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My Fashion Career: Kelly Meade, PR Manager at Phase Eight

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Getting a foot in the door of the fashion industry may be daunting. It’s an extremely competitive world where cool creatives and sassy strategists have to work together to keep up with rapidly changing trends and a demanding audience who are spoilt for choice. That being said, fashion careers can be very appealing to those whose love for the industry is only paralleled by their determination to leave their mark on it.

Kelly Meade is currently the PR manager at UK fashion retailer Phase Eight. Kelly spoke to The National Student about her role within the company, her journey to get there following her graduation from university, the decision-making process and some valuable tips on how to get a job in the fashion sector.

Before Kelly got her job at Phase Eight, she studied English at Loughborough University in 2008, achieving a BA (Hons) degree. She believes the degree and educational process has helped her in gaining valuable skills which she has had to apply throughout her career.

‘When choosing a degree, I wasn’t sure about what I wanted to “do” as a career and felt quite anxious about picking a subject that might restrict those decisions in the future,' she says. 'I now realise that a degree equips you with skills that can be so useful in the future – better communication, time management, having to think for yourself and create your own ideas and opinions that are inspiring and fresh.

‘For PR and marketing, communication and creativity is very important and work placements can teach you so much more “on the job” than studying it from books. I have learnt so much in the last five years working in different environments and with a diverse range of brands that I have never felt it to be a disadvantage that I didn’t have a degree tailored specifically to my career path.

‘One of the best things about my job is that no two days are the same. I am mainly responsible for sourcing great press coverage for Phase Eight within national papers and consumer magazines, online and broadcast as well as working closely with celebrity stylists to dress their clients for public appearances and red carpet events.

‘On a typical day I will contact press with our latest campaign, brand news stories or products relevant to their publication and we will send them samples or images of products for them to use for their fashion shoots and stories.

‘Each season we shoot a new lookbook, which offers press a preview of the upcoming season and requires thorough planning with the creative team. We’ll then have to plan a press event to showcase the products to press. As well as press liaison, we are responsible for organising customer events in-store such as new openings or fashion shows. We source potential promotions to take part in with our concession partners both in the UK and internationally. So there is constantly something to be doing – time management is key!

‘I love seeing the results of a campaign that we have worked on for months, that’s the best part of the job for me. For Spring/Summer 2015 we were shooting the product back in October and presented it to press in November. It is only then that you see the results of that, with the product being featured in magazines and, when you do, it’s great!

‘I love meeting new people and getting the chance to be creative everyday – thinking of new, inspirational ways to promote the brand and then being left responsible for owning that project. It can be really exciting!

‘I love working for Phase Eight and want to continue to help the brand grow in strength – and grow with it. I’d love to grow my team and gain experience in international PR and marketing as well as gaining experience in online and the promoting potential digital offers.

‘While it doesn’t always seem a fair way of getting your foot in the door, you must get as much work experience through internships as possible. I’m a great believer in the fact it is as much to do with who you know as what you know, so always try to stand out when interning so that your line manager places trust in you to take on further responsibilities and remembers you after you’ve gone.

‘I didn’t realise at the time but, when I applied for my first junior press officer role, the MD of the company knew my manager at not one but two of my previous internships. I had two instant recommendations without realising it and was hired after one interview.

‘You have to prove you are passionate, hardworking and enthusiastic – even when the tasks are less than glamorous or interesting! I always value those traits with interns we take on, having been there myself, and I wouldn’t hesitate recommending someone for a permanent position if they showed potential.’

Good luck to all graduates out there and, if you want to check out the career opportunities at Phase Eight, please click here.




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