The world of Public Relations (PR) could look very glamorous—attending trendy media events, socializing with celebs and checking out brand new products before they hit the shelves. But it’s not all fun and games. Many fail to realize that PR reps have to do a lot of writing, have exceptional organizational and communication skills and be a pro at multitasking.
To give you a behind-the-scene look at what PR reps do, we sat down with Daliah, Jessica and Kirsten from Lotus Leaf Communications Inc to chat their educational steps that helped them land their jobs, the perks and challenges of working in Public Relations, and advice for aspiring PR reps.
Jessica: I stumbled upon it by accident actually. I have a background in journalism, I went to University of Toronto for journalism, and then I interned at Wedding Bells and Fashion Magazine. When I was at Fashion my editor said that it’s a natural transition for journalists to go into PR because there are more jobs, there’s more money and it’s more stable. So I took a bunch of people out for coffee who work in PR just to see if that’s the industry that I want to get into and they told me that it combines everything that I like. It combines writing, creativity and media relations—so it’s kind of the other side of journalism. So I started applying for a bunch of internships for PR across the city. I started my internship with Lotus Leaf in April of 2014, and it ended in October. And then I was hired.
Daliah: Back in university I was involved a lot with volunteer and charity committees, and I just loved event planning. So I thought to myself, “What can I do after school that would involve event planning?” I didn’t want to do strictly event planning because I didn’t want to narrow down my options, so I did some research and learned about PR. I saw that it was exactly what I was doing in my roles in these committees, so I went for it. I researched different schools in Toronto to see where I can do a post-graduate degree and did that.
Kirsten: I knew I always wanted to be on the creative side, and I love building a brand story. PR allows me to get creative and strategic to work with media to tell that brand story.
Daliah: I knew I wanted to come back to Toronto so I looked at different colleges in Toronto that offered PR programs. I didn’t want to start from scratch because I still wanted to use my degree from Wilfred Laurier (a double major in English and Political Science), so I found a few schools. I narrowed it down to Centennial and Humber who had post-graduate diplomas. They were both great programs, but I felt like Centennial had the courses that I wanted to take.
Kirsten: I went to school for business and specialized in marketing. I knew I always wanted to be on the creative side and upon graduating I worked in digital marketing and social media. I’ve always had a passion for fashion and I thought if I want to give it a try then now is the time! So I made the change moving to FLARE Magazine and Tory Burch, and eventually landed here at Lotus Leaf where I’m able to combine my passions for fashion and getting creative.
A Breakdown of Their Jobs:
Jessica: I’m a Senior Account Coordinator, which basically means that I help out on all of the accounts. Kirsten and Dahlia are managers, so they take care of the face-to-face with clients and I take care of the account work. So I’ll do the KPI reports, media list building and research. I also work on the Lotus Leaf blog and our social media—Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I make sure that we have great content and that our interns are doing their work and have enough to do. So it’s sort of a jack of all trades. I also help with designs, so my feet are in a little bit of everything.
Daliah: I am an Account Manager, so I oversee the different accounts that we have. I work closely with everyone in the office with the day-to-day stuff, so I review a lot of press releases, or materials that are going out to clients or media. I work on media relations, so if we have an event going on I help to invite the media to the preview or public events. I also do a lot of event planning, so whenever we plan our events I take lead on that.
Kirsten: I’m an Account Executive at Lotus Leaf. Each day is never the same, which keeps things fun and interesting! My day involves media relations, social media community management, showroom product pulls with stylists and editors for editorial spreads and photo shoots, client calls, strategy planning and research. Sometimes we have events, so on those days I’ll be there to help with set up, host media on-site and then wrap it up.
Jessica: I love getting to know the media! Because I’m a journalist I love getting to know all of the editors. I have relationships with everyone and that’s a really cool perk. The events are great—it’s always exciting organizing and setting up events.
Daliah: Knowing what’s coming up! Knowing industry trends before other people do is pretty cool. I love keeping up with what’s up in coming in fashion, the food industry or socially—it’s kind of nice to see how it flows and reaches the public.
Kirsten: A perk of being a PR girl is samples and industry invites!
Jessica: It’s always changing. Working in fashion, PR and the digital world, everything changes so quickly. Once you think you have something figured out and a routine, it’s like “no, just kidding! It’s a new routine!” So the constant changing of the industry is the hardest part.
Daliah: You have to be a multi-tasker. It’s definitely difficult because you have to know how to prioritize and sometimes deadlines are the exact same time for multiple projects you’re working on, and you have to learn how to juggle whatever you have. It’s definitely hard because sometimes there aren’t enough hours in a day. Sometimes you have to work fast but still be detailed orientated so there’s definitely a lot of hard work, but it’s rewarding when it goes off without a hitch.
Kirsten: It can get stressful and sometimes things happen at the last minute. You have to make yourself available and be ready to jump in!
Advice for Future PR Reps:
Jessica: Be proactive. Don’t just sit and home and look for jobs. Take people out to coffee and let them know what you’re interested in PR and you want to know what they do. Let them get to know you and you can learn about them—anyone who works in PR just reach out to them.
Daliah: Test out different industries. If you have a passion for fashion or food, you should definitely go down that route, but don’t be afraid to open up and try different things. You don’t want to pigeonhole yourself, you want to be able to expand your education in different industries, so don’t be afraid to try new things.
Kirsten: I started as an intern, which was great experience to see if this was the career for me. So I recommend doing an internship, and my advice to future interns would be to be a sponge and ask questions. You’re going to learn A LOT. So the best thing you can do is absorb everything you have the chance to get exposed to and always ask questions if you’re unsure.
Like any other job, Public Relations has its pros and cons, but if it’s something you think you would love we highly suggest doing your research, taking other PR reps out for coffee to pick their brain and interning—making these connections and getting their advice will be invaluable. For more advice and a detailed look at what the Lotus Leaf team is up to check out their blog.