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How She Got There: Kelly Howard, LA Director of Post+Beam

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Name: Kelly Howard
Job Title and Description: Director. Oversee consumer fashion, beauty and lifestyle in the Los Angeles office of Post+Beam.
College Name/Major: Iowa State University, Journalism/Mass Communications
Website: www.postandbeam.is
Twitter Handle: @post_beam and @kellylynn33

 What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?

Kelly Howard: I currently oversee consumer fashion, beauty and lifestyle in the LA office of Post+Beam, playing a key role in new business development and execution of media, social media and event programs for a diverse client roster. A typical day includes working with the media, talking to clients, brainstorming new initiatives, but truthfully no two days are the same—that’s what makes it exciting!

What is the best part of your job?

KH: Having the opportunity to work with such great clients, creating PR strategies that work for their business, as well as working with a great team that inspires and challenges me to do my best.

What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?

KH: 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! I got the job by cold-calling the company and asking for the internship coordinator (and was later told by having a well-designed resume).

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.

What is one thing you wish you knew about your industry when you first started out that you know now?

KH: How quickly it can change. Just looking at the PR landscape five years ago (think pre-bloggers and pre-Instagram) planning effective strategies and programs for your clients is a constantly evolving process. You always have to be paying attention to what’s new and what’s next.

Who is one person who changed your professional life for the better?

KH: My first boss in LA. She was tough and didn’t sugarcoat a thing, but she was a great teacher. I learned a tremendous amount from her and credit her for grooming me into a great publicist.
 
What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?

KH: Always be reading something. Whether it’s the news, a magazine or the latest NY Times Best Seller, seasoned publicist Marci Blaze once told me that in order to stay relevant, keep yourself informed of what’s going on in the world around you.

What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?

KH: Overselling what you can do to please a client—learning that you always need to manage expectations from the start, because if you don’t, you set everyone, including yourself, up for failure.

What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?

KH: It’s a tie. The first is Fashion’s Night Out LA 2012—I was in charge of planning FNOLA for the City of LA and seeing nine months of planning come together into a one-night celebration was amazing. Plus the energy you felt in LA that night was unreal.

The second was jumping out of a plane as part of a PR stunt. I was with seven other women; two of them were my clients. The jump was filmed on-site by Inside Edition and was picked up online by everyone including The Huffington Post and Good Morning America. Okay, so maybe that one wins.

What do you look for when considering hiring someone?

KH: Drive and a love for what you do.

What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?

KH: Be willing to put in the work. The life of a publicist can often look shiny and glamorous from the outside, but the truth is, it takes hard work, resilience and a thick skin. 

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