Ashley MacIntyre is the principal owner of MacIntyre Communications, a boutique public relations agency located in the heart of downtown Toronto. Having worked alongside some of North America’s most promising talents in fashion, music, and multimedia, Ashley has carved a name for herself in the industry as an expert marketer, event planner, and accomplished public relations professional. Style Nine to Five was able to chat with Ashley and learn how she got started, her difficulties along the way, how she’s created a successful agency in a tough industry and learn about her advice for those wanting to work in the public relations industry.
SNTF: Can you first tell us about your journey between attending university/college. What was your first job post-school?
AM: After graduating from university, I moved to Toronto – I didn’t know anyone in the city. I ended up working at a restaurant and was invited to a menu tasting (before the opening) and happened to be sitting across from New York City nightclub king, Peter Gatien, and his wife Alex. I secured an interview the next day and started working the following Monday. Right place, right time and a lot of hard work.
SNTF: What were some of the key skills you developed early into your career that helped prepare you for where you are today?
AM: Speak up. I wasn’t afraid of being wrong or looking dumb – I wanted to learn and I wanted feedback… it’s important for growth. My advice to anyone starting out is to speak up. It’s the fast way to get noticed and make your presence known. If you’re shy, perhaps public relations isn’t for you.
SNTF: Your background includes working in marketing, event planning, and public relations. When and why did public relations really pique your interest and eventually lead you to open your own boutique PR agency, MacIntyre Communications?
AM: I had a very unique experience with my first job a CiRCA – I was given the opportunity to run with a job (I was not qualified for) and I challenged myself to figure it out. I knew I loved PR by the amount of time I spent thinking, reading and researching. I decided to open the business because I wanted to do it my way. At the time, PR was focused solely on the traditional format and I wanted to offer more and quickly we became known for our online expertise and influencer relations. We were focused on changing as quickly as the industry was changing around us – something we continue to do today.
SNTF: Can you tell us about the daily tasks and responsibilities as founder and principal of MacIntyre communications?
AM: Majority of my time is spent with clients and staff, whether we are on a conference call, strategy sessions, brainstorming and/or setting the team up for success for the week. I will always make time for my team, they have made the company what it is today.
SNTF: How would you say you handle work/life balance?
AM: Tough question… this is constantly changing for me but you learn to adapt and create your version of work/life balance. Each week, month and year is different (that’s why I love PR). It’s your job to prioritize what’s important to you. That said, PR is a 24 hours job, the news doesn’t sleep. If you are interested in PR, you’re always watching, observing and exploring the world of PR.
SNTF: Staying innovative and fresh in the PR realm can be challenging. Where do you find your inspiration, and how do you separate yourself from other public relations firms?
AM: Reading. I read a lot. I always read so I could be a part of every conversation and have something to say. I’m inspired by the WHY – I like to be challenged in my thoughts, opinion, and ideas. And how do we separate ourselves from other agencies? It’s simple… The people. In PR, most agencies have similar connections but it’s about the actual relationships, the people, their way of doing things and what each individual on the team brings to the table.
SNTF: How do you build and maintain relationships with the various fashion, beauty, lifestyle and entertainment brands?
AM: Get out there. The great thing about living in a city like Toronto is there is always something to attend – an event, a dinner, a coffee/drinks – maintaining relationships is all about putting in the time.
SNTF: What’s your process in deciding whom to take under your wing?
AM: We are looking for exceptional. I am completely fine with someone that shows up to do their job – that’s what you get paid for… but the people that I invest in are those who want it – they want the opportunity, they want to grow and they understand that hard work is the key to success.
SNTF: Which skills would you say are imperative for someone looking to make her or his own name in the PR industry?
AM: Hustle. PR is a 24-hour business – our job is to be always on. If you don’t like the hustle, this is not the business for you.
SNTF: What would you say is the most challenging part of your job and how do you keep yourself from burning out?
AM: People. Although I got into this business to work with people, it’s also the most challenging part. Managing people is hard – each person is unique – their motivation, their drive, their passion and their way of communicating is all unique to them. Working to keep people “happy” in a fast pace industry will always be a challenge in PR.
SNTF: If you could give one piece of advice to those aspiring to make it in PR, what would it be?
AM: My best advice can be summed up by a quote I heard in my early career, “You become successful by saying yes to everything and you stay there by saying no.” Start out saying YES – yes, even when you’re in over your head, yes, to staying late, yes to working an extra event, yes to everything – the way to learn is experience and time is on your side.
SNTF: And finally, what do you wake up looking forward to? What’s next for your career?
AM: I’m not even close to where I want to be…where I want this business to be. Every morning I look forward to growing, learning, getting better – I am lucky that I found my passion early on in my career and I have so much to do!
Image courtesy of Ashley MacIntyre