From new launches to strategising, planning events to staying up to date with the latest trends, no one day is like another when it comes to a job in public relations .
From in-house to agency, Account Director Kate Armitage has seen first-hand what it takes to work with some of the biggest beauty brands around. At Beauty Seen PR she works on the Revlon , La Prairie and Dr Hauschka accounts and has helped spearhead some of their most exciting collaborations and launches in the past few years.
We caught up with Kate to ask her for her top tips for success, her career advice for those looking to follow in her footsteps and finding the time to train for the London Marathon this year.
GTG: Could you describe for us what your job entails? What does a typical day look like for you?
KA: I wouldn’t say there is a typical day in my job, the beauty of it (no pun intended) is that it’s ever changing and therefore, there’s no chance of getting bored. Some days I don’t leave my desk, the next I’m barely at my desk. I’ve done everything from Fashion Week to festivals, the BRITs to the BAFTAs, photoshoots to product launches equally and I’ve spent days at a time collating numerical reports or devising PR strategies.
GTG: Could you tell us a little about your background and how you broke into the industry?
KA: I always knew I wanted to work in PR. I remember being 15 in the school library reading a book all about it. I didn’t do a related course at uni but instead studied Psychology and Sociology at Newcastle. I think the beauty of this industry is that people come into it from all walks of life. I once worked with a girl who had studied neurosciences at university.
When I graduated, I was lucky enough to get an internship at Estée Lauder Companies working on fragrance brand Jo Malone London. This internship was the foot in the door for me and I would encourage anyone to pursue this route. Towards the end of my internship a job came available, still within Estée Lauder Companies but at MAC Cosmetics. I’m still grateful to the team there who employed me and who I then spent my first 3 years of my career working with and learning from. I stayed in-house at Estée Lauder Companies for 5 years, moving on from MAC Cosmetics back to Jo Malone London before jumping ship, and heading to the agency side of life at Beauty Seen.
GTG: What’s the most challenging project you have worked on?
KA: I think this has to be the Suede by Sophia Collaboration I spearheaded with Revlon and Sophia Webster back in 2013. It definitely had its challenges, but equally it was the most rewarding.
It was quite a gamble taking Revlon so far off the beauty pages but it was hugely successful and something I still benchmark campaigns today against. Sophia is one of the most incredible women I’ve ever worked with - she is so creative and has such a clear direction for her brand. I’m still obsessed with her and her shoes and accessories. It’s fantastic to see where she has taken the brand over the last few years.
GTG: How do you organise yourself?
KA: I’m a bit old school and rely heavily on my notepad and pen to create to-do lists. I start each week by going through what I need to do, jotting it down and putting a deadline against it. I’m always on my phone as well responding to emails. However, I think it’s important to have time to switch off - it’s impossible to be organised if you don’t allow yourself a bit of downtime.
GTG: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to do what you do?
KA: Internships are the best route in. Once you’ve got your foot in the door, your hard work and dedication will speak volumes and always remember contacts are key. Take any opportunity to put yourself out there and don’t be shy.
Equally, you have to be willing to work unusual hours and sometimes get a bit dirty. PR isn’t all glamour (although there is a lot of it). At one point I found myself digging in a bin on the streets of London trying to salvage something a global visitor had accidentally thrown out - all in a day’s work!
GTG: How do you achieve a work-life balance?
KA: Given the nature of the industry it can be a challenge but certain elements such as social media and reading magazines I don’t see as work, so am happy to do at any time. However, I try not to look at my emails after 7pm and over weekends. My partner is in the army and he’s been great in helping me put my life into perspective. Equally my first ever manager taught me the saying, ‘It’s PR not ER’ and I try to look at work/life like this.
GTG: What 3 things do you do to maintain energy, focus and motivation throughout the day?
KA: I’m a huge fitness addict, so much so that I actually did the London Marathon this year - madness! Exercise is key for your health, both mentally and physically.
Earl Grey tea - anyone who has ever worked with me knows I can’t go a few hours without a cup. Some might say I’m slightly addicted, I guess this isn’t such a bad thing seeing as I don’t drink coffee.
Sweets - I wish I could lie and say green juices or healthy snacks but I love sour/sugary sweets such as Haribo Tangfastics, these have got me through the dark days!