In Bloom: A Reflection on a Season of Growth

Hello my precious little corner of the intranet, I’ve missed you so much! I’ve returned from [yet another] much needed hiatus. No matter how much content I have planned or ideas I put to paper, every year I find that I need a bit of a break from the world of blogging and social media.

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Blogging has always been a creative outlet for me and a huge passion, but in the last few months, I lost the drive and passion I had for it. It honestly started to feel like a second job, and that was NEVER my intention. I found myself questioning my writing, and consistently worrying about what my people thought and if I was being judged (ridiculous I know). More often than not, we as humans have a tendency to allow fear to control us. It’s so easy to fall into the comparison game with other bloggers, especially since we only use social media as a highlight reel, as opposed to us showing what’s really going on in our lives. Truth be told, everyone has highs and lows, and sometimes the lows outweigh the highs. As Epictetus reminds us, it’s all in the way that we handle what life throws at us that makes all the difference.

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters”

– Epictetus

This year has been a whirlwind of activity so far with an abundance of change that has affected me exponentially. It’s only proper that I take advantage of the season and use the metaphor of spring to reflect on these last few months. You see, I used to loathe change; the very thought of it would make my stomach turn and my anxiety skyrocket. However, in the last few years, I’ve learned to embrace it: without change, we would never learn and grow into the people we are meant to be.

A quick recap on the last couple months

It’s been a minute since I’ve had a chance to sit down and really hash out what has been going on. Life has been moving so quickly lately that I feel as though I really haven’t had a second to catch my breath. There are a number of things that have taken place this year that are not so great, but I’m not going to focus on that right now. I have two HUGE changes in my life that I could not be more elated about that I’m so excited to share with you guys:

I got a promotion! Nearly three years into my first post-grad job, I got my first promotion to Brand & Events Coordinator. This came a couple weeks before our biggest show of the year, which was a bit daunting, but long story short, we rocked it and I’m incredibly proud of myself! I’ve been working a lot more lately because of the promotion, but I feel as though it’s instilled a new sense of confidence in me professionally. I have so many ideas and tactics that I can’t wait to share in the work place!

I’m no longer in a long distance relationship! My boyfriend is officially home for good after four long years and my heart is so full. It’s a bit of an adjustment (in the best way) figuring out how to actually date again, but in the last month, I’d say that we’ve adjusted quite nicely. We’ve both grown so much these last four years both as individuals and in our relationship so I’m excited to see where this next chapter of our relationship takes us.

Lessons Learned

The biggest takeaway from this is to give myself a break every now and then // On my recent work trip to Chicago for our biggest trade show of the year, my sinuses got the best of me and I was SO SICK come day two of the show. Five days later, I was getting ready to hop on a plane to come back home and it was not letting up whatsoever, and it didn’t help that I dove right back into work a brief 24 hours after touching down. My body was in desperate need of some R&R. That long weekend, I allowed myself to have a couple lazy days to sleep and recuperate. Let me tell you, that was the BEST decision I had made in a long time. The following Tuesday, I was feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and so much better!

Prioritize your time // With my new promotion, I’ve taken on many new responsibilities, and I noticed pretty early on that if I don’t prioritize my time wisely, NOTHING goes as planned and you’ll be asking for extensions on your deadlines. This also goes for life outside of work; I was making time for friends, family, Ryan, working out and staying on top of the few tv shows I have in my rotation, but I was going without making time for my blog and other projects that fuel my fire.

Unplug // There’s a reason why every single mental health article tells you to unplug every now and then, it WORKS! I have a difficult time turning my brain off in order to sleep — especially with so much going on lately. I’ve discovered that unplugging for at least an hour before bed helps me sleep soundly.

What and whom to give my energy to // This has been a long time coming. I’ve found that I get so wrapped up in certain aspects in life that don’t matter and aren’t worth my time nor energy. I recently read the book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson and — let me tell you — this book has totally changed my perspective on so many facets of life. One of my biggest takeaways from the book was choosing my battles and stripping away all of the bs to live my best, most unapologetic life. Manson presents a hilariously vulgar tough love approach to creating self-awareness and learning about what matters most in life. This book has been sitting on my “to-read” shelf for years, and now I wish I would have had the opportunity to read it at a younger age. I highly recommend this book to everyone! 

-K.

PR Girl Season 2: New Faces, Same Hustle Part II

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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!

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Photo credit: PR Girl Series

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.

– K.

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PR Girl Season 2: New Faces, Same Hustle

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This Fall, WhatRUWearing brings PR Girl back for round 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. If you read my previous post for season 1, you’d know that I loved every second of the show, and it left me so inspired to pursue a career in PR. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to get to know the stars of the new season a bit better by featuring them here!

