After years as PR Director at online fashion boutique my-wardrobe.com, followed by a position as Head of PR at Harrods, Lauren Stevenson put her experience and know-how to good use and set up her own PR agency, Aisle 8.
SheerLuxe caught up with Lauren to talk about her impressive career history, get tips on working in the competitive PR industry and ask her about the key to that work/life balance we’re all after. Ladies, take note.
You co-founded Aisle 8 in October 2014. How is it going?
I set the company up with my co-founder Virginia Norris, who was previously Head of Global PR at Whistles and we honestly haven't looked back. We’re fortunate enough to be working with brands that incude Very Excluisve, Bottica and Stylebop, so it’s incredibly busy.
What does your average day look like?
Every day is different; one day you can be writing strategy documents and signing off press materials and another, you can be managing a 200-person event at The Dorchester. But the core of my role is managing our clients, building the brand portfolio, developing and leading the campaigns and activity and managing our team.
What’s the best thing about working in fashion PR?
What girl doesn’t love fashion? There are certainly worse industries to work in. It’s an industry which has seen quite an evolution recently with digital changing the way catwalk shows are viewed and reviewed, the way we consume media and how we shop for fashion wherever we are in the world. I love that we can influence that continued evolution and via the way we communicate our brands and connect with the global consumer.
You’ve had such a varied and successful career. How did you start out?
My first PR role was as an intern at Aurelia PR in Chelsea, working on Versace, Salvatore Ferragamo and La Redoute. Back then it was the luxury fashion agency, and I was very lucky to be offered a job two weeks in. I left university on the Friday, moved to London and started work on the Monday.
Did you always dream of having your own business?
Funnily enough, for years I thought I never wanted to own my own agency, but then my mum reminded me of my first week interning at Aurelia PR when I said to her one day, “I will have my own boutique agency.” I’ve gone from working in both small and large agencies to one of the first global online fashion e-tailers before moving on to the most famous department store in the world. I couldn’t have predicted my career path, but I’ve loved every moment and every day has helped me learn.
Do you have any top tips for girls who want to get into PR?
Get as much experience as you can and do your homework. You have everything at your fingertips when it comes to researching brands across social media channels and the internet. Being polite and friendly in all things, but PR especially, can get you a long way... It’s not all about qualifications. Some of the best people I have employed over the years have had a mixture of talents, some in writing and some even in drama. Smile and be nice to everyone you meet. You never know where those people you meet at an event or you make a cup of tea for will be in a year or five years’ time.
What makes a good PR and what makes a bad one?
For me, a good PR is someone who is creative, passionate, informed, flexible, strategic and likeable. Above all, it is someone who doesn’t overpromise and always delivers. I look for people who think outside of the box – it’s not just about being popular and having a great little black book. I’ve met many not-so-good- PRs who talk the talk but fail to deliver.
You must have seen a fair few CVs during you career, what are your tips for writing a stellar one?
Keep it clean, simple and lead with your achievements at the top. I want to look at a CV and think 'wow, look at what they have achieved and the businesses they have worked for'.
What can someone do in an interview to impress you?
Show an understanding of our business, our clients, social media and today's media landscape. Show me that you want to work for Aisle 8 and be part of our team. And smile!
What advice would you give women who have moved up in their careers and now face managing a team?
You need to be able to give clear, concise direction so people understand what they have to do. Have understanding and have empathy. Not everything goes the right way and sometimes people need support, advice and help.
You’re now your own boss, but in previous roles how have you dealt with a tricky manager?
Always be one step ahead and never let your boss have to ask you for anything. Just do the best job you possibly can.
Giving presentations is one of those work-related scenarios that many people dread. Any tips on presenting well?
- Know your subject inside and out and rehearse, the confidence and passion will come through.
- Focus on four people in the audience, so your eye line will flick to each one.
- Don’t just read off prompt cards or the audience will switch off.
Finally, how do you spend your downtime?
With friends, family or at hot power yoga and spin class in Clapham. It's the only 90 minutes when I’m actually parted from my phone!