Interview with PR Expert Extraordinaire, Alex Silver

December 22, 2021

Hi lovelies,

I can’t believe how quickly this year has flown by! I’ve been reading stories about amazing women who have had big changes in their careers this year, from starting their own businesses to going in a completely new direction.

I absolutely loved these stories of people who stepped out of their comfort to chase their dreams and try something new! It got me thinking about all the amazing people I’ve met throughout my 30 years working in TV and the interesting positions they have.

I’ve been super lucky to meet so many people, but one person I can always rely on is my lovely friend Alex Silver. You’ll remember last week I invited Alex to jump on the blog and share her party planning tips, which you all loved so much! It’s been fantastic having Alex get involved with the blog. There are so many people who call themselves ‘experts’ but let me tell you Alex is a true public relations leader. She’s top of the PR field, a pioneer in communications strategies, launching huge beauty brands into the UK market and has been running her hugely successful beauty agency for 25 years now. I received a couple of messages from you lovely lot asking what PR exactly is?! so who better to answer this than PR expert extraordinaire, Alex Silver, here she shares a little bit more about the world of PR and her best tips for breaking into the industry…

Hi Alex, thank you so much for coming on the blog again to answer my questions about your career, would you be able to start by telling us what exactly is PR?

Simply put, PR stands for Public Relations, it’s the art of building and maintaining how the public view a person or business. This is done by creating a careful strategy that will map out a set of techniques and initiatives to get journalists, TV shows, radio stations, celebrities and influencers talking about the business or person.

If you open your favourite magazine and read a story on the ‘Best Vitamin C Serums’ or look on Instagram and find your favourite influencer sharing a post about the perfect lipstick shade, a PR is nine times out of ten behind that! PRs and journalists will work very closely together to make sure they are sharing a variety of products and news stories that will appeal to the magazine’s readers. It’s the same with celebrities and influencers we will work with them to make the products desirable.

Every day is different when working in PR! Your responsibilities can change quickly, one minute you could be dealing with an journalist request or writing press releases about a new product launch and the next you might be organising red carpet events.

Most people instantly think of Ab Fab when I tell them I work in PR but it’s not all prosecco and paparazzi! PR is all about getting the maximum exposure for a brand in front of its audience. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work to do, and it’s not always glamourous, but it’s such a great feeling and always worth it when your campaign is a success and brands come back to you with brilliant results.

Thanks Alex, and how did your journey into the world of PR begin?

I actually started my career as a nurse, working my way up to become a Junior Sister in the casualty ward. I later began assisting with some medical PR projects, which is when I first discovered my love for PR. I decided to go it alone and set up Alex Silver PR from my kitchen table and haven’t looked back since!

In the past 25 years, I’ve launched so many fantastic beauty companies including Beauty Blender, Caudalie, KISS Nails & Lashes and Fake Bake to help make them the iconic brands they are today. My role is to create public relations strategies that will catapult these brands into top publications, secure influencer hype, drive sales, grow brand awareness, produce credible celebrity endorsements, create gifting initiatives and host red-carpet parties. I’ve also been Dame Joan Collins’ UK Publicist for the last 11 years.

In 25 years of running Alex Silver PR you must have so many amazing memories, but what’s the one thing that stands out to you the most?

There have been many career highlights, so this is a tricky question to answer as many moments that stand out to me!

It’s always really rewarding for me to see our campaigns help sell products and become the ‘must-have’ beauty item everyone is talking about. I’ve always enjoyed helping launch start-up companies and being a part of their story.

One brand in particular that stands out for me is Leighton Denny, we took him from a truck driver to A-List celebrity nail tech. I worked with him from the very start of his career, and over the years we launched the first diamond manicure, went on tour with The Spice Girls and hosted collection launch parties.

Leighton even invited me to Buckingham Palace to watch him collect his MBE, which was a very special and proud moment.

