April 16, 2012

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Talking Fashion PR: Tips, Advice, and Words of Wisdom from PR Pro, Ashley Mangat

I've received countless e-mails and comments from you crazy kids who have big dreams of being the next Kelly Cutrone, or want to know more about a career in public relations, so today's interview is for you.

Aside from her impressive education -- she has a certificate, diploma, and a degree in PR and/or professional communications, all with honours, of course -- this PR pro has a diverse amount of practical experience having worked both in-house and at a fashion agency. She has worked with with top companies and clients such as Teck, Linde Canada, Blo Blow Dry Bar, Malene Grotrian Design, Canadian Investor Relations Institute (CIRI) and Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver -- before co-founding a fashion PR and social media agency, Social Chair, back in late 2010.

Me and Ashley at Y-3's Fall 2011 show at New York Fashion Week. Ah, the year we lost our NYFW virginity!

She's currently making the transition from PR girl extraordinare to fashion stylist (fashion PR fact: you develop a wide variety of skills and discover cool talents throughout your career, which can lead to new careers!) but she's taken the time to give out some solid advice about the world of fashion PR, and answer every job interviewee's biggest question: what the heck should I wear?

And so I present one of my dearest amigas, Ashley Mangat.

A HAUTE MESS: How did you get started in public relations and what attracted you to the industry?

ASHLEY: Like many self-involved teenagers, I was really unsure about what I wanted to pursue in college after graduating high school. I really only cared about the parties and boys that came with college life. But after a couple years of stern lectures from my dad to get my shit together, I began to read up on professions that might be of actual interest to me. I learned about the communications field through my older cousin who was working as a brand and PR manager for a highly established television network in London, England. As I learned about the ins and outs of the job, I became fascinated and decided to pursue a career in public relations. What originally attracted me to PR was that it's a creative outlet, particularly fashion PR. Writing and design have always been things I enjoy and writing, itself, really is the cornerstone of communication.  

What challenges are attached to the job?

Most PR campaigns won't see high end results for a long time. It's really a slow progression and it requires a lot of time and dedication. Patience isn't my strong point, so this was always something that I really struggled with. And it also doesn't help when some clients are unaware of the intricacies of a pitch/campaign and expect results overnight. Because of that you're looking at the poster child for stress related breakouts and late night binging.  

What do you feel is the most rewarding part about fashion PR?

Being surrounded by such creative visionaries and talent -- it's beyond inspiring. You're receiving an education you would never get in school by learning from the best in the industry, collaborating, and forming relationships that will last a lifetime. I'm looking at you Blasina!

 [L-R] Erin, Elim, Ashley, and I at a fashion presentation we put on for standing armed, in September 2011. (photo by Lisa Wong)

What skills or traits do you think are essential to be successful in fashion PR?

To be successful in PR, you definitely need to be organized, resourceful, timely, dependable, and a quick thinker. In fashion PR, you need all of the above and hustle. Networking and forming connections is essential along with actually having a sincere passion for the fashion industry. One of the biggest mistakes I find with newbs is that they forget to mind the food chain. Know your place, be respectful, and leave the phoniness at the door. Sincerity, respect, and civility go a long way. 

As a PR girl-slash-stylist, what are wardrobe essentials that every PR girl must have?

A well tailored blazer. You can throw it on over a t-shirt paired with slim-fit jeans, over a blouse with tailored shorts, or with a colourful dress -- the options are endless. A blazer is a fashion PR trifecta: chic, professional, and polished. 

And as glamourous as running around in heels sounds (yeahhh NO), always carry a pair of city flats in your bag. Homegirls, your feet will thank me for it. Trust.

 This fashion publicist works events in Wang. (photo by Matilda Meyer)

What do you recommend wearing to an interview or internship?

What you wear to an interview is crucial. It's your first impression and you need to make a killer one. Like any interview, one should always look polished. However, for a fashion interview, there is a little more room for play and self-expression. You don't have to be wearing a suit -- in fact, I advise against it. Instead, you could pair a sophisticated denim with a silk blouse and put on a bouclé jacket as an alternative. And PLEASE don't forget about shoes. Shoes are key. You don't need to break the bank and snap up some Wangs, just make sure your shoes are smart and well paired with the outfit. Worn-in and scuffed up shoes just present a lazy factor and you most likely won't get a call back.
As for what to wear during your internship, just make sure you can seamlessly fit into a meeting with potential and current clients and then be able to transition from that meeting to an after-work event. Sometimes there isn't time to go home and change, so be versatile.

Do you have any job/internship interview tips?

Smile! It's so underrated but showing your enthusiasm and being positive is magnetic. People want to surround themselves with positivity, so emanate that! And also make sure to ask questions at the end of the interview. It shows that you're genuinely interested in the person sitting across from you.

What is the best PR advice you ever received?

Never represent a brand/company if their vision doesn't align with yours. If you don't believe in what you're trying to pitch, you won't be successful. Journalists and editors will weed out the bullshit and you will find yourself not working as hard on the campaign because of the lack of interest. So go after clients that you have something in common with and would like to collaborate with. It will be mutually beneficial.

What advice would you give to someone interested in a career in fashion PR?

Find a good internship, and appreciate it and the opportunities that are being presented to you. Just because you've interned doesn't mean that you're worthy of a reference. So go above and beyond of what is expected of you, and form genuine relationships. It will lead to more (and hopefully paid) opportunities. Networking and having the ability to form these good relationships will prove to be extremely valuable.

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  1. Thanks for sharing this! This advice is amazing.


  2. Thanks for the photo credit!

    Keep it up with the new interview posts and the great content. :)

  3. did not think about wearing an outfit that goes from day to night at work

    thanks for sharing this! good advice =)