local companies near my school and started as a marketing intern for Word Marketing in the fall. I immediately requested a letter of recommendation from them to add to my ‘portfolio,’ which they were gracious enough to provide, and then perfected a pitch letter about myself that I sent to nearly every contact at most of the major women’s fashion magazines in NYC that I could find. This was in October, and I couldn’t start interning until May/June!

I had a great response, and I think that can be attributed to applying early and to including a letter of recommendation with my resume. I was also fortunate enough to be able to travel to NYC from my hometown of Chicago over winter break to interview in-person, which really does make a difference so if you’re able to , I recommend it!

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In February, I accepted an internship in the fashion editorial department at VOGUE Magazine, where I spent the summer trafficking samples, creating lookbooks and mood boards, assisting on photo shoots, working on the CFDA presentations, etc. I spent three days a week at VOGUE and the other two at a small fashion PR firm, Michele Marie PR, which I chose to do so I could further develop my interests in the industry for an internship the next summer. It’s really important to always be thinking about where you want to be and how you’re going to get there, even though it seems far off!

I asked for letters of recommendation from each of my employers – don’t be embarrassed or nervous to do so! – and created an admittedly large PDF file including them and my resume, along with some samples of my work, if applicable. I knew I wanted to spend my last ‘intern summer’ doing in-house PR for a designer since it was the one area of fashion that I was interested in but hadn’t yet worked. I spent the 2012 summer as a public relations intern at Tory Burch and couldn’t have loved it more! I was able to pull looks for editorial, assist on editor press previews, compile press reports and editorial calendars, and more. The internship really solidified that I wanted to work in public relations, rather than on the editorial side of fashion.

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I’d always thought I’d end up in NYC but eventually decided I wanted to move back home to Chicago. I was diligent about finding the ‘New York fashion job’ in my city but wasn’t able so I accepted an internship in April to have a back-up plan for post-graduation while I continued to look for full-time opportunities. I had been freelancing for a small public relations agency, YL Communications, when the founder mentioned she was getting ready to hire a full-time account executive. I became her first hire!

I accepted the job with YL Communications, although it was a risk to work in a small start-up environment, because I really wanted to be in a place where I could hit the ground running – working on real projects, contributing to the bottom line, and making professional contacts. We had approximately eight clients in the food, hospitality and beauty industries, and I was involved in most aspects of their public relations initiatives, including media relations, celebrity outreach, event planning and production, etc.

It was a great experience, but I continued to keep my eyes and ears open for ‘fashion jobs.’ I had actually reached out to my current employer (a nationwide retailer) months earlier, at which time they politely informed me that they weren’t hiring but would keep my resume on file. A few weeks after turning down the project manager position, I received an email from my current employer that they’d had a recent opening for an assistant PR manager and after a long application process, I was offered the job – my dream position! Again, waiting for the right fit and not settling made the difference in my current happiness in my career.

What is your average day like?

In every interview I’ve ever read with a public relations professional, he/she says that there is no typical day for them. While that’s somewhat true, there are some things that are generally pretty standard in my days, like reaching out to potential partners for upcoming events, pulling clothing for editorial requests, monitoring media impressions and archiving press, etc.

What’s your favorite part of working in public relations? 

What makes public relations so fun and exciting are the days that are different! Whether it’s working on a major event with a local blogger or celebrity or meeting with our extended team to discuss upcoming trends or developing creative campaigns to pitch to the media, it’s hard to be bored and easy to be inspired. That’s especially true when you work with great people and for a fun company like I do!

What’s the best PR advice you ever received?

The best PR advice I’ve ever received relates to the job search, and it’s to always evaluate the company you’re interviewing with as much as they’re evaluating you. There’s nothing more important than finding the right fit, and it’s worth it to wait if you’re not excited about the offers you’re receiving. That’s not to say you shouldn’t work at all – do some freelance work, start a blog, whatever sparks your interest – but think about the things that are important to you in a company. Do you want lots of coworkers so you can meet new people? Do you want a small agency with plenty of creative flexibility, or a large company with more established practices? Is a flexible schedule important to you, or do you care more about your title? Whatever it is, it matters!

Any advice for those looking to get into PR?

While back at school, I was a national contributing writer to Her Campus magazine and also served as the publicity director for the campus branch, Her Campus Mizzou. I definitely recommend writing as much as possible if you’re looking for a career in public relations. Most employers will ask for writing samples, and I was so relieved to have some on hand from my days writing for Her Campus.

Also, although untraditional, I’ve only written a cover letter once or twice in the hundreds of applications I’ve sent out in my lifetime, and I rarely apply through online forms. Find a contact – it doesn’t matter who. Anyone in the company, if intrigued by your email and resume, can refer you to the right person. Reach out to anyone and everyone, and let the body of your email be your ‘cover letter.’ In PR especially, it’s important to be tenacious and know when no isn’t an acceptable answer. If it’s really important to you, find a way in, whether it’s pushing for a five-minute phone call, asking to take them to coffee, sending ideas you have for a client they have on their roster, etc.

Be sure to connect with Allie on Twitter and Instagram.

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