In Discussion With: Emily - Fashion PR
In discussion with: Emily - Fashion PR.
Welcome to our very first GIW interview! Last week, we sat down with Emily, a PR Co-ordinator for Arcadia, and we chatted to her all about her job, how she got here, and any advice she has for anyone wanting to get into the industry. We hope you enjoy.
So, first thing's first, what do you do?
I am a PR Co-Ordinator working within the Group Press team at Arcadia, who's brands include the likes of Topshop and Topman, Dorothy Perkins, Burton, Miss Selfridge, Outfit, Wallis and Evans. My role revolves around maintaining a positive brand image and media coverage for the two brands that I look after - so getting them talked about, working with journalists, magazines and influencers, and getting our products on celebrities.
Sometimes, a magazine will come to us and say that they're doing a 'floral' feature, for example, and it's my job to then work with the buying team to get a product that's right for them. Oh, and those feature pages you get in magazines that have the little cut-out images on a page? That's us, too!
My job is very varied and very busy - there's always lots going on and lots to do!
What's most challenging part of your job?
At first, it was putting yourself out there and having to meet new people all of the time. There was definitely a confidence barrier - but then you remember that everyone's in the same boat. The journalist that you're meeting doesn't know you either, so it's just a case of doing it, and remembering that everyone is just a person at the end of the day.
Now? it's probably the fact that there's always a lot of different things going on at once - so you have to be good at managing all of the projects at the same time.
And what's your favourite part?
...getting to meet lots of different people! I absolutely love it now. I love getting to chat to journalists and influencers and having the chance to just sit down and have a chat. I also love the events side of my job because it keeps things exciting.
How did you get to where you are now?
Well, long story short - I'm 24 now, I did my A-Levels, didn't go to University, and didn't go straight into PR either. After finishing college at 18, I knew that I wanted to travel a little bit, but other than that, I had no idea what I wanted to do. My year group were the first to be hit with the increased university fees, and I felt that I didn't want to waste so much money on something that I wasn't 100% sure about.
I did English, Art & Textiles at A-Level, and while I enjoyed it, I didn't want to do an Art degree as I knew it was very competitive and didn't know what I would do with it afterwards.
And then I heard about the FRA - the Fashion Retail Academy - which was based in Central London and at the time did lots of courses and qualifications in Fashion, Buying, Merchandising and Business.
I've always been very lucky to live just outside of London, and I have two older sisters who at the time both lived in London. I wanted to be more central with them, and the Fashion Retail diploma at the FRA meant that I could also still keep my part time job in a shoe shop, and so it just seemed perfect.
I didn't know much about PR at the time, but it was those classes during the course that I always really loved found interesting. However, I finished my course, and then my part time job became my full-time job. I decided to stay here for a while and save up so that I could finally go travelling for a few months - and so that's what I did.
I worked and saved for 8 months, and then left this job to travel Australia, Fiji, Bangkok and New York. It was amazing and I had the most incredible time, however, I came back and had a bit of a job crisis as I still didn't know what I wanted to do.
I ended up staying at ASOS for two years, having moved around a little in that time from Customer Care dealing with emails all day, to the social media side where I was able to be a bit more creative and engage more with the customers. I was lucky in that ASOS expanded very quickly in the two years I was there, so it was definitely a fun and exciting time to be with the company.
Then, my boyfriend and I decided we wanted to do a bit more travelling, and it also felt like the right time for me to move on. As much as I loved my job, it just wasn't what I wanted to do. The decision that I was faced with was whether I stay and progress at ASOS, or leave to pursue something that I really wanted to do.
And so, I left. It was a scary decision because I knew I wouldn't have anything to come back to. But we went travelling for two and a half months, deciding that we both needed a break and we would fully focus on our careers once we got back.
The last week of our travels, I thought it was a good time to start having a look online for opportunities for when I did land back in the UK, as I knew Fashion PR was notoriously difficult to get into. Low and behold, there was an internship going at River Island - I applied and got invited to interview, so I flew back into the UK on the Friday, and had my interview with them on the Monday!
I got down to the last two for the position, however the other applicant got the internship as she had more experience than me. However, I must've said something right as RI said that they liked me, and while they couldn't give me the full 6 month internship, they wanted to help me get my foot in the door, and so they gave me a 5 week (paid!) internship instead.
This ended up being fabulous timing, as it meant that I finished the internship just in time for Christmas. And so for the first time in years, I had Christmas off and it was wonderful.
It was around this time that I learned that this industry is all about your contacts and recommendations - it's definitely more who you know than what you know. I interned at Dune, The Sun, and then got an internship at Arcadia. It was meant to be a 4 month internship as a press assistant... and well, I never left!
It was a bit of luck and a bit of good timing as the girl who was above me received a promotion and so her role opened up... and after a lot of hard work, I was given her role. And here we are!
Have there been any key turning points in your career so far?
Leaving my job at ASOS was definitely a pivotal moment for me. I was comfortable and I absolutely loved that job, but I just knew that it wasn't what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I mean, it was scary. I was quitting a permament job, with a small amount of savings to go travelling... and then have nothing to go back to. But it was something that I knew I had to do.
It turned out to be one of the best decisions that I made - I'm now on a career path that I love and really want to pursue, I get to work in central London and I've met so many people along the way that I would never have met if I'd have stayed where I was.
What's the best piece of advice that you've received?
This is going to sound a little cliché, but my Mum always says that you should do what makes you happy. It's not always the easiest or most practical thing to do, but if you're happy doing what you do - then that's the most important thing. It's something that I definitely always keep in the back of my mind.
And finally... do you get discount?