It’s that time of the week again: #GirlBossMonday!
This week I’m publishing my first London edition of #GirlBossMonday! I moved down to the Big Smoke last week and today I’m starting a week’s interning at London Fashion Agency, owned by my first ever #GBM, Rosie Davies! Keep a look-out on my blog this week as I will be posting all about my first week in the big city and my work experience week with LFA!
Melissa Davis is the founder of Ruby Press, Oakland, California. Melissa has an amazing career background working for many magazines, starting out as a fashion editor of Harper’s Bazaar! Read below about how Melissa made the switch from magazines to public relations.
The reason I conduct these interviews is to inspire you, my readers, and fellow PR students to be successful in your careers and business leaders of the future. I have asked the important questions to gain an insight of how these #GirlBosses made it to where they are today, and how we can emulate their successes.
Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.
OC: Hi Melissa! An easy question to start us off (I hope) – What is your full job title?
MD: Founder/Co-owner of Ruby Press.
Can you give me a background of your career and education? How did this lead you to be in your PR position today?
I started my career as a fashion editor in New York (at Harper’s Bazaar and Mademoiselle magazines).
I moved out to California to take a job with a fashion dot-com back in 2000, and the company folded before it even went live – two weeks after I arrived! My furniture hadn’t even arrived from New York yet!
I started working for Lucky magazine as a contributing editor and also took on the position at the local SF city magazine 7×7, and through my work with both, I started meeting so many inspiring creatives, and felt like the editors in New York City had no idea about what was happening out here in Northern California – and I wanted to help spread the word!
I don’t have a formal background in PR or Marketing, but graduated with a BA in Fashion Merchandising and knew first-hand how to work with editors, having been on the opposite end for so many years.
I thought to myself, who better to pitch editors than a former editor? So I started Ruby Press in 2001.
How and why did you start your business?
Our first client was Erica Tanov, who was a designer I’d worked directly with back when I was an editor. I was pulling clothes for a cover shoot with 7×7 when I asked her why she didn’t have a PR agency representing her.
When she explained that it was because she didn’t know any agencies based locally with national editorial connections, a lightbulb went off in my head! She signed as soon as I started the agency.
Where are you based? Does your job involve a lot of travelling?
We are based in Oakland, California, which is right outside of San Francisco. Nowadays, I think you can really be anywhere, which is great, but it’s nice being based in an area that is so innovative and has so much happening.
Our clients have historically been based across the country (even globe!) but we do tend to have a lot of clients based out of the Bay Area just because of word of mouth.
I do a bit of travelling. We do a press trip to New York twice a year and I end up travelling to LA a few times a year, but not much more than that, which I appreciate as I have a 6 year old at home.
What does your morning routine look like?
My mornings begin with waking up my son and getting him ready for school – I try to squeeze as much time with him on weekdays as possible. After he heads off, I work from home for a bit as it’s quiet and I can get a lot done, and then head into the office. Because we’re on the West Coast and deal with NY a lot, mornings can be hectic.
What do you find most rewarding about your role in PR?
It’s immensely satisfying to help businesses grow and see how PR has affected their bottom line. It feels great.
How do you find the right work/life balance?
I’m not sure I have! I work a lot Monday – Friday, so I really try to leave work at the office on the weekends. It’s important to have time with my family and to recharge.
What do you wish more people understood about PR?
That it takes time. That great press coverage doesn’t happen overnight. And that it’s important to continue with PR so to continue to keep your brand in front of the media’s eyes.
If you were to hire someone for a PR role, what skills and qualities would your ideal candidate have?
I look for employees that have excellent communication skills (both conversational and written) and that can spin many plates at once.
I also look for employees that I like. We have a small office and we work very closely together, so it’s important that we really like each other too.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the PR industry today?
That it’s always changing… with digital media and the role these influencers have taken on, it’s always evolving – which I also think keeps it interesting!
Who has been your biggest role model in your career so far?
I think that my first boss at Harper’s Bazaar was one of my biggest role models in my career. She was great at her job and treated everyone around her with respect. She was able to keep things in perspective as a working mum and inadvertently showed me how to balance it all and stay sane.
Can you give three tips for someone wanting to start their own PR agency?
I would suggest getting into PR if you can handle stress well, easily build relationships and devour all types of media on a regular basis. You have to have that hunger, if you know what I mean!
What advice would you give to a student like myself that wants to emulate your success and make it in the PR industry?
Read all the blogs, magazines and newspapers that you can. Keep an eye on YouTube and stay current with social media. Immerse yourself now, it will be extremely valuable down the road.
Thank you, Melissa ♥
You can visit Ruby Press’s website at www.rubypr.com
Follow Ruby Press on Twitter : @rubypress
Like Ruby Press on Facebook : @rubypress
Follow Ruby Press on Instagram : @rubypress