PRofile: Teddie of COLLECTIVE

Meet Teddie of COLLECTIVE. She grew up in a foreign service family, moving around every 3-4 years always adapting to meet new people, explore new places.  Teddie moved to NYC to study communications at NYU and has been in the city ever since. Having worked at many of the top agencies in the city, she started her own agency COLLECTIVE in 2012. She loved the nature of the work but not always the part about having a boss! Her and her partner, Nicole, worked together for a couple of years and decided to make the leap to start to get their own clients.. working on projects that they had a vested interest in and an ability to help friends on their new ventures…then COLLECTIVE was born!

Teddie Davies

How did you get started in public relations?

I started in fashion PR at Diesel right out of NYU…running the sample room and learning the ropes.  I always knew I wanted to be involved in shaping brand messaging, in helping brands with their public profiles to project the right image and gain the appropriate following to reach their goals.  Working in house is a great way to learn but I love to work on many things at once so having clients with different goals and in different markets makes the job more dynamic, challenging and ultimately fun and rewarding.

When and how did you decide to start your own firm?

I think I always knew I wanted to work for myself… my childhood of moving around sometimes made it difficult for me to stay in one place for too long — I tended to get antsy working for other people, not really controlling my schedule or choosing my clients.  Having Collective allows me to travel more and work at my own pace. My business partner and I were in a place where we both were ready to leave our jobs and we thought, why not go out on our own? We knew we worked well together and it just made sense.  We had one meeting while we were still working in different places where we told a potential client about our plans-  they said- we will hire you today if you resign and voila, we had our first client and we gave our 2 weeks notice.

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What is your average day like?

This is a hard one because I think there really is no average day in this business!  Usually starts with a lot of coffee and good music in the office.  We work a lot with hospitality clients so we are always visiting our clients hotels, restaurants and bars to see what’s new and to stay as involved with each as possible.  There’s always some pitching involved, some days more than others depending on what we are working on.  Lots of phone calls- often (trying) to be the voice of reason when emotions are running high and always reminding people to look at the full picture.  Usually ends with a dinner/ drinks date to entertain media, show off one of our clients or just to catch up with colleagues and friends.

What’s the best part of working in public relations? 

PR is really about working with people- knowing who your audience is and being able to adapt whether speaking to the media or to a client –  I love the exploration- getting to know a client and their goals and figuring out how to get them there.  It is also really satisfying to be able to help friends and colleagues with their ventures… I’m lucky to have some really creative and talented friends and I like to think of myself as the business voice in their head.  I love being involved in so many different industries and never having a dull moment.

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What’s the best PR advice you ever received?

Work smarter not harder.  I actually think that was advice that an 8th grade teacher gave me and it really applies to everything!  I hated the days when it felt like it was a competition as to who could stay at the office later and be the martyr.  No thanks.  I would rather be efficient and have a life too!

Any advice for those looking to get into PR?

Being a media/culture consumer is a good start-  you really have to enjoy reading/ watching/ googling and generally being curious.  Also, be nice to people!  I think people forget this one.  Some common sense and being a considerate, nice person gets you a lot further then people think.  I always say.. kill ‘em with kindness.

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Working Up

I’ve always thought that public relations was a career with opportunity. You are given so many choices in a day, with so many moving pieces, doors could be opening everywhere. Whether it’s a project with a client where you could make yourself shine, or a media pitch you can land in a great publication, there’s always a chance to up-sell yourself.

There’s also plenty of opportunity to make a name for yourself within your own company and become an invaluable asset to your team. If you’re thinking it’s about the time to start making moves and dreaming about a promotion and more responsibility, here are a few tips for “working up:”

Find assets right within your company: Most companies have title descriptions or a checklist of some kind to determine whether an employee is working at a level ready for promotion. My managers have always insisted I read my title description as well as the one higher than my own frequently. It’s good to know what you are to be measured against, and what kind of skills you need to succeed within your firm. If these aren’t available to you, book a coffee with a trusted peer or mentor who can explain the levels at your company.

Ask for help: I’ll admit there are certain tasks at my company I am still clueless at, especially when it comes to finances and keeping track of spending for clients. I’m not afraid to admit my naivety and look to my managers for help. How am I going to learn if I stay quiet? Even voicing your desire to learn a new skill will raise the flag that you’re ready to move to the next level, and your managers will keep their eyes open for you.

Remember you can move without making a huge jump: I’ve met many a PR girl and guy who switch from place to place almost once a year because they feel they get “stuck” or don’t have “opportunity” where they are. I think it’s different for everyone, but after being with my current firm for four years I can confidently say that it took years for me to feel solid in my job, and in a place where I can trust my managers and senior team members to take care of me if I feel I’m being neglected. It takes much more than a year or two to develop this kind of relationship with your company, but once you have it, it makes you want to work harder for your firm and see the rewards come your way. So if you’re feeling an itch for something new, ask about projects or how you can kick up your own work before you making the switch to a new place and starting over.

