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The title of this post represents a general observation. But, I’ve found it to be more than a trend.
Case in point. My time at a major health care system here in Minnesota.
I was at this health care organization for two years, and during that time, I was a part of PRSA. On the board, in fact.
I also started blogging about that time. So, I would get together with people outside this health care org from time to time for coffee or lunch. We’d discuss online marketing, social media, PR, you name it. But, most of the time, the discussion would also leave me thinking. And that thinking sometimes translated into results for this health care org.
On the other hand, many of my colleagues at this health care organization were not involved with professional organizations. In fact, I could probably count the number of people who were actively involved on one hand.
Outside of a handful of people, I rarely heard of others getting together for coffee outside of this health are organization. And people almost laughed at me when I mentioned I was attending an event outside the organization.
Case in point #2. I’ve received a couple emails recently from friends introducing me to folks around town here in Minneapolis. Both these folks worked at Fortune 500 companies here in town. And both (as called out by my friends who emailed me) had admittedly small networks outside of the organizations they worked for.
And, as I think about some friends I know who work on the corporate side, the same holds true–generally. It’s not always the case, but more often time than not, the corporate folks are less networked.
On the other hand, the agency folks are everywhere. Again, generally.
You see them volunteering on committees. You see them show up in awards. You see them on Twitter. They just “show up” more often.
Now, I know some of that has to do with the fact that agency folks get paid to show up more often (or, in Curtis’ case, he’s in new business development, so literally, he gets paid to network). It just makes good business sense. In many cases, the agencies are pushing their employees to do just that (but sometimes they’re not–agency just attracts that kind of person in my opinion).
However, what would you say about the corporate folks? Why don’t they show up as much?
I have a couple theories.
First, when you’re on the corporate side, it’s easy to become insulated. You start drinking that Kool-Aid, going to meetings and next thing you know you’re rah-rah company X and nothing else matters.
At the same time, bigger companies like Target and Best Buy bring professional development TO their employees. Agencies do this, too. But, I know some big corporations make a point to keep professional development within the walls of the company.
Second, I think some of it can be attributed to outlook/attitude. Agency types tend to be a bit more transient than corporate types. How many agency folks do you know who have been with the same agency for more than 10 years? Not too many, right?
Now, go look inside the bigger orgs in your market. How many people have been in those roles for more than 10 years? A LOT more.
People go corporate because they want stability. Less crazy hours. A long-term job (even though most would argue that doesn’t exist anymore). They want a bit more control of their lives. And, as a result, they may stop networking. After all, if I have this great job at Target (just for example), why do I need to network? I already have my dream job! Say what you want, but I really think that factors in.
Again, I’m not saying ALL corporate folks are like this. But, I definitely see a trend.
That’s my two cents. What do you think? Is this really a trend? Or, am I the only one seeing this?
Note: Photo courtesy of MIMA.
This post is the third in a continuing series around what PR folks wear to work.
I started with the agency folks.
I then moved on the corporate folks.
And today, I’d like to highlight one of my favorite groups–solo PRs!
I tried to select a good mix of folks. Solos who work from home. Those who work from coffee shops. Those who rarely (if ever) see clients. And those who work from mountaintops (oh, you think I’m kidding? Read on!).
For those of you who might be considering a role in solo PR at some point down the road, I thought this might be enlightening…
I have many jobs (officially: owner and President, Scholz Communications; Pilates Instructor, Urban Body Studios; Contributing Writer, Eater Atlanta), so I’m often running from one thing to another and in and out of workout clothes, so my clothes need to be easy, stylish, and comfortable.
-tank: Tanked, Inc. , a company a friend of mine started that does novelty tanks. It’s pretty and comfortable, and I can easily throw on a blazer and make this outfit go to a meeting or night out.
-leggings: lululemon, In the Flow Crop II; Comfortable, flattering, and like wearing Spanx. This is our favorite crop of the summer.
-camisole (under tank): lululemon Power Y Tank; I own about 12 of these tanks, mostly in black. They form my base layer most days.