I also launched Botox into the UK, which at the time wasn’t an easy job! Nowadays everyone knows what Botox is, but at first it was difficult to convince people to inject their face with poison. We worked with credible doctors and skincare experts to show how Botox was safe and Botox has become one of the most popular aesthetic treatments of the past 20 years!

Aside from these moments, I’ve been lucky enough to fly all over the world organising press parties in some of the most beautiful locations from LA and New York to Dubai!

A career of over 25 years, you must have seen so many changes! How has PR changed in the past 25 years?

Oh wow, where do I begin, so many things have changed from small daily tasks to the launch of social media! When I started, I used to print press releases and post them by mail to all the journalists at the leading publications, sometimes it could take me all day to send press releases and now I can do the same job in just five minutes.

Instagram, Twitter and Facebook were unheard of and is such an important part of our campaigns as a tool for talking directly to customers. Instagram has also brought around the rise of influencers. Before we would look to celebrities in glossy magazines for beauty and skincare recommendations, now everyday people on Instagram can have more persuasion over our shopping habits.

The industry is constantly changing, so you must be able to embrace change and the past two years have shown just that! My team and I would have been organising up to five products launch events at one time and running in and out of the office to meet new journalists and influencers for coffee. Now we host a lot of virtual events and make sure the experience is as immersive as possible for our guests. We also meet journalists and influencers over Zoom for a coffee which is great for fitting into people’s busy schedules.

What’s a typical day working in PR like for you?

I’ll start the workday by getting stuck into emails. On a typical morning I could be dealing with photo shoot requests, overseeing mood boards, liaising with fashion stylists and photographers. RSVPing to red carpet events, conducting press interviews, booking TV appearances, and assisting with public appearances.

Once my admin is out of the way, I’ll usually have meetings with new beauty brands, calls with editors or events scheduled into my busy diary. Last month, I accompanied Dame Joan to a Charity Ball, where my role was to field journalist requests and photo opportunities.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a career in PR in 2022?

Write to PR agencies and freelance PR’s and try get some experience through an internship, this is a great way to work out if the industry is for you.

Take time to work on your writing skills, this is an important part of the role from writing press releases and blog posts to website and advert copy, you can guarantee an employer will want to see examples of your work so get creative! 

Also, immerse yourself in the media and make sure you are aware of trending topics, especially in your industry. This includes newspapers, blogs, magazines and social channels, as well awareness of news stories you’ll keep up to date with the opinion of your consumers.

For the readers already working in PR, what tips would you give them to further their career?

Be creative! Journalists and influencers are bombarded with press releases, mailers and event invites all day long. To cut through the noise you need to find a different spin, do something different and clever. Whether it’s a table at the latest ‘it’ restaurant, a press release made of seed paper, a panel of experts ready for Q&A or just a fresh perspective on a hot topic – creativity will help get you noticed in 2022.

Do your research and discover who really might write about your service or product. A bugbear of journalists is PRs missing vital information or sending them information that isn’t relevant to them. It might sound simple, but it can make a difference and a journalist will really appreciate it if you’ve taken the time to make their job easier. You’ll be surprised at how many people overlook the research step!

Keep an eye on big stories, is there an opportunity to get involved? Having an expert available is a great way to quickly provide credible commentary on a trending topic. One little trick is to take advantage of the national days and calendar events, for example, if you have a female CEO share the empowering story of her career for International Women’s Day to become more relevant and timely. With red carpet season coming up, gift your products in event goody bags or contact celebrity makeup-artist to use your beauty products with A-List guests.

What are the most important skill sets you need working in PR?

Essential skills I look for in my team are adaptability, organisation, and creativity!

There’s so much going on at one time, so it’s important to be able to prioritise your workload and make sure you don’t miss a deadline. A sparkle of creativity is important when it comes to brainstorming a new campaign and even problem-solving. Some of my best campaigns have come from thinking outside the box!

I hope you enjoyed my chat with Alex, she’s had an amazing career and I hope you find it inspiring. What are your aspirations for 2022? Let me know below.

If you would like more advice from Alex she’s also shared her top party planning tips, be sure to check it out here!

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