Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Q & A with Kristin Janishefski of Vanguard PR, Part 2

5. You have achieved such a successful career at a young age, can you tell us about one of your greatest career achievements?

Not a lot of people know this, but in addition to running The Vanguard, I also volunteer in my spare time teaching mentally and physically challenged kids how to ride horses. This has been such an amazing, rewarding experience for me to make a difference in someone’s future and put a smile on someone’s face. I have learned so much from these kids. They have taught me the importance of patience, kindness, trust, and love and some without ever saying a word. Being able to step out of my normal day to day routine and spend time with these kids really gives me a very different outlook on life. I am able to translate what I have experienced there into being an ethical, moral, and responsible business person. Success didn’t come to me on a silver patter, it took many many long sleepless nights, financial setbacks, emotional twists and turns, but you must drive forward, be determined, and put 150% into everything you do. You must believe in yourself and your vision and know that you can achieve what others deem “the impossible.”

6. How do you see the Lifestyle PR/Fashion PR Industry changing to attract new clients in this overly competitive industry?

In order for firms to stay relevant and attract new accounts, they will have to make a genuine effort to connect with their clients - both with their collections/products and with them as individuals. We make it a point to learn as much as we can about our clients to make sure that they understand what we want to do for them and so we create an atmosphere where they feel competely comfortable expressing themselves and making suggestions. After all, they know their brands better than anyone, and if we do not listen to them and what they need, they will simply go to someone who will. Dishonesty and disinterest are not easily disguised - if a firm doesn't really know or care about a client, it will quickly come to the surface. If you want to survive in this business, you have to know when to just be quiet and listen, and then care about what is being said.

7. With the on surge of blogs, how has that factored in with creating a media plan for your clients? Also, how have you cultivated a successful relationship with some of your favorite bloggers?

It is another avenue to be explored, another possibility to add to the list. The fact that blogs have become so popular is a fabulous thing, especially in the fashion industry, where many of the best blogs are written by industry insiders. It is fashion news unfiltered and often much more entertaining and informative than many of the print books. Many of the blogs base their primary editorial around new and emerging designers, so they are always on the lookout for cutting-edge labels, which is good for us. It is also easy to research their archives and see what kinds of stories they write about and which ones would be a good fit for our clients. Maintaining a solid relationship is as simple as really paying attention to their sites and sending them notes to praise then on particularly funny, juicy or insightful posts. A lot of the bloggers are amazingly friendly and are grateful that you take the time to read their blogs regularly and write to them about their work.

8. As a PR pro staying up-to-date and informed is a MUST, what are some of your must read magazines, newspapers, websites etc?

PR Couture is an invaluable site to keep up with the comings and goings of the fashion PR industry, as is mediabistro.com and prweb.com. For fashion news, there are far too many websites and magazines to even think about listing, but the primary must-reads are WWD, the British Vogue website, fashionista.com, thesartorialist.com, refinery29.com and The Business of Fashion blog. For magazines, the most relevant are the books that combine an appreciation for design and fashion, like Paris Vogue, W, Surface and Clear.

9. Lastly, what advice would you give to someone starting out in this industry?

Don’t be afraid of the telephone! I remember when I first started out, I was so scared to talk to editors and was very intimidated by them. You just have to be yourself and know that these editors need you as much as you need them. Be comfortable and be yourself. Ensure that you really know the product you are pitching inside and out and be prepared to answer any possible question that relates to the brand. Sound as professional and knowledgeable as possible. PR is all about building relationships, be trustworthy and confident and it you will shine!

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