Today, I’m introducing you to Nolita Pore. Nolita recently relocated from Houston to Chicago, making the career leap from higher education to PR and marketing. In her new role as Social Media & Public Relations Manager at Namaste, a leading hair care company, she demonstrates her expertise of how the digital marketing world operates in developing and executing strategic campaigns, brand management, and more. In addition to her full-time role, Nolita exercises her creative writing skills on her amazing blog The MonaLita. Learn more about Nolita in my Q & A with her below!

 

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Q & A with Nolita Pore

Kourtney: Why did you want to get into the PR profession?

Nolita: I have wanted to be in a creative field ever since I was a little girl. PR has allowed me to find that perfect balance as a creative. I can utilize all of creative talents and ideas to push a brand forward.

What do you find most challenging about your career?

What I have found most challenging at times has been teaching people that I do so much more than write captions for Instagram posts. That’s just 1% of the impact that I have had on the brands that I have worked for. Typically I have found that people who do not understand the power of digital marketing lack the ability to respect what my profession calls for me to do.

What drives your success?

What drives my success is my desire to establish a sustainable legacy of wealth for my future family. Every day I wake up with the intent to be paid my worth, to make my family proud, and do all that I can to get a few future brown babies of the Forbes list. Oh also, I won’t stop grinding until I can take a sweepstakes sized check to Navient headquarters and pay my student loans off in FULL.

What do you do to keep current in the PR industry?

I have to keep my finger on the pulse of the culture. I value the demographic that I strategically market to because I am that demographic. By me valuing them I have to know what’s going on across the board in the culture.

What surprised you most about working in PR?

What surprised me the most was how misunderstood PR and digital marketing is. It’s always funny when I travel for work and people assume I’m being paid to fly to different cities and simply twiddle my thumbs but once they realize I work 10-12 hour days working the beautiful events they only see from one perspective on social media they respect what I do more.

What is your favorite part of your job? Least favorite?

Favorite part is seeing the end result of my strategies and hard work. My least favorite part at times can be having to engage in surface level conversation at events because I am an introvert in my mind and if a conversation isn’t helping me to grow or learn I prefer to remain quiet.

What has been your biggest win thus far?

My biggest win thus far was breaking into this industry after soooooooooooooooooooooo many people told me to just go teach because it probably wouldn’t play out the way I wanted but look at me now!

Have you had to overcome any big obstacles? If so, how did you deal with it?

My biggest obstacle was making the decision to give up my life in Houston to move back to Chicago to pursue my career change from higher education to pr/marketing. I had to readjust to living with family at the age of 30 after having lived on my own for 10+ years. It was a challenge but that short term sacrifice has set ya girl up to be in this season of growth right now, so it’s all good.

How do you like to spend your time outside of work?

Outside of work I love to go on solo adventures whether it be to a new restaurant, walk on the beach, or going to a concert. Also I am still on cloud 9 of being back out on my own with my new apartment so I just love coming home and sitting in silence in MY place.

If you weren’t in PR, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t in PR and didn’t have level 10 stage fright I would probably be a singer. I love singing but I just get soooooo nervous.

What is your best advice for aspiring PR professionals?

Figure out what YOUR formula of success looks like and do not sleep on what your gut tells you. My formula of success has been me being me and people either love it or move around. When I stopped going to interviews attempting to present myself how society tells me to I found that those interviewing connected with how real I am and my passion for what I do. Show your hunger and go for yours! The right people will respect it and want you on their team.

Follow Nolita @TheMonaLita

 

Are you caught up on the first season? You can binge watch season 1 on the PR Girl Series website, and check out my Q & A with the star of season 1, Alexandra Moresco here.

– K.

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Calling All PR Girls!!

PR Girl logo3-07.jpgHave you ever wanted an exclusive look into what goes on behind the scenes in the world of public relations?

WhatRUWearing and PR Couture partnered up to produce the reality web series PR Girl. The show follows Chicago-based entertainment publicist, social media expert, full-time graduate student and Lyme Disease advocate Alexandra Moresco as she balances grad school at DePaul University, planning her wedding and the first annual Chicago gala for a global organization, all while running her own PR firm.

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As many of my readers know, I studied communication and public relations in college, and am pursuing a career in the field of PR. Lately, however, I’ve been struggling with where I’m currently at and where I’m headed in my career.  Just when I was thinking about giving up on my dream of working in public relations, I received an email promoting the web series. Immediately I knew I HAD to watch it, and managed to binge it within the hour.

After watching part 1 of the series, I wanted to run out and tell my friends that are pursuing careers in PR about it! I found it very easy to relate to Alex as a young professional. She proves that no matter how young you are, you are capable of anything and everything you set your mind to as long as you’re willing to put in the work, and I think that is a great message. The show also gives the viewer an inside look into what really goes behind the glitz and glamour of PR.

Watching this show has inspired me to keep pushing forward no matter what obstacles I may face on my way to reaching my goals. That is why I was so excited to have the opportunity to ask Alex a few questions about her career in the below Q & A!

