If you saw the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show from 2006 to 2014, there’s a good chance you experienced first-hand the work of brand manager/PR master Lauren Cutillo Kinnear. She’s since departed the megabrand, but has by no means slowed down. After departing in 2014, Lauren launched her own public relations and event management consultancy called LOLO PR & Events. Lauren was kind enough to indulge me in a Q&A chat about career successes, advice for PR pros, and the challenges of striking out on your own.
Tell us a little about your journey into PR and LOLO PR & Events
I’ve been working in the public relations field for the last 12 years. I started as an intern at Victoria’s Secret in Columbus and never left the business. I was with them for about 9 years. I worked intimately on the fashion show which was media and press facing, in a supermodel-facing position. It was so interesting and fast pace. I was able to be exposed to awesome people, places and events year after year. Two years ago I left to start my own PR consulting business. My background at Victoria’s Secret equipped me to go out on my own. My clients now range from fashion, food and beverage, and philanthropic. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the people in my community in Columbus.
What made you want to go independent?
It just felt like the right time! I needed a bit more balance and I didn’t see that able to be achieved in the space that I was in. I wanted to challenge myself. I loved the travel part of working for Victoria’s Secret, but it was really intense.
Why PR and events?
Initially out of college, I followed what I like. I loved fashion but I definitely didn’t want to go into design work, but the business side of things was really interesting to me. I worked through a few internships in college, including one at VS, and even while I was there, my interests and job evolved. There are always ways to layer in influencers, change markers and traditional PR. Events are collaborative and I enjoy working with my clients in that manner.
Biggest challenges and triumphs in launching your own business?
The highs are very high, and the lows are times you hold on to the highs. I focus on corporate events. Landing on big accounts and working with awesome clients are definite highs. The relationships I’ve been able to form in PR and event planning—you get to know your clients well which I’ve enjoyed. Doing this on my own has been trial and error so I’m always learning from my mistakes. At a widely known and popular international brand, and an event like the fashion show, press coverage wasn’t a challenge. Transitioning from national and international press levels and moving to a more concentrated market has been a challenge, but all of my PR background has been applicable and helped me find creative solutions.
What or who inspires you?
I really try to expand my interests and get out of my “every day”, whether taking a class or going to museums, or traveling a lot. You’ll never invest better time or money than in travel! Working with my charitable clients always inspires me—the work they’re doing is incredible, and being a small part of what they are doing is great.
Coolest or most fun project that you’ve worked on to date?
The fashion show year after year, and the level I got to be involved in it definitely stand out. Though not a project per se, landing my first clients in Columbus, and working for organizations like Dress for Success and Pelotonia have been incredible memories. It’s an honor to be a part of things going on in the larger community.
Advice for #BossBabes?
Never stop learning! Continuing education should be a priority no matter your experience level! Technology is always changing, especially in PR, and being knowledgeable about all the ways to expose a brand or client is so important. The industry is always evolving.
Any advice for PR professions looking to get into a competitive market?
Experience. Even as an undergrad in college, be involved! Volunteering and getting to know people will always be useful. Paid or not, experience is priceless and it stands out when you go to interview. Beyond taking classes, showing extra effort.
It’s not only fulfilling on a personal level but it’s a great way to get your foot in the door somewhere. There is always a way to show your talents and leaders of nonprofits are often leaders in the community. Follow up skills are essential. Make sure that you’re staying current with your contacts and don’t be afraid to be persistent when you’re going after an opportunity you really want!
You can catch more of Lauren on Facebook or Twitter at @laurencutillo or at loloco.net.