-tattoo, Only You Tattoo and designed by Scott Hidinger; in memory of my friend Ryan Hidinger, who died of cancer this past January. He founded The Giving Kitchen to help other restaurant industry workers in times of crisis. I am on the marketing committee for the organization. The tattoo is a great conversation piece for talking about Ryan’s legacy and TGK out in the community. Most people recognize the slogan and shield. Ryan’s late wife, Jenny, is one of my best friends and has the same tattoo.
-necklaces, Erica Sara Designs; Erica’s a great friend of mine, and my husband commissioned both of these necklaces for me. One says “breathe,” which is a great mantra for an asthmatic runner and Pilates teacher. The other says “too,” which is what my godson says when you say “I love you,” and also has our anniversary, February 27, 2009, engraved on the back.
-I like to add fun sandals to the outfit if I’m meeting friends for lunch or drinks. These were a bargain from Steve Madden on Piperlime. I think they were $29.99 on sale.
I find that in the sweltering Atlanta summers, a well-cut maxi dress is the best way to look pulled together for a work meeting, lunch, or media dinner out. This one is from Anthropologie, and I bought it at the tag sale last week for $69.99. I loved the color and the print. I usually wear neutrals–this is about as much color as I’ll wear. You can’t see the shoes, but they are these amazing Vince Camuto cut-out mules that go with everything.
Bracelets: Mostly in rose gold and gifts from friends. Rose gold studs from Bauble Bar. My engagement/wedding ring was my grandmother’s and is rose gold, so that’s my favorite metal.
Photo credit: Mary Elizabeth Kidd.
For the record, I’ve never been asked to participate in a blog about fashion and I’m sure there is a reason for that. But here goes. I’m all about efficiency. I work many hours but I love to play in the mountains. Fortunately, the trails and the mountains are out my front door. My meetings take place on Skype and Gotomeeting for the most part, so I just have to dress from the shoulders up. I might be wearing yoga pants, or bike shorts below the screen, ready for a quick break to go mountain biking or trail running.
Years ago when I worked at an agency, my wardrobe was almost completely comprised of suits and business-casual wear. I had maybe just a few casual outfits.
That all changed when I went solo. I realized one day that my suits had (mostly) been replaced by hoodies and yoga pants…
The hoodie. My version of the Power Suit.
…and my fabulous pumps had been replaced by my fabulous Adidas Slides.
Who says only Manolo-wearing practitioners can do smart digital and comms strategy? I swear my Adidas Slides make me smarter. J
After all, no need for a power suit when your office is in your house, and you don’t daily see clients. None of my clients are local. It’s possible—if I allowed it—that I could go days without seeing another person besides my husband and kids.
Thankfully, I have lots of communication tools at my disposal, not just because I work in the tech industry, but because of their prevalence in all types of workplaces. I barely go 20 minutes without talking to a colleague or vendor or advising a client on their marketing or communications strategy.
But I’m happy to do all that in my hoodie and yoga pants—sometimes in makeup, sometimes not; sometimes hair coiffed, but mostly rocking the top knot—in the comfort of my own home office.
Lest you think I forever walk around looking like a complete scrub, I do break out the suits and business-casual wear every time I travel to meet a client in person. Or if I have lunch meeting, I’ll dress up.
Here, I had a lunch meeting, so I put on my fave pair of capri jeans and paired it with a blouse and a necklace. It occurred to me that for office people, this is actually dressing down.
I just subscribe to the philosophy (or George Michael lyrics, if you please) “sometimes the clothes do not make a man.” Nor do they make the solo practitioner. I’m quite content to help clients do great marketing and PR—all in my beloved hoodie and yoga pants. J
One of the many benefits of having your own business is the freedom to create your own work environment. I worked at home, when not traveling or in the field, for 10 years before starting my own business and always “dressed for work.” On most days, no one sees me but I am not a fan of working in pajamas or sweats. I would feel weird having a phone meeting in PJs! For me, clothes put me in a work frame of mind and help me to be more productive. I’m sure we can blame this on my mother who instilled in me that you show up to work early so you get the chitchat out of the way and you dress appropriately. So if it seems rigid, blame my mother!
