Behind every successful business, celebrity and notable figure, there’s a publicist working to make sure that they get media coverage and maintain their reputations. So, what’s it really like to work in PR?
The Quintessential Gentleman asked one of the industry’s leading publicists about his role as a Lifestyle Publicity Director and the ins and outs of the PR world. Meet Terry Doe of Seventh House PR and here’s what he had to say.
When did you realize that you wanted a career in the fashion/pr industry?
Let me humbly exclaim firstly that I find it so cringe-worthy, dare I say utterly boring, to talk about one’s self. I am more interested in what I can learn and glean from watching and listening to others. But I suppose for the sake of excursions such as these, one should attempt to forego all hesitation.
I actually had no inclination to enter into fashion and lifestyle PR. As a matter of fact, I am currently in my “second season” as a publicist. In truth, my formative professional years were spent as an opera singer traveling the world and performing in some of the leading concert halls across the US and Europe. I guess I fell into PR. My first years as a publicist were at Seventh House PR; where I still am now (they are family to me, and I cherish them to no end). I then took a complete shift and went back to London to train as a classical actor at the Guildhall School Of Music & Drama. From there, I spent a number of years as an actor for theatres and playhouses including The National Theatre Of Great Britain, Chichester Festival Theatre (where I did Shakespeare’s Antony & Cleopatra opposite Kim Cattrall), Southwark Playhouse, Sheffield Theatres, and Theatre For A New Audience here in New York. I was even a part of a very little film, which ended up winning awards from Sundance and other festivals. It was a happy coincidence, coming back into PR. I’d finished a theatre project which I moved back to New York from London for, and turned down another theatre gig I desperately wanted to do but couldn’t for personal reasons; and I became, as many actors do, restless. The stars then seemed to align and directed me back to Seventh House. I was welcomed back without a missing beat. As though I’d never left. I am grateful.
How did you work your way up to the position you currently have?
My current role is as Lifestyle Publicity Director (all the worlds a stage). I would surmise that where I am now is a result of the work I have put in. There! That’s a thought, haha. One of my mentors from drama school, Patsy Rodenburg – the world renowned voice and acting teacher whose coached everyone from Dame Judi Dench, The Royal Shakespeare Company, and innumerable theatre & fortune 500 companies – used to always say “Just do the work. No matter what, just do the work.” I try to live by that. Shut out the clutter. And simply do the work.
What does your position entail?
I suppose I primarily oversee what I phrase as “people, places, & things”. I oversee accounts ranging from fashion brands to lifestyle brands such as beauty, artists & galleries, entertainers & personalities, travel & hospitality (including venues, beverages etc), design, tech, non-profit, as well as events. This includes everything from launching a brand through global media relations, to strategically maintaining and maximizing visibility of all brands – emerging and established – within top and mid-tier press outlets. Then there are those times when one finds oneself as a cheerleader, coach, and confidante for a client. Those instances are especially magical. I do not take any of it lightly.
Is there anything you do for work on a daily basis others might be surprised about?
I speak to my clients at least once a day, every business day; sometimes on the weekends.
Is working in the fashion/pr industry as cut-throat and challenging as many people make it out to be?
That’s a rather interesting question. You know, there are a million firms out there, but I would say maintaining stability as one of the leading pr firms can be cut-throat. Everyone is vying for attention, notoriety, and the best brands to represent. However, if one remains steadfast and committed to the work in all its form, whilst also being open to new ways of approaching that work, then I suppose one’s place can be secure.
What are the ups and downs of your work?
I am not very much of an “inside the box” thinker. I like – and cherish – thinking outside of the box. One of the up’s of my work is working with a new brand and watching the progress and awareness built by sheer augmentation of the category or type that brand is supposed to only belong in. Seeing a brand flourish to become much more than it could have initially imagined simply because the strategic method or campaign exercised was an out-of-the-box, breaking down barriers approach.
One of the worst downs – and one that I still grapple with today – is that the writing isn’t always beautiful and melodious. Haha! You would think that with public relations being all about communication, one would be able to utilize, to the fullest extent, one’s creative writing skills. That is simply not the case. Of course, there are times when you are granted that gift; but a lot of the time, the writing can be rather too stoic, without heart or emotion. All head and no heart! And I am one who believes that heart must always be involved in one’s work. Although, sometimes I can be too much heart, hahaha! It is finding a good balance I suppose.
What aptitudes does someone in your field need?
This may come as a surprise but incredibly strong listening skills and paying extremely close attention to the clients’ wishes and needs are, I think, paramount in this field. It is crucial to take heed to what the clients needs and goals are, so you can work accordingly to achieve those goals, and even surpass them.
Do you have any advice for those trying to find a career path in the fashion/pr realm?
Do The Work. No matter what, simply do the work.
Make sure to follow Terry Doe on Instagram