 

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Where Does Your Money Go?

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One of the best (and scariest) things I ever heard about living in New York was this – “You can’t walk out your front door without $40 leaving your pocket.” At first I laughed, then I cried, then I sighed in agreement. Living in New York (or any urban area) can be extremely expensive, and then add on trying to find entertainment and “live your life” as a young person enjoying the place you live, and you basically go for broke each month. At the end of last year I made myself an excel grid (helllooo type A!) to catalog exactly where my money was going, and boy, it was an eye opener. I got honest about what was really important to me to spend my money on and makes me happy (yes, that includes clothes), and decided to cut some of the fat. If you’re asking yourself “where the ?&*! did my money go?!” at the end of the month, the below might help you prioritize where your cash should go:

Rent – “House poor” is a common phrase used in NYC. It is something I have been before, and promised myself I would never do again. Make sure you can really afford your rent, even if that means living a few blocks away from your dream neighborhood or taking on a roommate. Rent should never be above 1/3 your income.

Food – I go back and forth on my priorities with food here, and I think honestly most girls would feel the same way. The truth is when you have a significant other, you spend much more money going out and ordering in food than you would when it’s just you. Sometimes I miss the “old days,” when I could just whip up quinoa and chicken and not have a man’s hunger to worry about, but then again I’m also experiencing much more of my neighborhood any city by going out. If you DO spend a lot of money going out during the week, try to cut back on the other food expenses you may have, mainly bringing lunch to work (left overs) and losing your sushi or Starbucks habit.

Fitness – Again, I’ve talked about this before on the site (exactly a year ago even!), but what you spend on fitness is really up to you. When I was in a teeny apartment with roommates, it was important to me to have an oasis to escape to, and it made sense to spend more on a gym with classes and beautiful showers. Now, I just need a treadmill for the winter and some weights, so my $10 Planet Fitness membership works fine for me. I do indulge in boutique classes now and then. My favorites right now are SoulCycle and Prana Yoga.

Clothes & Makeup – Don’t think you’re being vain here – truly admit to yourself if clothes and makeup are a priority to you. For me, I love styling clothes and playing with makeup. I always have – since I was a teenager and saved up my coffee house pay to go to the mall. To make room for my monthly shopping budget, I cut back on fitness, entertainment and travel. It’s all about balance!

Entertainment – This is another area I have cut WAY back on in the past year or so. While I love going to new places and seeing my town, I try to take advantage of fun/cheap things to do rather than extravagant nights out that end up costing hundreds of dollars. It also may be a sign of getting older, but apartment dinner parties or wine nights in are some of my favorite things to do, and I’m spending much less on alcohol and cabs – simply because I’d rather spend the money somewhere else!

Travel – I’m in a time in my life where the most travel I’m doing is a driving distance away, so I don’t save up much for travel. I’m lucky that my work sends me to some great places, so I do get to indulge in travel without paying for it myself. However, I do have several friends that love to travel and need to get out of the country at least twice a year. If that is your gig, be sure to cut back on clothes, entertainment, and going out so you can save. You can have it all, but not all at once!
Where do you think your money goes?

 

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From the Inbox: How Do I Find My Niche?

A & M,

Thank you for providing me with PR guidance and inspiration over the years. It is because of your blog that I took the PR route. I am forever grateful.

I try to take advantage of the many networking and professional development opportunities provided to me by my school and community. Detroit is thriving and I am proud to be a millennial in the Motor City.

With my last semester just around the corner, I understand it is important that I get the most experience whether that be internship or volunteer etc. What I am the most confused and flustered over is in which industry I want to work in. Do I want to work for one of the Big Three auto manufacturers? What about in an agency setting? Do I want to work with consumer brands? I have no clue!

Please help me find some ways to help me find my industry niche.

Thanks.

Finding Your Niche

Finding your niche isn’t always as easy as you think it would be. The good news is that you have plenty of time to find what interests you most so don’t get too flustered or worried. With your last semester, use it as an chance to take any opportunity you can. Whether it be in-house or at an agency. If you take an internship in-house at an automotive brand and don’t find yourself loving it, apply for agency positions after you graduate. Think about what interests you personally. Do you have a passion for automotive brands? Food brands? Maybe corporate PR interests you?

The major difference between working in-house versus an agency is the number of brands you will work on. Generally in-house, you’re focused on one brand. In an agency setting, you will likely work on multiple brands varying from tech to home to beauty depending on the agency. Follow your gut to begin with and use it as a test trial. After several months (sometimes it takes years), you will eventually find what you’re most passionate about and want to focus on.

Best of luck,
Xo A

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