As promised, I am back for the second installment of my PR Girl Season 2 Meet the Stars series. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, this fall, WhatRUWearing presents PR Girl season two. This season, the reality web series gives viewers a look behind the scenes of three PR pros navigating the worlds of fashion, beauty and lifestyle PR. Once again, I have the honor of introducing my readers to the stars of the new season!
Meet Alex Ott, the Founder and CEO of Chrome City PR, a communications and strategy agency that works to share the story of top creative designers, chefs and artists, and more across the country. Her resume includes experience in editorial, advertising, public affairs in various industries. Between an incredible resume, badass fashion sense, and public relations in her blood, Alex is a must-watch in the world of PR. Continue reading to learn more about Alex!
Q & A with Alex Ott
Kourtney: Why did you want to get into the PR profession?
Alex: In retrospect, I never really wanted to get into it. My father owned a PR firm my whole life and after I pursued a career in magazines, the economy crashed in 2008 and I had to figure out what was next. My best friend’s mom and our best family friend sat down with me after my father had recently passed away and I felt lost in where to go next in my career. I told her that I was a great writer and could talk to anyone and she said, “I am sorry honey, but I think you are your father’s daughter. You are perfect for PR,” so I started at a small PR firm in San Diego and have never looked back.
What do you find most challenging about your career?
The multifaceted nature of what we do. We have X amount of clients with X amount of focuses. Within each focus is X amount of goals and projects that each have deadlines. I have a staff that I oversee that works on each of those projects and while we can have all of the programs and trackers in the world, we still all need to communicate about each project, how it should look, how the client feels about it and how it should be delivered to them. It’s a lot.
What drives your success?
I have an ego and a reputation. I want everyone to walk away saying I changed the way they looked at their business and themselves. I also want them to tell ten more people about Chrome City so the word spreads about the work we do and our attention to detail. Work is what I am good at. I am a pretty good mom, a pretty good friend, a pretty good lover, but I am GREAT at work. Feeling like you were born to do something drives you to want to be the best at it and I am constantly seeking to improve my craft. That is what drives my success
What do you do to keep current in the PR industry?
Instagram helps me see what others are doing on a regular basis- whether its my local competition, other firms around the country, influencers, hotels, photographers, creators- it doesn’t matter, I am always staying up to date on how to relate to people by seeing how others are relating to their audience. We keep our firm current by making sure that we curate our client list and only bring people on who we feel is pushing the envelope with their craft or as a creative.
What surprised you most about working in PR?
I am not surprised anymore but I always tell my team that in PR, you are the “First to blamed, last to be thanked.” It can be a thankless job. What has actually surprised me is how well we have been able to find amazing clients who truly value what we do regularly, don’t try to be the experts on communication and collaborate with us in a way that makes us feel heard, respected and understood. It hasn’t always been that way.
What is your favorite part of your job? Least favorite?
Favorite part- connecting with my clients (incredible, driven humans with big dreams) and closing big deals (knowing they see my worth). Least favorite- The uncertainty of where things might go makes me uneasy sometimes and I don’t like having to come down on anyone from my team when they need to step it up or do better. I want them to know how amazing their work is but I always want to push them to be better and see things in a more elevated way and I think it often comes across as controlling or dissatisfied. I have to be ok with that though. I wouldn’t own a successful business if i wasn’t always a little controlling and a little dissatisfied. It is why I connect with my clients who are businesses owners and act similarly toward me sometimes! It all comes full circle.
What has been your biggest win thus far?
My current team is bananas amazing. For me to have people I can rely on to carry out exceptional work from various perspectives in a creative and detailed way is a dream and the biggest win of all. Being hired by the Michael Mina group under the direction of Waldorf Astoria has made me feel really special. Seeing the growth of Bonhomme Hospitality and being part of their mega rise in Chicago hospitality also feels like a huge win for us.
Have you had to overcome any big obstacles? If so, how did you deal with it?
Of course! Who doesn’t have obstacles everyday of their life? The biggest obstacle has been the decision to have a child on my own while still running a rapidly growing agency in Chicago while launching a new one in California. I am still figuring out why I choose such challenging walks in life haha. You deal by believing that you were put on this earth to do these things and you do them with as much grace and strength as you can muster for the day. Take it one day at a time.
How do you like to spend your time outside of work?
I love to hang out with my son and family. I love to read magazines, books, stupid shit online. A little activity between bike riding, yoga and pilates. I love to sleep.
If you weren’t in PR, what would you be doing?
I was a makeup artist for nearly a decade and always know I would go back if this PR thing didn’t work out. I LOVE DOING MAKEUP. I worked for Chanel, Laura Mercier, Trish McEvoy and more and got to be with so many amazing women. It calms me SO MUCH to do makeup on other people. It relaxes me to my core. Its creative and hands on and I love it.
What is your best advice for aspiring PR professionals?
Figure out what you can bring to the table that no one has thought of and execute your vision of that idea even if no one asks you to. Joanna Coles, former editor of Cosmo, recently said in an interview that she likes to surround herself with staff that are better at things than she is so they can make her look good and I couldn’t agree more. Bring it on, all of it.
Follow Alex @AlexVOtt
Still have yet to catch up on the first season? Fear not! You can binge watch season 1 on the PR Girl Series website. Don’t forget to also check out my previous Q & A with another star of season 2, Nolita Pore.