In the winter months, I am more casual and will wear jeans and layers, lots of layers! Moving from California to Michigan, winter is still tough for me. Most days I like to dress up jeans a bit with nice tops, blazers and cute high heeled boots but some days I’ll have a little fun and even show off my alumni school spirit.
It’s summer, I work from home, and I live in Austin, Texas. That combined: It’s difficult to leave the flip flops, aviators and jean shorts in the closest. To be completely honest, I usually work in either my PJs or my workout clothes. Once I switched from mostly media relations to mostly executive ghost writing about two years ago, my days of leaving the house for work or to meet with the press have dwindled to very few and far between. I’m also notorious for working barefoot, even before I worked from home (see the photo from my backyard—shorts, jean shirt and my one-and-only Stella & Dot splurge: a cuff bracelet).
I try to schedule lunches and coffee meetings around my “standing” appointments—monthly client meetings, Freelance Austin, and networking events—to make the best use of my non-writing time. I’ll often find myself with downtime between gigs on those days, so even my professional wardrobe needs to be comfortable and versatile enough for a few hours of coffeehouse working. Here, I had back-to-back lunch and coffee meetings and arrived dressed head to toe in my new favorite neutral: navy (the shirt is from Nordstrom Rack, the pants from Target, and the shoes are amazingly comfortable Anne Klein kitten heels. Oh, and the Louis Vuitton? It’s a cherished gift from my mother-in-law. It actually fits my Windows Surface Pro, old-school notebook and regular purse junk…with room to spare.
A few things about summer dressing for business in Austin: First, you won’t see panty hose on any business woman (any time of year, actually). Even a skirt suit is worn with bare legs. Second (and this is gross, but it’s important to point out), arm pit sweat gets really real, really quickly around here. Never attempt to wear a silk blouse in the middle of summer. By the time you arrive to your downtown lunch appointment from your car parked four blocks away, your pit stains will be as big as all hell and half of Texas.
So, here’s the thing: I work alone.
Not just “no coworkers,” but also: No chamber mixers. No PRSA luncheons. No annual confabs. And no clients so local that a lunch meeting doesn’t trigger a day rate.
Heck, half of my clients have never met me face to face. And that’s just fine.
All of this is… well, freeing when it comes to my work wardrobe.
The laundry pile splits two ways:
Clothes for winning the work and the occasional (shudder!) on-site meeting: If I’m in person, I’m in a suit. Not an unstructured suit; not a blazer-and-jeans junior creative’s version of a suit. A by-God adult suit, custom made and probably in a small glen plaid pattern with a checked or striped shirt from TM Lewin or Charles Tyrwhitt. There will be cufflinks and a leather barrister satchel I picked up in Dublin many years ago.
I might notch the suit down by ditching the tie, but no more than that. None of my clients are small orgs or edgy start-ups, and I’m typically hired by the CEO – looking like money reinforces their (frankly brilliant) decision to retain my services. You know this already, but: Shoes matter. Own good ones.
Clothes for doing the work: Two subsets here, pre-shower and post-shower. Because the day doesn’t start with a shower.
Most mornings, barring illness or a poorly timed conference call, it starts with a hot dog and a Double Big Gulp of Diet Coke while I sort through email. Then I can worry about a shower.
The minimart doesn’t question whatever I slap on to go visit them; in turn, I do not question their health-inspection reports. We’re lovers who don’t talk about whoever is back at home.
Post hot dog, I’m probably in a Tommy Bahama silk camp shirt with a tropical-eyebleed pattern and paired with no-name khakis – maybe yesterday’s no-name khakis. If I’m wearing socks, they’re ridiculous. Which is why I don’t wear them much.
I live in Las Vegas, so the latter work ensemble doubles as a life outfit. Around here, you can go anywhere – from the most expensive show to the skeeviest dive bar (‘Sup, Frankie’s Tiki Room!) – in a tropical shirt.
My taste in clothes didn’t play as well when I lived in small-town Missouri. That doesn’t mean I changed anything.
Arik asked me to mention that I also have a smoking jacket. This is irrelevant except it was, along with a monocle, a gift from some PR colleagues who thought I needed both items. It adds an authoritative look to my driver’s license photo and has become my go-to clothing item when work friends come to town for drinks.
