Celebrating the 10th birthday of her PR agency SILK Relations, we met Kerstin in her Berlin office to have a coffee, check out the latest fashion collection and chat about the industry and her successful career path (we also have to admit that we were pretty tempted to steal one of her Bobby Kolade suits – the sexiest business outfit we have seen in a while)
Together with her business partner Silke, Kerstin is well known as one of the major kick-ass power girls in the industry. Brands like Levis, Asos and Uniqlo have relied on her PR skills for more than 10 years. This is definitely reason enough to talk to her about what girls need to become as successful as her, how she managed to get where she is today, and what working in the industry is like.
How does a day in the life of a PR girl look? What is your typical work schedule?
My workday usually starts at around 8.30am. While checking and answering the first emails, I always have a BIG double-shot flat white in the morning and enjoy the calm before the storm. The rest of the team drifts in around 9.30am. No day is like any other when working in PR, but most of my work days include meetings, team-briefings, showroom appointments and calls. Working closely together with our controlling department is also part of my job as the managing director of SILK. Working in PR also includes going to events, so that’s how I spend most of my evenings (most of the events are organised by SILK).
All the business trips are another huge benefit of working in PR – I spend a few days a month travelling to London, Stockholm, Paris or Tokyo, for example.
What is the best part about working in PR? What is the most challenging?
As I used to be an ad writer before starting in PR, I like that my job includes a lot of writing. In PR, the writing occurs in direct communication through various channels and with different people: communicating with journalists, stylists, designers, photographers, blogger, artists… every meeting is different, every day involves meeting new, interesting people. How can you not love such a job?
The unpredictable nature of PR is what makes it challenging and sometimes very nerve-wracking. In classic communication, you place an ad and you know exactly when and where it will be displayed, whereas in PR you pitch content and no matter how well you do your job, it is always likely that an external, unpredictable factor will change everything.
What is your definition of success?
I am lucky enough I have found a job I love, which is my definition of success. Me and my business partner have 25 people working at SILK. We love our jobs and celebrate 10 years of SILK this year.
What obstacles have you faced during 10 years of SILK Relations and how were you able to overcome them?
10 years ago, besides classic PR work, events were the main pillar. Around 5 years ago social media suddenly became a big thing and everyone shifted their budget from live communication to social media communication. Gaining foothold in this new market, as well as keeping up the events, was a challenge. However, this opened up new forms of communication for us, such as events for bloggers.
What is your power outfit?
I have always loved playing around with fashion (however this sometimes meant that I was just happy to get home and changed). My power outfit is jeans or skinny suit trousers, blouses, comfy shoes and a nonchalant coat. Statement jewellery and a strong colour lipstick adds some extra power to it.
How have the requirements of someone working in PR changed in recent years?
Curiosity, interlaced thinking, multi tasking skills, accuracy, high and fast work intensity, and interest in new media are all essential key requirements. 10 years ago you needed one address book, nowadays you’ll need 3. PR has become so much more small-scale because of new media, and more intense on a personal level.
Can you name key skills a girl working in PR needs?
Excellent expression in both German and English, as well as the ability to deal with all kinds of information are the basic skills everyone needs. The overall term is emotional intelligence. You have to be able to quickly engage with people to build up business relationships. A grasp of trends is what differentiates a good from an excellent PR manager. Also, being able to offer content in a creative way, mastering small talk and being able to remember faces and names. And most important: doing all of this with a certain ease. There is nothing worse than doggedness!
Public Relations firms see tons of applications and resumes on a regular basis. How can an applicant stand out from the competition?
Eloquence, self-confidence, individuality, willingness to put in effort and 100% sympathy.
What is the most important thing you have learned in all your years in the industry?
Trust is good, contracts are better.
What kind of projects would you like to work on in the future?
I always dreamed of a shoe shop. Let’s see, maybe we will open one some day?
Header Photo: Rosa Merk
All other Photos: Kerstins Instagram