Kim on the Tough Side of PR and Kimora's OK! Debacle
Public relations looks like a lot of fun, but it's not the easiest job in the world! The proof is in the drama on Kimora: House of Fab, when incidents like the OK! magazine interview debacle. Luckily, PR guru Kim Tobman knows the ins and outs of the business, so she's sharing her secrets for getting through tough moments, plus her take on how the OK! shoot really went.
How did you get into public relations?
I fell into it more than anything. I worked in the entertainment industry for several years and decided to take a step out and try my hand at PR and events, and it turned out to be a great fit. I was a communications major at USC and always enjoyed writing. As I learned more about PR, I found I had a knack for strategy and media relations.
What are the best and worst parts about working in PR?
The best part is the fact that I never have a dull moment. One morning, I think I will be spending my day writing press releases and pitching the media, but I get to the office and we need to rush 15 pairs of shoes to New York, I get an interview request for Don and Adam, Kimora is planning an appearance in New York City and I need to book a flight to join her in a week. I never have the same day twice with this job! The worst part is that there are no guarantees in PR. I can send product, write a great press release and pitch my heart out, but at the end of the day, whether we make it into a magazine or onto a TV show is at the mercy of the editor and producer.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to get into the field?
Most people think of PR and publicity as a lot of parties, celebrities and fun nights out. While I enjoy my job, it is rarely about hitting the hottest nightclubs. If you really want to succeed in the PR and communications worlds, you need to see outside of the Hollywood box. You need to be able to craft a well-written press release, put a launch strategy together, cold call an editor you have never spoken to before, present your ideas to the CEOs of your company or other companies and be prepared for a call at 5 a.m., because it's 8 a.m. somewhere else and a producer needs more information before a story goes to air. PR isn't brain surgery, but it isn't a picnic either.
What's the craziest thing that's happened to you in this industry?
Every day is filled with a little bit of crazy! It is hard to pick a single moment that stands out, but for the first event we ever did with Kimora at JustFab, she wanted to get a massive flower shoe as the "centerpiece" of the event—and for it to float in a pool. The concept alone seemed a little crazy and quite overwhelming—how do you make a six-foot pink shoe made of flowers float in a pool?! That said, we actually did it—and it was kind of amazing. It was the Rose Parade-meets-fabulosity-meets-Hollywood glam!
Where did the idea for a JustFab viral video come from?
Social media and PR are very tightly connected. You have to be creative in order to make your brand stand out. Social media isn't just about throwing up a Facebook page—you have to nurture your "fans" and find ways to entice them and customers to join the conversation. The goal with the viral video contest was to create something fun, different and engaging that people would want to share with their friends and to create buzz for the brand. We have so many creative people at this company that it was a no-brainer to open it up to the whole group. Hopefully we found a winning concept that will actually go viral!
During her OK! interview, Kimora walked out to compose herself after the reporter asked her to comment on the rumor "that she goes both ways." How do you deal with surprising situations like that?
It is my job to be prepared for the worst in every situation. I can't always anticipate what kind of crazy questions we'll get from reporters, but I can prep to help shift the conversation to a topic that is more appropriate to what we are trying to promote. The good thing about this particular interview was that both Kimora and I have worked with Shauna from OK! many times, so we had a great relationship with her going into the interview. When she asked the "personal question," I immediately jumped in to try and steer the conversation back to JustFab, but Kimora handled the question with great grace and diplomacy. Crisis averted!
How do you feel about the OK! shoot and interview in the end?
I was thrilled with the way the shoot went! We got two whole pages from that interview and photo shoot! That is a big deal. Kimora looked and sounded great, and our product was featured in the story. I couldn't have asked for anything more.