Fashion Jobs – Career Chat: Q&A with PR Communications Manager Jessica Shamess

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Ever wonder if you were destined for a career in communications? Jessica Shamess (@jessicashamess) Communications Manager at Gap Inc. Canada, gives us the lowdown on what it takes to become a Public Relations savant.

20151023_163216SNTF: For those who don’t know what a Public Relations position entails, could you describe what an average day at the office would look like for you?

JS: As an in-house PR/communications team, we work directly with each global brand lead independently, very similar to a PR agency with multiple clients. We also team up with the corporate communications function, marketing and our Canadian merchants.  Each day is unique but touches on traditional media relations, marketing, brand engagement, consumer events, and digital partnerships. PR is continuously evolving and success relies on integrated full-circle strategies and programs.


SNTF: When looking for jobs in the fashion industry, it is often hard to know where to start. What would you say is the best way to get your foot in the door when pursuing a career in fashion PR?

JS: Take the time to seek out new opportunities to learn and gain experience.  Follow experts and fellow communicators on social platforms to see what they’re reading and sharing, and most importantly, network.  Media, especially digital is changing so quickly that you have to stay on top of new tools and strategies. 

SNTF: What qualities and skills are PR companies looking for when hiring interns and entry-level employees?

JS: Each candidate and position is unique however, a few general skills and qualities include knowledge of fashion and publishing, strong oral and written communication skills, savvy social and interpersonal skills, organized and detail-oriented, and one must have the ability to multi-task and handle high-stress situations.

SNTF: Public Relations is undoubtedly highly communications based. What are some tips you could share to help up-and-coming industry professionals improve their interpersonal skills?

JS: It’s very important to personalize pitches and emails as much as you can.  Make an effort to build relationships with media beyond email.  Many of my friends were once editors or journalists I met through the industry.  Be clear, honest and relevant.  Editors receive so many emails that it’s essential to keep things short yet enticing.  Also, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone.

SNTF: Are there any classes, books or other resources you could suggest to help young professionals advance their PR related knowledge?

JS: Given that PR is a multi-faceted function that is always shifting; I suggest tuning into an assortment of resources that cover multiple beats.  I enjoy catching up with Marketing Magazine, BOF, Fast Company, WWD, The NY Times, Racked, Refinery29, Huffington Post, an array of fashion magazines and lifestyle blogs as well as Canadian-specific outlets.

SNTF: Social media has changed the way the fashion industry functions in regards to PR and marketing. Do PR companies take the way people communicate and market themselves through their social media platforms into consideration when hiring future employees?

JS: I will say that it’s very important to have a clear vision when building your personal brand. One has to assume that all social platforms and content being created and shared is being evaluated at one time or another so I would just say, be conscious of that.

SNTF: Job hunting, especially for the first time post-graduation, can be intimidating. What is the most important thing to keep in mind when applying for jobs in the fashion industry?

JS: Accept that you will need to start at the bottom.  We have all been there so take each opportunity to absorb something new and grow your network.  Something that has always stuck with me is, ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’.

SNTF: Lastly, is there any advice you could share that you wish someone had given you about working in the fashion industry?

JS: Be a generalist and think outside the box.  Work smart, make quick decisions and be humble.


By Sarah Said, @sarahannesaid

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