It’s been a few Fridays since our last former student feature, but let’s get right to it with Ms. Kelly Howard, PR maven and fashionista! (She’s an Iowa State — and Metzler — alum.)
What do you do for work?
I currently oversee consumer fashion, beauty and lifestyle in the LA office of Post+Beam, an innovation + communication firm doing brand and digital/mobile marketing initiatives with some of the top names in fashion, beauty and specialty retail. As Director, I play a key role in new business development, as well as execution of media, social media and event programs for a diverse client roster.
As the media has changed, so has my role…and it’s ever-changing, more quickly now than ever. For example, five years ago, Instagram was just beginning – now it’s a key part of our communication strategy, especially with fashion brands. It’s important to always stay on top of what’s trending, what’s new in the industry, and paying attention to how your audience likes to engage and receive content.
Every day of my job is truly unique, and having the opportunity to work with a variety of clients, create PR and marketing strategies that work for their business, and see how our work ultimately contributes to their bottom line is something I never get tired of.
What do you do for play or enrichment?
Los Angeles is a truly wonderful place to live, and I never get tired of looking at the ocean. A day at the beach or a drive up PCH is always a great way to enrich the senses.
I also strive to always be reading something. I love reading The Skimm every morning to get my news, the latest NY Times Bestseller, or fun websites that cater to everything from food, to fashion, to fitness.
And last but not least, I love to exercise. Spin class, yoga or a session with my trainer is always a great release in the middle of a stressful work week.
How did you prepare for your career/life so far (through college or otherwise)?
Whether through college or high school, I really tried to get my hands in as many things as possible – I hoped the experiences would make me a more well-rounded individual and would give me a look at how others liked to do things.
While I was attending college at Iowa State University, my first internship was with Alan Taylor Public Relations in New York. I was put on the Diageo Liquors account team, pitching a variety of accounts including Smirnoff, Guinness and Jose Cuervo. One of the great things I learned was the art of pitching – not only through email, but also cold calling, and even faxing.
After college, my very first position was as the PR Manager for the Iowa State Daily, the campus newspaper at Iowa State. I started as a member of the department during school, then stayed on to lead the students post-graduation. I had the opportunity to be involved in the development of some truly grassroots campaigns and initiatives that still exist today.
After my time at the Daily, I made the move to LA for my first job in fashion PR with a small, boutique agency. It was there I learned an incredible amount about the ins and outs of pitching and what it takes to elevate a small brand in the eyes of the press.
What are you proud of?
I feel truly blessed every single day for what I’ve accomplished, out here in LA and otherwise. I was just back at Iowa State this past weekend and had the opportunity to speak to a PR class there, as well as stop by The Daily offices. To see everything I did during my college years come back full circle has been truly rewarding.
On the professional front, I’ve had the opportunity to be apart of some really amazing initiatives, including planning Fashion’s Night Out LA for the City of LA in 2012. It was a massive event, and seeing nine months of planning come together into a one-night celebration was amazing.
Overall, I’ve loved the opportunity to mentor as well as learn from those around me, continue to make a difference in clients’ business goals, and work with a really great team.
What advice do you have for younger people as they prepare to launch themselves into the adult world?
Be willing to put in the work. The real world can often look shiny and glamorous from the outside, but the truth is, it takes hard work, resilience and a thick skin.
Driving through my college campus this past week, I had the thought – “I had no idea how easy I had it then.” Take advantage of your college years. They’re truly some of the best, and don’t miss out an opportunity to learn something new!
When entering into the work world and looking for your first real job, make sure you have enthusiasm, you know how to effectively communicate…and have common sense. You’d be surprised how far the last one will take you. And take advantage of EVERY opportunity, no matter how small, especially in an internship setting. For every task you’re given, no matter how mundane, take it upon yourself to understand the meaning and how it contributes to the bigger picture.
Lastly, find a mentor! Mentors are a great opportunity to learn and be inspired.