You know how when you meet someone for the first time and you just know they’re going to go big places in life?
That’s how I felt when I met Laura Fitzpatrick the first time.
In fact, I’m guessing that’s how many people feel when they meet the brand sociologist from Carmichael Lynch.
At the ripe old age of 24 (I’m guessing), Laura has already spent time at some of the biggest agencies in town, played a lead role in AdFed2, won numerous awards (including being listed as one of the #32Under32 recently) emceed one of the best events in town (Ignite), and plays comedian at Bryant-Lake Bowl every so often.
Most people in their mid 30s don’t have that diverse a resume.
And it’s exactly why, when you meet Laura, you get that feeling. This woman is going places.
Let’s hear the rest from her…
I‘d say the secret is that you have to find the secret for you. There is no one path to getting where you want to go. I used to think if I followed what “so and so” did I would get to where “so and so” is, but I am a different person than “so and so”. The best way to move in any direction at an agency is to forge your own way. “Making it” looks different to everyone (great article–get over that the source is Glamour Magazine–here directed at women), but advice applicable to both genders, figure out what it is for you. In the end if you find the areas where your passion and skills intersect and you’ll head in the right direction.
We search for insights and ideas across culture, category, audience, brand, and media to find the creative opportunity for any given project and/or brand. We help to make sure campaigns are created with messages and across platforms that will resonate with the intended target audience. Sometimes we do this by social listening, sometimes we do this by focus groups and surveys, and sometimes we get to go out and observe/talk to the consumers (my favorite).
Volunteering, freelancing, etc. gives you the opportunity to try things you don’t get to do at work or to build on skills you already have or want to have. It helps you become a more well-rounded worker with an understanding of areas beyond just yours. You have more experiences to pull from and you get to meet some incredible people (cough cough Arik Hanson) who can teach you new things.
I could write a book on this. Improv has not only contributed to my creativity at work, but has also enhanced so many aspects of my personal life. Improv isn’t about comedy— at its core it’s about reacting, listening, being focused and present. It has helped me think on my feet, jump in to conversations and know when to do so, adapt to things I wasn’t expecting, let go of control, and so much more. I highly recommend that if you’re a human, you try improv. (Recommending Brave New Workshop & HUGE Theatre classes— anyone is welcome to ask me how to get started). Learning to be comfortable with vulnerability helps you become a less fearful, more confident and creative human being.
Be nice to everybody— people are incredible as is their support.
Love what you do— you can’t fake passion & sincerity so find a place where you wholeheartedly enjoy yourself day in, day out.
As someone who has always loved public speaking I love that Ignite gives anyone the chance to face their fear of public speaking (a fear of an unreasonably large amount of people). I get to see other people discover the fulfillment and incomparable adrenaline that comes from jumping in. Unlike other more formal events, Ignite puts no creative barriers on what you can talk about. Your purpose can be to inform, enlighten, entertain, or all three. Ignite is the chance for anyone to talk about anything from Bollywood to Beards of the Presidents to Types of Profile Pictures. I enjoy seeing others conquer a fear, get on a stage, and out of their comfort zone— nothing cooler than that.
I feel very fortunate to have worked for some really rad places. From my perspective the big agencies have offered me the chance to work with big clients willing to do big things. I’ve had the chance to meet a comedian I admire, brainstorm campaign ideas with a professional snowboarder, fly out to Google for Project Glass, do some undercover research and have lunch with one of my favorite authors (and brain crush), Simon Sinek. And none of those things even compares to the talent I’ve had the chance to work with every day. I’ve never worked at any agency smaller than 200 so I really have nothing to compare it to. As far as advice I would say never let size intimidate you— still try and get to know everyone. When I started at my first agency gig I started taking people in different departments out to lunch to learn about them, their role, and how I could best help them.
Ha. I think that is still being determined. As I said in my first answer, advice is overrated and you have to find what works for you.
Here are a few things I look to:
Book suggestions: The Power of Habit, Start With Why, Bossypants, Damn Good Advice, ALL Malcolm Gladwell books, and The Alchemist.