*Reposted from the article on PR Couture‘s ‘Front Row Fashion PR Interview Series’ 11/4/2015
A strategic communications firm specializing in beauty, fashion and lifestyle brands celebrating its 15th year in business, Red PR ensures that senior-level talent is intimately involved with each client. The importance of collaboration and quality of service is the directive of Julia Labaton, Red PR’s Founder and President, who was recently noted by PR News in their Top Women in PR Awards in 2015. Working with clients including Morgan Taylor Lacquer, Cricket Company, Ouidad and Fendi Fragrance, this New-York based boutique form is focused on providing large agency capabilities with a focus on building compelling stories to key audiences.
How did you get started in PR?
My first summer internships, in high school, were at CBS News, where I learned to love the news and media business. In college, I interned for Bill Moyers where I gained my first exposure to PR assisting the communications director.
I graduated during a recession from Mount Holyoke College with a degree in French and English Literature. Getting a job was tough. Media and communications appealed to me because it combines creativity and strategy. I started researching and reaching out to advertising and PR companies with a global presence. Working in the corporate PR department of Hill+Knowlton was my first full-time job. It was great exposure to the different types of clients, industry sectors and the inner workings of a large global agency. I was fortunate to be under the wing of some very talented strategists, media specialists, crisis experts and presentation trainers. I was fascinated to learn about the close connection between journalism and public relations.
Share a bit about your time at Vogue and Lippe Taylor:
I worked in the PR department of Vogue, doing everything from event planning to publicity to getting coffee and copying clips. I was one of two assistants to Paul Wilmot, the Director of PR there at the time and a terrific mentor. It was exciting to see immediate results from my work and to work in such a fast paced environment with creative people. What thrilled me most about that job was that it opened my eyes to career possibilities in the industries I love as a consumer.
Lippe Taylor was a wonderful environment of smart, creative people. I learned a lot about media relations, event planning, creative thinking, and especially the beauty industry. I am friends with many of the women I worked with.
“What thrilled me most about [working at Vogue] was that it opened my eyes to career possibilities in the industries I love as a consumer.”
What is the mood like in the office? What are you working on right now?
Our office is small and open so it is a very pleasant and welcoming environment. We respect and truly like each other a lot. It’s also extremely creative and collaborative. Clients benefit because we are constantly sharing ideas and media opportunities.
Currently, I am working on a branding strategy for a hair care line, launching a new beauty tool line called Phuse that is born out of the social shopping community idea, taking two really hot nail brands to the next level of consumer awareness, and wrapping up 12 different events we did for 3 clients during New York Fashion Week.
What is one PR strategy that’s really working well these days?
Whether you’re pitching, doing a press delivery, speaking or interviewing, always know your audience and the best ways to reach them. Each target group get its news, information and entertainment from different sources. And nobody gets it all from one place. Compelling campaigns are when the brand is integrated into the editorial, not the other way around.
What is a recent success story that makes you especially proud?
RED PR is celebrating its 15th year in business. I’m very proud of being a successful entrepreneur, especially in New York City – the greatest (and toughest) city in the world. Every day, I’m proud of the work my team and I produce together. I’m also honored about winning a PR News ‘Top Women in PR’ Award earlier this year.
What is unique about working with beauty brands?
The personalities of the people behind the companies, the technology behind the products and creativity in the branding are unique. It’s fascinating to learn the origin, experiences and inspiration behind a brand and new products. Some of our clients started as, or still are, family-run businesses; they have wonderful stories that can’t be duplicated. Each of our beauty clients approaches serving its market in a different way. A number of our clients are global and it is inspiring to be a part of fueling a brand’s international success.
What makes an ideal RED PR client?
Diamonds in the rough. It doesn’t matter how big or small the company is, if the people behind it are smart, collaborative, entrepreneurial, willing to takes some risks and have a realistic budget, we can help them. If it is a product that excites us, we can excite others too! But most importantly, an ideal client sees the big picture behind consumer behavior and recognizes the need to understand what sparks consumer enthusiasm and interest.
“It doesn’t matter how big or small the company is, if the people behind it are smart, collaborative, entrepreneurial, willing to takes some risks and have a realistic budget, we can help them.”
How do you get the word out about RED PR?
By treating ourselves like a client. We get publicity, apply for awards, issue press releases, host events, use social media, use referrals and word-of-mouth.
What excites you about PR these days?
There are more channels than ever before and new ones everyday – blogs, social media, websites, magazines – which is exciting yet also makes it more of a challenge to stand out. The noise level is so high, it used to be 15 minutes of fame, now it’s more like 5 seconds. Technology is a constant learning curve but the methods of building a reputation and cultivating relationships are the same.
What are three must-haves essential to your job?
iPhone, email, social media. (As well as sleep, water and play-time with my dog, and TV on demand to keep up on Scandal.)
Background Julia image by Lord Ashbury.