Name: Lauren Berg
Title: Managing Director
Hometown: St. Paul, Minnesota
Educational background (school, degree, majors, additional training, etc.): Bachelor of Arts in History from Northwestern University
Tell us about your job and daily responsibilities: As the Managing Director, I wear many hats and have my hand in several different aspects of the day-to-day operations at Skirt. I’m responsible for ensuring that our clients are happy, bringing in new and exciting business, and most importantly, keeping our team happy, challenged and invested in growing with the company. My grandpa was an HR guru and innovator in his time, and he (and my dad—both my mentors) have taught me that you’re only as successful as the people working for you. As Skirt continued to grow, it became evident that we needed someone to think big-picture, both with client-driven efforts and our approach to internal operations. I feel lucky that Adrienne trusted me enough to allow me to step into that role; I’ve been given the opportunity to do what I love, which is trying my best every day to help the team grow their careers. Beyond that, I still oversee major accounts and help with strategy creation, pitching, and event execution. I never want to lose touch with the meat and potatoes of this job—busting your butt for an awesome placement. This means staying in constant touch with media and knowing what is press-worthy.
What was your first job out of college and how did you land that position? My first job out of college was an internship at Skirt. I also landed an internship on the Obama campaign at the same time—two extremely different work environments and experiences. As a history major with life-long plans to go to law school, I was pretty devastated when I interned at a law firm in college and felt completely uninspired. I realized I didn’t want to work with paper all day; I wanted to work with people. Senior year was spent doing some soul searching. I focused in on what I loved—the ever-evolving world of fashion, devouring every magazine I could get my hands on, and being a devout communicator in every sense of the word. I was lucky enough to have best friends in the journalism school, who suggested I might like being their counterpart in the industry: a publicist.
From there, I discovered Skirt through an article in CS about the “PR Princesses” of Chicago (it always makes me smile that I found my future employer through an outlet I pitch every week) and immediately applied for the intern program. When I didn’t hear back right away for an interview, I continued to be “politely persistent” (buzz words at Skirt) until they brought me in. I followed up with a handwritten thank you note (a tip I swear by), and the rest is history.
How did you come to work at Skirt? I landed a full-time position here through hard work and a lot of luck. I’m always hesitant to tell our current interns that I was once in their shoes. Life is all about timing, and I happened to be an intern (albeit, a very dedicated and hardworking one!) when Adrienne was looking to hire someone full time. My advice for interns looking to gain full time positions is to become as indispensable as possible. We’ve carved out special gigs for those interns we just couldn’t stand to lose.
What do you love about the PR and Fashion worlds? Are there elements you don’t care for? I love the fast-paced nature of PR and the fact that no day is the same. On Monday, I might be plugging away at my desk sending out pitches, and on Tuesday, I could be in New York running around from Hearst to Condé Nast for deskside appointments with editors. I’ve also come to realize that I love the thrill of landing a major placement for a client. Coming up with just the right angle and just the right editor to pitch it to—when it all works out, it’s a very satisfying feeling, especially when you have amazing clients, like we do at Skirt, who are so grateful and excited. It makes all the hard work worth it.
At the same time, I think the most difficult part of this job is the constant rejection. Ultimately, the decision to run something is in the editor’s/producer’s/blogger’s hands, not mine. For a type-A, self-admitted control freak, that can be hard to stomach! But I also think it has helped me grow immensely (both professionally and personally) and pushed me to work that much harder. It can also be hard to find a good work/life balance with a job that is far from 9-5, but you must do it! The best work comes when you’re happy and finding fulfillment in all aspects of your life.
Take us through an average day at work. What does your typical schedule look like? Truly, no day is the same! But on a regular basis, my days are filled with conference calls with clients/prospective clients, countless emails, internal meetings and brainstorms (often over pizza, my favorite food), a lot of writing (pitches, press releases, strategies), coffees/lunches/drinks with media, and industry events. I couldn’t survive without my Outlook calendar to keep me organized and on schedule!
What characteristics would you say are essential to work in fashion PR? What advice would you give to someone looking to get their foot in the door? In order to be successful in this industry, you have to be: detail-oriented, organized, an exceptional multi-tasker, persistent, creative, and possess strong written and verbal communication skills. My advice is to take a publicist’s approach to getting into the industry: learn how to pitch yourself, do it creatively, and above all, be persistent (but polite, of course)! Also, be a sponge to the industry—absorb all of the magazines/blogs/newspapers you can get your hands on to stay on top of the trends.
What advice would you give to your 23-year-old self? Live in the moment. Life will pass you by and before you know it, you’ll be closer to 30 than 20. Cherish your life and don’t take it for granted—it’s a pretty darn good one!
Favorite budget-friendly brand? In the past year, I’ve become a little too obsessed with Zara. It’s perfect for chic and sophisticated pieces that look expensive but don’t break the bank. I also love ASOS to get my girly fix. They have the best selection of ladylike dresses and skirts.
Click to page 3 to read interviews with Caryn Schoenbeck, senior account executive, and Claire Perkins, social media director at SkirtPR!