Date Posted: Thursday 9th February 2017
Kate began her PR career in 2003 in Toronto working at Canada’s leading agency specialising in Marketing & Communications directed at women. She moved to London in 2007 where she worked as Account Director for Wizard Publicity, beginning her career in beauty. Kate went on to join Estée Lauder Companies in 2012, and in 2016 was appointed PR & Communications Director for NARS in the UK and Ireland.
Give us a breakdown of a typical working day?
It is no secret that I am 18 months into a big renovation project, so my day inevitably begins and ends with builders. Working at NARS, where we dress in black most days means this is no mean feat trying to get out of the house avoiding the dust. My favourite part of my morning now is doing my makeup – I love getting to play with all of our new products and formulas. Working with our UK Ambassador Andrew Gallimore I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks that make getting out of the house looking half-decent a lot easier (and more fun).
Most mornings I will have a breakfast meeting - usually at Berner’s Tavern as the food is great and it’s so close to the NARS offices. As soon as I’m back in the office I always make time for a quick catch up with my team and then start the day.
What I love about my job is that really no day is the same. On any given day, I could be working on our brand’s 3-year strategy, planning an event, going to a shoot, liaising with our team in New York about our presence at fashion week, pitching a feature or going through budgets with our finance team. On many days, it’s all of those things.
In the evenings, I will either have a dinner with press, or I will head to the gym. I am obsessed with Barry’s Bootcamp – loud music and a lot of sweat is the greatest stress reliever! After that, I’ll meet my husband for something to eat – I rarely make it home before 9pm. I usually spend a bit of time before bed responding to e-mails with the team in New York to get around the time difference.
The goal for some PRs seems to be ending up in-house, but did you find your time in agencies invaluable?
I started my career working at an agency and wouldn’t change that experience for the world. I personally think nothing is a better foundation for building a career in PR than working across multiple brands. You get insights into different businesses and have the opportunity to learn different ways of working, as each brand has its own identity and goals. I’ve had many interns say to me that they only want to work in house, and I always tell them that working in an agency is such a great fast-track to learning the ins and outs of PR. What I love about working in-house is that when you are working directly for the brand you have the scope to impact your brand in ways outside of purely communications, and of course seeing the impact the features or projects I’ve worked on have on the business! In my job I’m constantly learning new things from my colleagues in different departments, and I love that at NARS I get the chance to work with some amazing creative minds.
How are you finding the role of the PR changing with the rise of influencers & decline of print?
To me, the role of PR remains the same – our job is to create buzz and excitement around our brand and to share its story with consumers. The more places there are to tell those stories, the better – be that in print, with influencers, or communication coming directly from the brand itself. I see it less as a rise of one and decline of another, and more as an exciting time because there are so many more opportunities.
Biggest mistake you've made work-wise & learnt from?
The biggest thing I’ve learnt is whenever I’ve made a big mistake that it’s best to be honest and take responsibility. I think people respect you a lot more for it and get over it quickly; there is nothing worse than trying to deflect blame.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
Never burn bridges. Our industry is small, so you inevitably cross paths with people again! Also, try to find an industry you are passionate about – it makes the long hours feel much more rewarding.
How do you switch off?
How I tend to relax is two totally different sides of the spectrum; it's either lots of exercise, terrible reality TV or going out dancing. My husband is a DJ so if I feel like I need a night out, I tag along with him.
Where’s your favourite location/hidden gem in London?
My new neighbourhood, Peckham! There is so much going on there and it has such a sense of community. My favourite discovery is pasta at Forza Win, or Pizza at Mamma Dough. Kurobuta in Marble Arch is one of my all-time favourites…I have dreams about the Sashimi Pizza.
Kate Langan in 'PR contacts'
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