What does a publicist do?
Publicists communicate messages to different audiences — in our case, we promote our fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands to the Australian media and consumers.
What sparked your interest in the field?
I fell in to PR almost by accident while working at Diesel; after trying my hand in every department of the business I found my calling in PR ... I was handed the PR for Diesel, and it was sink or swim time! I developed my own PR tactics and was soon achieving increased media hits for the brand, and then I decided that if I could do that for one brand, perhaps I could handle more!
How did you come to start your own company when you were only 24?
One evening I took my parents out to dinner and announced I was starting my own PR agency! My father is an entrepreneur and I think I inherited his work ethic, and even though I was only 24 I thought ‘no time like the present’ — and luckily it paid off!
What does a typical day involve?
No two days are the same in PR; I’m up early with my daughter Pixie to spend some quality time before heading to the office at 8.30am.
Myself and the 20-strong team manage over 60 clients, so the morning is spent fielding calls, answering hundreds of emails, greeting media in our fashion showroom and pitching stories to media.
We have a courier collection of fashion samples at noon, where they deliver our products to Sydney’s top media houses — then lunch is usually grabbed at our desk while we work through more emails.
We often have meetings with clients in our designer meeting room, or we may be on a site visit for an event at a VIP location such as the Ivy.
We often have celebrities dropping in to the showroom to be dressed for events — think Ricki-Lee Coulter, Brian McFadden, Sophie Monk — and we work right up until 6pm. A PR’s work is never done!
What’s your favourite part of the job?
I love working with my team of ‘Betties’. We’re like a big family and some of my staff have been with me for nearly five years.
PR is such a fast-paced world and it’s important to have a team around you that you can trust and who have the same work ethic.
Another highlight of the job is the celebrity contacts — we’ve met everyone from Snoop Dogg and Ke$ha to Bill Clinton!
Is your first novel, Strictly Confidential, inspired by your experiences at Sweaty Betty?
Yes, various elements of the book are inspired by true events — after eight years running my own agency, I could write a whole series of books on my experiences!
What kind of person is suited to the industry?
Passionate, efficient, confident people thrive in PR — it’s very fast-paced and pressured, so you need to be able to juggle ten things at once and still complete every task to a high standard.
Plus a knowledge of fashion and current events is a must — most of our PR angles come from topical news stories and it’s vital that publicists know what’s going on in the world.
What advice would you give young people interested in pursuing this?
\Work experience is crucial. Sometimes I consider this as more important than a degree; you are thrown in at the deep end in PR and you need to be able to float!
Most PR agencies will have an internship programme so start getting experience as soon as you can. Develop great writing skills too, and soak up as much media as you can — you’ll need to know every publication from the top fashion magazines to your local weekly newspaper.
COURSE: Jacenko studied Fashion Manufacturing and Business at East Sydney TAFE, but learned everything she knows about PR on-the-job.