Tag Archives: Retail

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.


Changing Careers at 30: Making the Switch from Retail to PR

Finding a career that balanced her passion and skills is what helped Andrea make the transition from retail management to public relations.

Whether working in retail or public relations, knowing how to tailor your message to different audiences is important.

Switching careers can be scary at any age. There’s uncertainty, hesitation and a slew of other emotions that can make you question your decision. Changing careers in your 30s release all those emotions and then some. Trust me. I’ve been through it. I found myself wanting more out of my career with an outdated degree, little to no experience other than what I was doing for the past 15 years and no network of people to help me make a career transition. Here are some principles that helped me through my transition.

Combine Your Passions and Skills

After much thought of what I wanted to do, I made the decision to return to school and get another degree in public relations. In my former life, I worked in retail management, rising through the ranks at companies like Gap and Target. I loved working on a team and dealing with the public. But I also wanted to make a difference in the world. I chose to combine my experience with my passion and work for nonprofits.

Gain Experience

Volunteering my time at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) led to a part-time position promoting a mission that I was passionate about while helping others in the process. In my former career, I would leave work feeling unaccomplished. At LLS, I left every day feeling a sense of satisfaction. I loved every minute of it. I was gaining valuable experience at the same time. The combination of my previous experience and doing PR for a nonprofit led me to my current position at Franco. Now, I leave work on a daily basis feeling good about myself and doing what I love.

Build Your Network

A friend of mine told me about International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), a professional organization. I started attending their workshops and seminars and meeting like-minded professionals. I was able to make contacts, get career advice and learn about job leads. Never underestimate the power of a professional organization! I am happy to report that I now serve on the on the Board of Directors for the Detroit chapter, leading the student relations portfolio. My goal is to help students make the most of their time in school so they won’t have to go through a career change in their 30s.

Everything Takes Time

I didn’t get to where I was in retail management overnight. The same applies to my newly chosen career of PR. I have to remind myself that everyone has to start somewhere and work their way up. I make mistakes, but my life experience has taught me to admit and learn from them. Life experience is something that cannot be taught. That’s something that comes with age.

Have you gone through a career transition? What helped you make the decision? Are you now happy with your choice? Let me know!

Andrea Kenski is an 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.