My Job as a Beauty Publicist: What it’s Really Like

By definition, “a publicist is an art of influencing public perception by using strategic communication”…and that is what I (try) to do! It sounds a lot more confusing than it is, but once you understand all the moving parts the picture becomes clearer and your job becomes (a little) easier.

For me, PR and branding are second nature. Its all I have known, all I see and all I think about. My first job was as a marketing intern at Cocoa Brown Tan. I grew as did the company and I became the marketing manager. Seeing a brand grow and being part of it from the beginning is one of the most inspiring experiences. Though I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up I know branding will play a prominent role in it. If you haven’t guessed it already, I really love brands.

Now, I’m in New York where I started out doing social media management. It was fun while it lasted but I fell into an opportunity to get back into beauty PR and I jumped at the chance. Because PR is changing so much right now, social media is becoming a huge portion of my work. So now I get to enjoy the best of both worlds.

So what is life as a publicist like?

Busy af.

While doing some research for this post, I noticed that my job has been ranked as one of the most stressful jobs in the world, multiple years in a row. Yay.

PR is definitely an industry where you have to be switched on a lot. Clients need responding to and can be based anywhere in the world. Email on your phone is a must.

Working in beauty can be glamorous but the work it takes to get to the point of five minutes of glamour is anything but. Don’t be fooled!

A day in the life of a publicist…

Once you arrive at work, media coverage from the past twenty-four hours needs to be captured and shared with Clients. This is a result of the team’s hard work and you should be the one delivering the news to the Client since they pay you to do so.

Because we deal directly with reporters, journalists, bloggers and other members of the media, we must absolutely be able to hold an intelligent conversation with anyone we are actively pitching. This means keeping up with trade news, entertainment sites, tech sites, etc, every day.

Working in beauty, there are often many new product launches. To support this, I am often working on launch events, additional press pitching support to gain coverage or drafting supportive materials for the product.

Throughout the day, conversations with the press are a big portion of my time. I’m responsible for educating the press about my Client and their products and what makes them different (and why they should write about it!). It’s a lot, especially when you have multiple Clients with hundreds of different products.

There is always ad hoc projects that require reports, recaps, and proposals. Weekly calls with Clients to talk about progress need preparing for and monitoring all the progress takes time too.

Due to the nature of the city, I often work late nights and never take a lunch break. But I get beauty samples so its all fine, right?

What skills do you need to be a publicist?

  • Understanding of social media: More and more Clients are asking for social media to support their brand messaging, to reach the right consumer and to increase sales. Before it was national print in glossy magazines such as Elle, Glamour or Cosmopolitan. Now, brands are realizing that conversion to sales is happening more on social media so publicists have to be adaptable to accommodate this change.
  • Communication: Communication happens in all aspects of the job. I send story’s to thousands of editors each month so each email has to be extremely on-point, clear and direct. When dealing with Clients on a daily basis, you also have to be clear in your communications and ensure they fully understand your direction/POV/feedback in the simplest way possible. Working with CEO’s and marketing directors, you really have to minimize the ‘waffle’ and ensure efficiency.
  • Writing: Same as above but more; you must possess the ability to write captivating content. After all, Clients are hiring you to tell the story of their brand; you have to be able to tell it in a compelling manner.
  • Multimedia: Again, since more content is becoming online, you must have a strong knowledge of various types of media. Through my career as a publicist, I’ve garnered basic knowledge of Photoshop, YouTube, SEO and coding to help with my job skills and efficiency.
  • Creativity: Some Clients have 300 products to pitch and some Clients only have 3. It’s my job as a publicist to be creative in the way we tell the story of the 3 products, over and over again. Magazines change their storylines every month and we have to (somehow) make our Client adaptive to suit as many storylines as possible. Its all about twisting the angles and creating excitement!
  • Most of all, be nimble, quick to think on your toes and a hard, hard worker

The pro’s about being a publicist:

  • Seeing your work make a difference to the sales of a brand. One single piece of news coverage has the power to do this. If its the right one, you’ll really make an impact. The excitement in that alone motivates me every day.
  • Getting to meet so many new people and develop relationships with the media.
  • Attend fun events and represent your Client.
  • Free stuff. Because I specify in beauty, I spend very little on beauty products! Its really every young girl’s dream, although I wish I had more room in my apartment to store it all!
  • Launching a new brand can be the most exciting thing. Working with a brand that is just starting out, you are often working with the founder/owner. The sense of excitement and learnings you’re exposed to is so very inspiring.

…And the cons:

  • Working, all the time. When you’re working on a story or event with the media, you’re often working one on one with a specific editor or influencer. You can’t drop the ball and to ensure you bring the stories and events to life in timely fashion, you must not take your finger off the pulse.
  • Events can be tiring, especially when you have to plan, budget, manage the roles, set up on the day, mingle and moderate the event and then break everything down and then recap it all to the Client. There are a lot of moving parts to an event and working with few team members means everyone has to chip in and do what needs to be done.
  • When it doesn’t work out, it can get disheartening. This is the case for all jobs, I guess but sometimes a plan doesn’t work out and you may have invested money, time and relationships into it.

I hope this shares an insight for any of you thinking about getting into PR or maybe not knowing what you want to do. As always, feel free to send me a DM on Instagram if you have any career related questions!

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