PR Rising Star is an interview series from MediaHQ that talks to up-and-coming PR professionals. It looks into why they decided to follow a career in PR, their predictions for the future of the industry and their favourite book of the last year.
Chloe McDonnell is a PR & Social Media Executive at Sales Cosmetics. Chloe studied Communications in DCU and landed the role of Trade Marketing Intern for CPD Cosmetics in L'Oreal after working at beauty counters throughout college.
Chloe then progressed to PR & Retail Social Media Assistant for L'Oreal Luxe and in January 2021, joined Sales Cosmetics, where she currently works.
In this piece, Chloe talks about how she began her career in PR, discusses the lasting change she would make to the industry and gives her binge watch recommendation.
Why did you decide to follow a career in PR?
I was unsure of my career path when I began studying Communications in DCU. I picked the course because I knew it was broad and would give me options. I explored my options, including radio presenting and marketing but nothing ever felt like the right fit until I landed my first role in Public Relations.
It was when I worked in L'Oreal that I really decided that it was the career for me. I started off working in Trade Marketing for a year and a half but always had my eye on the Communications department and did my best to learn the ins and outs of it from afar. It genuinely excited me. The more I learned about the industry, the more I wanted to be involved. I was lucky to be able to gain some experience by attending PR events and helping out with different campaigns and my gut instinct led me to choose a career in PR.
Specifically, tell us about your route into working in the PR industry?
My route into the PR industry wasn't straight forward. I got a marketing internship in the DCU marketing department during my final year of Communications which involved running all of the Universities social media channels and creating content for them. After a year of doing this part-time, I successfully interviewed for the role of Trade Marketing Intern for CPD Cosmetics in L'Oreal.
When my internship came to a close, I was eager to stay within the company but move into a PR role. I spoke with the Head of Communications and luckily there was a short term role available so I became the PR & Retail Social Media Assistant for L'Oreal Luxe. This was a crash course in everything I needed to know about beauty PR and I learned so much from my manager, Róisín Tierney-Crowe.
In January 2021, I landed my current role as PR & Social Media Executive for Sales Cosmetics Ltd. I definitely had to seek out and gain a lot of valuable experience to get here. I believe every role is a stepping stone to something bigger and it's what you make of your experience that will get you where you need to be.
What is your favourite thing about working in PR?
I really enjoy communicating with people and building a brand community. I've worked in the beauty industry for a while now and I love creating a community of beauty lovers, sending them products and press releases and getting them excited about our business.
I also love working on our social media accounts. It’s brilliant to be able to speak to beauty influencers and collaborate with them to spread the messages of our brand. I love the chance to be creative, whether it’s coming up with mailer ideas, new product launch events or creating content for social media.
If you could make a lasting change in the PR industry, what would it be?
I would like to inject fun into the PR industry! I think we've definitely missed out on live events over the past two years and I think they're very important, especially within beauty PR. Being able to come together and get excited about new products and campaigns is a really important thing for beauty lovers. I would also like to make it less exclusive.
Social media followers have become a huge factor in PR, for good reason, however I think events which include all kinds of beauty lovers would be really special and a very positive thing for beauty businesses. I speak to a lot of beauty lovers through the essence and Catrice cosmetics social media channels and our business would not run without them, so I think it's important to make everyone feel special and not just the influencers with plus 10k followers.
Name one person who has influenced your career and tell us why.
Head of Communications L'Oreal, Róisín Tierney-Crowe. She gave me my first chance to prove myself in the PR industry. Even though I only worked with her for a few months, she made sure I left that role with all the knowledge I would need to succeed going forward.
Nothing was ever sugar-coated with her and she always meant business. I appreciated her strong attitude and determination to succeed. She trusted me to handle my own projects and gave me a lot of responsibility.
Tell us about a campaign or piece of work that you’ve worked on that you are proud of.
Christmas time in PR is always something I can be proud of because it's so demanding and is such an important part of the business. Christmas is always jam-packed with sending out gift ideas, influencer collaborations, party night out ideas, competitions, events and so much more.
This year we sent our influencers personalised stockings sourced from an Irish business full of makeup goodies and the coverage was brilliant.
Finish this sentence. “The best way to connect your story to your audience is by…”
Having fun and being creative, showing them something they haven't seen before!
What is your favourite hobby?
It's always been dance, I've been doing ballet and other styles of dance since I was four. Although recently I've started yoga and have been enjoying it.
What is the best book that you have read in the last year?
Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton.
What is your binge watch recommendation?
RuPauls Drag Race, I need something silly to help my mind switch off.
Name three trends that you think will be important in the PR industry in the next 5 years.
Video Content. TikTok has blown up recently and I think it's a more creative way to communicate with your audience than a static image.
Creative mailers. I've found that creative mailers perform so much better than an average press package. Influencers want to be excited about the products and if the package looks more 'instagrammable' they'll be more likely to post it and rave about it. Anything personalised is a win!
Live events. We're all itching to experience PR in person again and talk to others in our industry. The beauty PR industry has definitely missed live events, being able to see and feel new products, talk to experts and meet beauty influencers and fans in the community.
Which social media site is the most important to you and why?
Instagram. In my current role, it's how I interact with our community by commenting on posts, giving helpful beauty tips, responding to messages and having fun with content. It's the best way for us to spread product news and campaign activity.
Name one staple of the PR industry that you think will die out in the next five years.
Print has become increasingly less important for our business. I think ezines will be much more important for the PR industry going forward.
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