Just a few weeks ago, our team celebrated a big business milestone — our one-year anniversary! In celebration of this anniversary, we’ve been doing a little reminiscing around the digital office about both The New Fashioned Co’s beginning and each one of our team members’ individual journeys that led them to TNFC. To give you a peek inside, here’s a little peek at our founder and CEO Kristin Carver Smith’s journey, inspiration for starting TNFC and advice she has to other communications and PR professionals.
How did you end up in PR? When did you know it’s what you wanted to do?
You’ll laugh at this but at one point, I wanted to be a marine biologist. I wanted to study sharks. I guess that’s what obsessively watching Shark Week each year will do to you.
Exploring a career as a publicist never crossed my mind until my junior year of college. I was really wrestling with what I was going to do and become. I kept thinking about all the things that I loved: conversations, storytelling, words, messaging, news and public information. When I discovered that majoring in public relations would encapsulate all of these things, I changed my major and fell in love.
But I’d be lying if I said college prepared me for being a publicist. It did to some extent—I strengthened my writing and pitching skills—but I wasn’t prepared for how often I’d hear “no” or worse, total silence. I used to get so anxious when I didn’t hear back from a reporter or producer and would take it to heart. These days, I understand that there is a myriad of things at play. Journalists are having to do more with less. Their inboxes are overflowing with pitches from hundreds of people just like me. They’ve got tight deadlines to meet, not to mention navigating an ever-changing landscape just like the rest of us. I have such an appreciation for what my media friends do each and every day.
What is the most rewarding part of being a PR professional?
When you see a segment air that you pitched or concepted… An opinion editorial published that you helped craft or edit… A partnership that you negotiated finally announced… It’s all the things behind the scenes that most folks don’t even know you played a part in, but your client and your team do. And my favorite part? Making client dreams come true by landing them in the media, on the stages, and in collaboration with the partners of their dreams.
What inspired you to start The New Fashioned Co?
They say you create what you need and I’d say that rings true for The New Fashioned Co. I started The New Fashioned Co. because I was frustrated. I wanted to see more diverse representation in story sources in the media, on stages and in brand collaborations. I constantly came across bold ideas and brave voices that were doing paradigm-shifting and world-changing work, yet weren’t getting the exposure (and compensation!) that they deserved because they lacked an advocate. I wanted The New Fashioned Co. to be that advocate. I also wanted to create a company that constantly reimagined what exposure looks like… that pushed its team members and clients to embody the new fashioned in everything it said, recommended and did.
Embodying “new fashioned” is probably some of the hardest work I’ve had to do. It stretches me personally and professionally because it requires me to constantly ask the question: Is this decision or action being informed by old-fashioned mentalities, approaches or beliefs? The New Fashioned Co. is so much more than a company for me. It’s an attitude, an approach, a mindset and a mission.
What are some goals you have for TNFC?
We set out to become the go-to brand partner for bold ideas and brave voices. And that’s a goal we’ll never stop striving to accomplish. We’re also working each and every day to ensure our clients are being compensated well for their star power. We know that these individuals pour those dollars back into their teams, communities and causes that move this world forward and therefore, we are constantly negotiating for top dollar and top exposure to make that happen.
What is your routine to being mentally prepared to take on the day?
My faith is my anchor. Each day, I wake up and spend time in God’s Word and praying for divine downloads, divine connections, and divine doors to be opened. I have such a peace that each day will bring exactly what God has intended for me if I’m willing to be open, compassionate, humble and hungry.
Give some key advice to those wanting to pursue PR.
You’ll write all day, every day in PR so if you don’t enjoy it, I’d recommend another career path. Honestly. So that said, my best advice for anyone wanting to pursue a career in public relations is to hone your writing skills and exercise your creativity muscle each day.
What is a common misconception that people have about PR?
That it’s glamorous and full of red carpets, backstage passes, parties and celebrities. While it can be those things, 95% of PR is writing, getting crickets from press, racking your brain for pitch angles and then having a solo dance party when you do finally get a “yes” from media.
What are some things you have learned along the way or challenges you have experienced?
People tell me “no” every day. But I’m constantly prepared to pivot when I hear it. I’ve learned how to keep the door ajar when I get a “no” instead of letting the door slam shut. All of the best publicists and brand managers I know do this incredibly well.
What are some skills that every PR pro should possess?
Be an excellent writer. That’s top of my list. While this isn’t a skill per se, it’s a habit that every PR pro should have: consuming the news. You can’t make the news if you don’t consume it. PR pros are also strategic and they think through all the various angles and aspects of a story (good and bad).
What are some of your favorite PR tools?
Cision for looking up contacts. Streak for seeing who has viewed my pitches and when. Google Docs for editing opinion editorials with clients in real time or collaborating with our team members on pitch angles.
What is something you wish you did differently in college?
I wish I would have minored in journalism. I minored in business and could have used more writing experience.
What advice do you have for college students?
Ask questions. Volunteer for every writing opportunity you can get and have English, Journalism and PR professors read, edit and give you feedback on as much of it as possible. Also, look for opportunities to practice pitching. Whether it’s pitching yourself, a project or a story, actively seek out opportunities that will help you become more confident pitching. No matter what career path you choose or go down, you’ll inevitably pitch something and you need to know how to do it well!
Any work-life balance tips?
Being in PR in the 21st century means you’re subject to a 24/7 news cycle. It can be hard to find balance and turn off your brain, especially because you’re privy to how the sauce gets made so to speak. For me, when I’m with my husband or my loved ones, I’ll place my phone face down and out of reach so that I can be fully present and there for them. That time is so precious and no matter how chaotic things can get, the world really will be okay if you’re away for a few hours (or days!).