“Everything happens for a reason.” – Janice Kraimer, my mom
Name: Taryn Scher
Occupation: Public Relations
Did you go to college? Where? University of Maryland
What did you study? Journalism
Where do you work? TK PR (President)
Where are you from? Sharon, MA
Why did you pick this career?
It happened by accident. I’d always dreamed of moving to New York City, so upon college graduation I did. The first job I got was a temp position in fashion, which led to a full time job with a company just launching in the U.S. They allowed me to do a little bit of everything in the first six months, and I developed a passion for PR.
What are your future plans for your career?
I can’t believe I’m already where I dreamed of being. I thought for sure this was at least 20 years down the line but I’ve only been out of college four years and have my dream job! I’m constantly thinking of new ideas to expand my own personal brand. Next up, I’d like to be doing a local version of fashion police on one of the daily TV stations here.
How did you prepare yourself for this career?
I read everything and anything I can get my hands on: books, journals, trade publications—I never went through the PR 101, so I had to give myself a crash course. I spent a lot of time taking people out to lunch and in return, they would share their wisdom.
And if you just happened to land in this career what made you stay?
There is no better reward for me than seeing a client in the pages of a magazine- and not ad pages, but actual editorial coverage—whether it’s a simple product placement, fashion photoshoot, or a multi-page feature, I get a rush every time.
What are the downsides to this profession?
There are a lot of no’s and a lot of unanswered pitches. The industry is changing so much, especially with social media, that the “old rules” don’t apply. The traditional media release is completely dead, and with the current economic conditions it’s become very trial and error. The PR 101 basics that used to work to drive sales to a business are no longer working as effectively. There is no guarantee of anything anymore. Clients want to see results immediately and often times PR is about a long-term effect that is difficult for some companies to understand.
What is a typical workday for you?
I’m at the computer checking the overnight emails by 8:15am. I go item-by-item down my to-do list (which I create the night before). It usually involves a lot of pitching and a lot of follow-ups. I try not to allow more than 24 hours to pass when I get a media inquiry. Timing is everything in my industry. Usually, I remember to have lunch around 1 or 2 p.m. and I try to finish my day by 6 p.m. (though I continue to check email until I got to bed). Sure, there are a lot of great lunches, and parties and meetings scattered as well but the non “glamorous” side that no one really talks about is how many hours a PR professional must log in front of a computer screen. That’s where results happen.
How might this job be a stepping stone to other professions?
Already my job has opened more doors than I ever imagined. I now have a monthly shopping segment on the CBS affiliate in Greenville where I plan my own segment and showcase products; I love this side of my job because publicists are contacting me so I get to see what catches my eye—what’s a great pitch, and what’s a terrible pitch. I take that and apply it to my clients. Last year, I was asked to style the fall fashion issue of the local magazine here, another incredible opportunity that likely would not have come my way without my current position and contacts, and as a direct result of that I was hired to produce the first Fashion Week in Greenville, South Carolina this past fall which featured 17 runway shows of local designers and retailers in two days.
What is the single-most important piece of advice you can offer a person pursuing this career? Ask for help.
What steps do you recommend to someone who is planning to pursue this career?
Read everything you can about the industry and embrace the changes—social media is an integral part of PR now, and one that you have to be able to incorporate in a media plan for your clients- otherwise, you will quickly become irrelevant in your own industry.
What professional or community volunteer organizations are you currently a member of?
One of the best moves I’ve ever made was volunteering for an annual food, wine and music festival in Greenville, which raises money for charity, an event called Euphoria. Shortly after I moved to Greenville, I met the group behind the organization and they didn’t have any budget for PR, but I knew with PR their event could rise to another level. So for three years now (and I will continue to) I have volunteered my services for this group. You’d be amazed at the connections you will make, how that can turn around and lead to new clients, new contacts—things you would never think of! The best thing you can do- rather than just joining an organization for the sake of joining it- is volunteer for a group that can utilize what you do best. Excel at what you do for them and treat them as if they were a paying customer. Your time will not be wasted.