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Q & A with Alexandra Moresco

Kourtney: Why did you want to get into the PR profession?

Alexandra: Honestly – getting into the PR field was a mistake! I started out at DePaul University as an accounting major – if you know anything about accounting, there is no creativity in it! I wound up starting a blog to exercise my creative muscle and much to my shock people actually read it. I wound up learning how to make media kits, work with brands and grow a following which ultimately led me to developing PR skills! I changed my major to PR my Sophomore year of college and knew it was for me.

What do you find most challenging about your career?

PR in general can be a challenging field because the landscape is always changing- there is always a new social media network, media outlet or app to keep up with. You constantly have to be very in tune with the industry and what is trending.

What drives your success?

I have always been a little bit of a workaholic- I love working with clients I truly believe in, and every mention we get or deal we do feels like a major win. My clients become some of my best friends so I am always very passionate about seeing them succeed.

Right now, I am doing a lot of work fundraising and raising awareness for Global Lyme Alliance: a 501C3 nonprofit that is working to find accurate diagnostic testing and a cure for Lyme disease. 55% of testing for Lyme is inaccurate and there is no cure which I find totally unacceptable. I am personally battling Lyme right now so the thought of changing chronic illness for the next generation is what keeps me going.

What do you do to keep current in the PR industry?

Personally, I stay in touch with others in different areas of the industry to see what is going on. I also read magazines like Entrepreneur and Fast Company to keep up to date with what is changing in tech to see where social media is headed.

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of working in PR is the fact that I get to work on projects that I am incredibly passionate about all while exercising my creative muscle!

What is your best advice for aspiring PR professionals?

I have two chunks of advice for aspiring PR professionals. Growing up, my mom had a plaque in our kitchen that said “say little, do much.” That always reminded me not to just say I was going to do something, but to actually do it.

The second has to be: be a genuine, nice person. Most people can tell if you are being disingenuous and will stay away from you. Being nice to everyone you meet should just be common sense: after getting diagnosed with Lyme, it truly made me realize that everyone is going through some kind of personal battle. If you are a kind person, good things will come your way, personally and professionally!

Have you watched PR Girl, yet? Binge watch season 1 here, and let me know what you think!

-K.

Surviving My First Post-Grad Job: A Year in Reflection

“There is no substitute for hard work” – Thomas Edison

I’ve been at my first post-grad job for about a year and a half now, and thus far it has been a whirlwind of learning experiences. If you’ve stuck with me this long, you’ll know that I did a brief reflection after my first week on the job. Needless to say, after only a week on the job, I had no idea what lay ahead for me in my position.

A Brief HistoryInitially, I was hired on to take over our Social Media Strategist’s position while she was on maternity leave. She’d been at the company for about five years at the time, and is  beyond fantastic at her job. Daunting was an understatement. As turbulent as it seemed at the time, I found that I really enjoyed the position, namely because I was gaining more global experience than I ever thought I would. Upon her return in January, I was handed over some of the same responsibilities I was doing in her position, such as branding/merchandising, writing press releases, and managing local trade shows and conferences. These items, as well as a few others, are what I’m currently responsible for in my position.

Here are a few lessons I’ve taken away from my first year in corporate America:

  • You will make mistakes. Accept them. Learn from them. Early on, I was terrified of making any mistakes, but it turned out that I was preventing myself from learning. After a series of events and some self reflection, I finally acknowledged that it is all part of being human, and the learning process.
  • Be hungry to learn. Take on every learning opportunity you are given even if it scares you; something truly great could come out of the experience. If an opportunity is not directly presented to you, it does not hurt to ask! In fact, it will make you an exemplary employee.
  • Ask questions unapologetically. I’m not going to lie, it took me a while to figure out that my co-workers are not going to get mad at me or annoyed with me if I have a question. It’s always better to ask a question, rather than assuming and doing something wrong. You are not expected to know everything when you first start out. Be sure not to ask the SAME question over and over again – this is where you’ll piss people off.
  • Find yourself a mentor. Being one of the youngest people in the company is a challenge in itself. Luckily, I’ve been blessed with an awesome team that genuinely wants me to succeed.
  • Don’t take things too personally. This is something that I’m still struggling with, and – quite frankly – I think it takes a while to learn.
  • Leave work at work. I CANNOT emphasize this enough! You will have a much healthier work-life balance if you leave anxieties and stress pertaining to work at the door on your way out. You work to live, you don’t live to work.
  • Take care of yourself outside of work. If you’re not at your best outside of work, there’s absolutely no way you can bring your best foot forward at work. Take at least an hour out of your day to relax and “treat yo’self”.

Not too shabby for YEAR 1! It was no easy feat, yet I’ve learned a lot about myself and grown immensely throughout the process. Obviously there is still much more to learn throughout my career, and I’m beyond excited to see what the future holds!

-K.