Just like all fashion bloggers must have a knack for depicting tablescapes of peonies and macarons, Junior Fashion PR account executives must embody a few inherent qualities to really succeed at the game. They gotta have that "spark."
Job requirements are fairly loose and depend on the agency. A communications degree is desirable and quite often compulsory. However, someone with a good connection and a lot of tenacity could find a way into an agency without a degree. The most important aspect to starting out is your ability to cultivate the attributes required for success in the field.
You must be:
- Tenacious. And, I don’t mean just persistent, but you’ve got to be downright obstinate. If a client wants to be featured in Glamour or Women’s Wear Daily; an editor saying “no” can’t stop you. You find a creative way, or risk losing the client. And, at the same time, you need to be tactful, because you don’t want to burn a bridge at the publication either.
- Urgent. A sense of urgency! If your Account Director says they need line sheets sent to an editor, a report compiled for a meeting, or contact info for a new T.V. show, they mean NOW. Not after lunch, not tomorrow, not after you finish your daily duty of browsing the blogs for client placements; but immediately, and with a smile.
- Resourceful. Whether it’s finding a way to get an exotic petting zoo set-up at a trade show that doesn’t allow animals or getting that editor who has already said “no” to take a second look, you have to be your own version of MacGyver. PR is not a profession of no-men. It’s a place where you say, “Of course we can do that,” and then find a way to make magic happen.
- Flexible. Right in line with the sense of urgency, PR requires that you be a good juggler. You must have the ability to reprioritize on a moments notice. And, you have to inherently understand what should be bumped to the top of the list.
- Stylish. It’s Fashion PR, further explanation seems to be unnecessary. But, just in case: whether you’re working at 1WTC or an industrial warehouse space in Downtown L.A., it’s no place for PINK loungewear or anything that would pass for apparel during finals week in college. You have to be passionate about looking good, all the time.
Entering the world of fashion PR, you’ll most likely be hired on as a Junior Account Executive. This position is not always, but most likely, part time and seldom offers benefits. The pay is low. Like, pathetically low. Expect to hear a lot about the other perks of the job, such as free clothes, client dinners, and VIP access to events. However, even more likely, a Junior AE will be brought into a paid position through an internship. Yes, even to get a low-paying, part time position in this industry, it’s a good idea to work for free; at least for a couple of months.
It’s not the worst thing though. Like I’ve said before, agencies differ from one another. While they all have relatively the same end goal, the tactics and energy with how they get there, vary a lot. Internships are incredibly valuable, not only to get your foot in the door, but to make sure you’re at the right door. It’s a lot easier to step away from an internship after a couple of months than it is a job. The industry may seem big at first, but it’s not. You will see people again. At trade shows, events, and the like. So, even if an agency is totally not your cup of tea, and the boss is terrible, and you would rather eat you favorite boots than ever take a full-time position there; kindly thank them for the opportunity and hightail it to your next internship.