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When it comes to the intersection of fashion and digital, designer and entrepreneur Rebecca Minkoff is a true pioneer in the space. As an early adopter of social media, Rebecca was able to tell (and build) the story of her namesake brand by way of fun, lifestyle-led content. Over the years she and her team have tapped the power of influencers to truly connect with her customer-base in a way that they can easily relate to and engage with. Fast-forward to today where her efforts have translated into a worldwide phenomenon - one that celebrates stylish women and downtown romantics everywhere. That idea brings us to today's PLANOLEADERS story which features two women who not only align with Rebecca's brand vision but are the ones helping to move it along. Meet the brand's Community Managers Claire Buckley and Barrett Coughlin who recently had us over at RM's gorgeous Soho store to chat more. Read on to meet the talented duo who shared how they got their professional start, their tips for those entering the social media game and what it's been like to plan content as a New York City-based brand with a global presence.
Please introduce yourself!
Claire: Hi! I'm Claire Buckley, Community Manager at Rebecca Minkoff which entails everything social — from content creation to strategy. I recently moved to Brooklyn, and in my downtime I enjoy exploring the neighborhood, wandering museums and thrifting! Barrett: I'm Barrett Coughlin the other Community Manager here at RM! I initiate social media strategies and manage all influencer and blogger relations for the brand. I'm originally from Phoenix and have a very serious obsession with sunshine. I've been in NY for almost three years now and still haven't adapted to the snow, but I do love the city, there's always something to do and a new dog to meet.
Prior to Rebecca Minkoff what were you up to professionally, what role did digital play in your job description and what have been some notable moments throughout your career so far?
Claire: I started out in the fashion world as an intern at Cosmopolitan and Seventeen magazines. It was very PR based, which I realized was not for me. I am a creative person and have always been passionate about photography and my personal Instagram, so I knew that was where I wanted to shift my career. I joined the Rebecca Minkoff social team as an intern, and the rest is history. My most memorable moment in my career so far was at our Fall 2016 NYFW show. We shut down Greene Street in Soho, needless to say, it drew a big crowd. I was plopped right on the side of the runway to take photos, and it was wild. Barrett: My first fashion related internship was actually here at RM in the PR department, prior to that I was a PR intern for a political consulting firm. I interned with the Rebecca Minkoff PR team until eventually, I transitioned into a full-time role managing the brand's collaborations with industry tastemakers. After about a year the company approached Claire and I about creating a new branded social experience and here we are now! There's a time that occurs twice a year and is always prominently memorable for me. Leading up to each fashion show there's a cloud of chaos that rolls in, but with it comes this millisecond of awe-inspired silence, it happens before the first model, before the music, before everything. There's this moment where you look around and think "I can't believe I get to be a part of this." That feeling will never get old for me.
As Community Managers and based on your respective experiences so far, what are three of the biggest takeaways you've learned while in this role that you think will play a vital role all throughout your career?
Claire: One, flexibility is key. Social media is an ever-changing entity, and you have to be willing to adapt, and quick. Two, don't take things too seriously. A willingness to experiment and play has been key for me professionally and creatively. Three, don't be afraid to speak up about new ideas. Being the youngest person in an office can be intimidating, but you'll never get anywhere by staying silent. Barrett: Number one, it is easy to be underestimated because of your age so be confident in your ideas and pragmatic in the way in which you present them. Number two, no matter what industry you work in always keep the mentality that nothing is beneath you. A willingness to help will get you far in life. Number three; an internship should be viewed as the longest interview of your life. Whether you want to stay with the company or not your attitude can leave an imprint behind, what that impression is will be up to you.
We're huge fans of Rebecca's brand and love that it seamlessly blends fashion and lifestyle. How do you blend these two ideas or "industries" in your approach to creating and curating content and what is something you're hoping to do more of with RM's social channels this season?
Claire: Rebecca herself is a huge inspiration for us and our social strategy. Her lifestyle is something our customer aspires to, she's always traveling and attending amazing events all while being an kick-ass mom. She leads this awesome life, yet she's attainable and relatable. She really has a special direct connection with the RM girl that makes it so easy to blend the two worlds. Barrett: We have really lucked out in terms of being able to identify with our "girl" because technically we are her. We try to curate content that we find beautiful, humorous or inspiring because we think our followers will also enjoy it. Rebecca designs majority of our product with lifestyle in mind, she creates the kind of hands-free bag you'll want to carry for a night out or a heel you can actually walk in so integrating this into our social feeds is quite seamless. I hope to explore all the emerging platforms and their various features so that we can establish which ones we as a brand want to be involved in. I am eager to engage with our international consumers more, creating enticing content for platforms like WeChat.
Rebecca Minkoff has truly become a global brand. Do you ever work with teams abroad and if so, how have you learned to manage, delegate and craft consistent strategies even if your team is not all in the same place/on the move?
Claire: Google Docs is our best friend! It makes it easy for us to share content with our international teams. Barrett: As our brand continues to gain recognition around the world, we get the opportunity to work with international influencers. Our internal teams align so we can familiarize ourselves with international buys in specific markets. The product buys are crucial because they indicate key trends in a diverse market, interpreting these trends helps me strategize a gifting strategy that will appeal to these influencers. This way we can get authentic user generated content that promotes a cohesive yet diverse brand presence for multi-channel marketing.
What value do you think being a New York-based company brings to Rebecca Minkoff's social voice and aesthetic? How has it inspired your approach to content creation and planning?
Claire: Content creation is my favorite part of my job and NYC is the greatest backdrop for our product. Our office is located in the Flatiron District, right across the street from Madison Square Park, so there are endless places for us to run out and grab some quick content on the fly. Barrett: Rebecca coined the phrase "downtown romantic" which has long served as a basis for her design inspiration; some of our pieces are even named after streets in New York. A lot of our pieces play into the street style phenomenon; we have always had the effortless leather jacket, the staple cross body and the perfect skinny jeans making NYC an ideal scenic backdrop for "Insta-worthy" content. When the weather permits, NYC is great for on the go shots that are easily integrated into our social sphere.
When it comes to merging PR and content what are your three tips for brands looking to refine and develop their planning/content strategy?
Barrett: Social media has morphed into a very valuable branch of PR.
- Tip 1: Maximize your brand's impact, it's crucial to have unified messaging across all outlets.
- Tip 2: Stay open and savvy to change. Being a millennial brand has given us the ability to react to the ever-changing world of fashion. We have never gone the traditional route of advertising; we focus efforts where we feel our consumers spend most of their time, social platforms. The once obvious separation between celebrities and social influencers has become less discernible than ever before. Assimilating a progressive media plan utilizing influencers that your market deems relevant can generate engaging cross-promotional assets.
- Tip 3: Be picky. Ensure that your chosen fashion mavens can authentically represent your brand. Forced promotions will only alienate you from your brand objectives and will be a disservice to your followers.
When it comes to planning, in general, what role does it play in your day-to-day overall, and if you can share, what are some fun things you're currently planning with the team that we should keep an eye out for?
Claire: We like to keep our social media organic. The brand started out talking directly to the consumer before that was a even a thing, so we like to keep an open dialogue with our girl. We relate to the same struggles as her, and we want her to know we're there for her. We try not to plan too far in advance because we want to keep it authentic. Keep an eye out for our new watches launching soon! Barrett: As far as planning goes we definitely keep an organized schedule, but we try to plan based on how our followers are feeling at the time. Whether it's #mondaymotivation or #happyhour we aim to be on their level, we want our consumers to view us as approachable. Through imagery, product or captions we make an effort to communicate in a way that is relatable. Like Claire said, #watch out for something new coming soon!