Articles - Climbing the fashion PR career ladder
Kelly Meade is the PR Manager at UK fashion retailer Phase Eight. She’s got a BA Hons from Loughborough University where she studied English.
What did you do after graduating?
After graduating in 2008, I went on to gain work experience at OK Magazine, Fabulous Magazine and New Look Retailers. A year later I then got a job as Junior Press officer at HJH PR. After that I joined Chase PR and Fearnhurst respectively and in 2013 I landed my dream job as PR Manager at Phase Eight.
How did you get your dream job?
I’ve had a long and exciting journey from Loughborough University to the PR position I am in today. Being able to get the job I have now comes down to valuable job experience and persistence.
How do you use your degree in your current job?
I’ve always had an interest in fashion, but when choosing a degree, I wasn’t sure about what I wanted to ‘do’ as a career and felt quite anxious about picking a subject that might restrict any opportunities in the future. However, I later realised that this had actually been an advantage.
A degree equips you with important skills that will be useful in the future: better communication, time management, having to think for yourself and create your own ideas and opinions that are inspiring and fresh.
For PR and marketing, communication and creativity is absolutely essential, and work placements can teach you more practical ‘on the job’ skills than simply studying from books. I strongly believe that a combination of both will give you an advantage when applying for jobs.
The regular essay writing and strict deadlines were really beneficial, despite moaning at the time.
Time management is also important, as the role is so broad and busy. Working under the pressure of deadlines is a must. Communication off the page is also key– all the presentations and public speaking I did as part of my degree really gave me the confidence to contribute ideas at meetings and speak to press face to face.
Describe a typical working day as a PR manager at Phase Eight
On a typical day, I start by looking through the latest papers or magazines to check for coverage and potential opportunities. Sourcing great national and consumer coverage is my main responsibility at Phase Eight. I’ll then contact the press with our latest campaign or products and will send them samples and images to use. I’ll then also work closely with celebrity stylists to dress their clients for public appearances and red carpet events.
What advice would you have for others who want to get into this career?
I learnt so much in the last five years working in different environments, and with a diverse range of brands that I have never felt at disadvantage that I didn’t have a degree tailored specifically to my career path.
Whilst it does not always seem a fair way of getting your foot in the door, you must get as much work experience through internships as possible.
I am a great believer in the fact that is as much to do with who you know as what you know. Always try to stand out when interning so that your line manager places trust in you and remembers you once you’ve left.
I didn’t realise at the time but when I applied for my first junior press officer role, the MD of the company knew my manager at not one but two of my previous internships. I had two instant recommendations without realising it and was hired after one interview.
To get an advantage, you have to prove you are passionate, hardworking and enthusiastic – even when the tasks are less than glamorous or interesting. I personally always value those traits with interns that Phase Eight take on, having been there myself, and wouldn’t hesitate recommending someone for a permanent position if they showed potential.
To find out more about careers at Phase Eight please visit their website