Tag Archives: branding

My Life in PR: What retail taught me about public relations

Before working in PR, Andrea Kenski lived a rockstar lifestyle working in retail. Many of the PR principles used in her job today were learned working in retail management.

I’ve officially been working in the field of public relations for about three years. Prior to my “new” career, I worked in retail management for 15 years. The more I thought about my professional life, the more I realized how much of what I do now, I practiced every day in retail for 15 years working at places like the Gap, Target and Wherehouse Music.

Over the years, I learned a lot of public relations. But, I didn’t know it at the time. I attended numerous classes, seminars, and conferences on how to communicate effectively with my team and customers. I also learned how to develop and maintain relationships with those customers and vendors. Other PR principles that you wouldn’t normally associate with retail was also learned: branding, crisis communications, key messaging, and event planning were also performed on a regular basis.

When you walk into a store, what’s the first thing you notice? Is it a display, lighting or clean fitting rooms? Everything I just mentioned (and more) is branding; it’s how a business or organization is perceived by the public. I worked with my team to ensure that everything the company stood for was reflected in its appearance. It was everything from clean windows, to eye-catching displays, to properly placed signage in the correct font.

Working in retail, I encountered customers that sometimes didn’t understand store policies and procedures. It was my job as a manager to ensure I knew the policies backwards and forwards (key messages, if you will) and explain to them in language that they would understand. This would be my first introduction to crisis communications. Little did I know that one day, I would be the one drafting the key messages.

When I reflect on my time working retail, my fondest memories were working midnight sales at the music store. Die-hard fans would arrive at the store around 11:45 p.m. and wait until midnight so they could purchase their favorite artist’s new album. It was my job to coordinate the event. I would plan each event and coordinate details such as scheduling employees, choosing which older album to play (along with the new one, of course) and promoting the event. (I may be showing my age, but this was done in a time before social media and iTunes.) Midnight sales were always busy, but without careful planning, it could have been just me and my employees listening to the new *NSYNC album.

I miss working retail. However, I love where I am now. The work that I’m doing is not much different. I work in an office rather than a storefront. I have a much bigger audience to communicate with.  I absolutely love working in PR, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Have I changed the way you look at PR? Share your thoughts with me in your comments below.

Andrea Kenski is a senior account executive at Franco Public Relations Group. You can reach her at (313) 567-5092 or kenski@franco.com. You can also follow her on Twitter: @detroitcitygrrl.


What to wear on your first day in public relations

Second graders, college students, interns and CEOs all face a similar predicament on their first day. They all stand in front of their closets and wonder, “What should I wear?” Public Relations professionals recognize the importance of first impressions. The question of what to wear is the simplest form of branding. What we’re really asking is: what am I going to wear that will properly reflect my brand. Here are a few tips to ease the first-day jitters and have you looking your best on your first day in PR. And these tips apply for other “big days” whether it’s a big client event, a new business pitch, a critical performance review or some other important occasion where you want to look and feel your best.

Whether it’s the first day of school or the first day on the job, making a good impression starts with the perfect outfit.

The first day
Plan your outfit at least one day in advance. Mornings are already stressful enough as it is. When you know exactly what you’re going to wear and the outfit is all laid out ready to go, it shaves at least fifteen minutes off your morning.

Wear something classic and conservative on your first day. I suggest slacks, a nice blouse or sweater and a timeless piece of jewelry. It’s also helpful to think back to your interview with the company and recall what the person who interviewed you was wearing. Use that as a template for your outfit and add a flourish of something uniquely “you” to it.

Wear comfortable shoes. Chances are you’ll be walking quite a bit on your first day – touring the building, learning where to pick up the mail, where to grab lunch, etc. I suggest wearing flats or a kitten heel.

You nailed the first day, so now what?
The thing about the first day is that there’s a second day, and a third – you can’t keep wearing the same thing (unless you’re Steve Jobs, of course). Those transitioning into the work world have it the hardest. They don’t have a wardrobe filled with seamless work attire and shelling out the cash to buy it isn’t in exactly the cards.

My advice: start shopping the sale racks, now! Go for conservative, timeless pieces of the highest quality you can afford. These items can be pretty expensive, but when they go on sale, you can get some incredible deals.

The best advice I’ve ever received
Dress for the position you’re working towards, not the position you currently hold. My grandmother gave me this advice when I was young and it’s never left me. It’s a powerful reminder that it’s not just about looking the part; it’s about being the part and having the goods to back it up.

Cayce Karpinski is an assistant account executive at Franco Public Relations Group. You can reach her at (313) 567-5093 or karpinski@franco.com. Follow her on Twitter at @CayceK_.


Brad Pitt – the sweet smell of success

So Brad Pitt is the new Chanel No5 spokesmodel.

Is it a branding coup (or “coo,” for those who get a little wobbly kneed looking at him)? Hunky guys have shared the space with beautiful women selling various products, but, ah, a man alone with a bottle of Chanel No5. Now that’s sweet (with a hint of musk). Coco would be proud. 

Was it a strategic branding move? Time will tell if essence de Brad reinforces or enhances the brand. But, from an awareness strategy — BRILLLLLIANT! It’s big news (I’m kidding), but it is news. After all, it’s Brad Pitt.   

So, is he a good spokesmodel for the perfume?

According to various books on Coco Chanel, perfume scents traditionally were either “respectable” or “provocative,” the latter reserved for, well, women of the night, if you know what I mean. Coco wanted to create something modern, which reflected the liberated attitudes of her friends and fashion of the 1920s. And the vessel was just as important as the scent.

In a 1925 marketing brochure for Chanel No5, it stated that “… the perfection of the product forbids dressing it in the customary artifices.”

Well, that explains Brad Pitt. Not your customary perfume spokesmodel. 

And he’s also more than another pretty face. He’s the guy who supports humanitarian efforts worldwide – Doctors Without Borders, Not On Our Watch and Make Poverty History, to name a few. In the U.S. he led the creation of The Make It Right Foundation to build environmentally friendly homes in New Orleans for families devastated by Hurricane Katrina. He and Angelina Jolie also founded the Jolie-Pitt Foundation which focuses on ending poverty, protecting natural resources and conserving wildlife.

Pitt commits his money AND his time. Not your customary actor either.

So why wouldn’t he be the perfect spokesmodel. He’s already a model for good work and leveraging his fame for causes that help others.

And now he’s also going to smell really good, too!

Tres bien!

Maria Leonhauser is president of Franco Public Relations Group. She can be reached at leonhauser@franco.com. Connect with Franco PR Group on Facebook and Twitter @FrancoPRGroup.