CONNIE WONG // MODERNE PRESS
Connie Wong launched Moderne Press — a boutique public relations and marketing agency, specializing in the representation of brands in the lifestyle industries, including fashion, beauty, home décor and accessories — in 2008 with the desire to work hand in hand with boutique brands, providing them with personalized and dedicated service.
What are you currently working on and what does a typical day look like for you?
The beauty of PR is that there’s no typical day! Some days are filled with client calls, while others are spent in meetings with editors or planning an event. Consistently, we are always working with the media in some form – whether it’s pitching a story or fulfilling a sample request.
What parts of your work do you love?
I absolutely love working with the media – from editors to bloggers – and bringing our boutique brands to their attention. There’s nothing more thrilling than seeing our clients featured in our favorite magazines, “must-read” blogs, and stylish influencers. After all these years, I still get so excited when an amazing piece of press comes out for our clients!
What parts of your work do you dislike?
Administrative paperwork! From finances to legal paperwork, there’s a lot of paperwork that happens behind the scenes of running a business that’s not so fun.
What things do you have to do that you didn’t realize when you started Moderne Press?
I don’t think I realized how much thought, time, and effort I would have to put toward administrative paperwork, legalities, and financial planning. We’ve invested a great deal of time developing our business plan, core beliefs, and strategy in the growth of our agency. With the evolution of media and how consumers learn about new brands continues to change, we must adapt how we work with the influencers, tastemakers, and media.
We are always sharing and educating our clients on what makes a PR campaign successful, how the media is evolving, and how to leverage the value that PR brings to their business.
What are some interesting things people probably don’t know in your industry?
It’s not always as glamorous as it looks! There are moments when it is glamorous, but oftentimes it’s a deadline-driven and demanding industry to work in.
Also, what many people don’t realize is that as publicist, we are always on-call. If an urgent request comes in from an editor — whether it’s an email at 10 pm or a call on Christmas Day (it’s happened!), you can be sure that we will get back to them right away and be as helpful as possible.
It may not always be the most balanced lifestyle, but with all of the technology we use, we are always checking our phones, iPads, or computers to ensure we are responding quickly and getting the media what they need as soon as we can, in order to be as successful as possible. My philosophy is always to try and go above and beyond!
What type of calendar do you keep?
I use both an Outlook and iCal calendar, and I make sure all of our appointments are synced across devices. I also use a task management system called Flow, with which our team uses to plan and schedule tasks.
How do you plan out your calendar?
We typically plan out our client calls, PR activities, and action items calendar at the beginning of each month. However, it continually shifts and changes throughout the month, depending what’s happening with each of our clients. It’s all about what to prioritize each day, week, and month. Additionally, we always try to meet in person with editors and bloggers each month; it may be planned weeks in advance or a last minute thing.
I always try to make time for family and friends, so plans are made weeks in advance, even catch-up calls with friends with little ones and busy schedules! But it can also mean an impromptu text just to check in or a call or to see if they’re available to hang out. Either way, it’s really important for me to connect since that is what really matters.
How do you organize and tackle your to-do list?
Flow is such a lifesaver! It has a web, desktop, and phone app.It’s really nice to have a synced to-do list anywhere I go. My entire team simply inputs our entire to-do lists into the system, which allows us to assign tasks and sort multiple lists. You can also tag the tasks, which is amazing for searchablity.
How do you attack your never-ending email? Do you have a certain strategy you use?
I think most people would be shocked by the amount of email we get daily. My inbox almost always has a varying degree of email in it. However, I try to sort it all using folders labeled by each client of ours, along with some internal team folders.
Prioritizing emails based on what needs an immediate response and what can wait a few hours is key to keeping everything manageable. A full inbox is always a good sign in PR. It means there are a ton of media opportunities for our clients!
If I don’t answer a non-urgent email by the end of the day, I try to make it a priority the next morning when I arrive in the office. It doesn’t always happen, but I try my best!
What is your work process and/or work strategy? Anything that you have found that works for you?
I am so lucky that that my team and I share a common trait – and that is that we’re all very driven. It’s in our nature to give 110% all the time. Overall, I check in with the team when I get into the office and make sure everyone is set for the day. If we need to make any shifts in the day’s activities we try to work it out quickly. The rest of the day is taken over by media opportunities, calls, emails, appointments – whatever is on the schedule!
I get a lot of planning accomplished in the late afternoon and early evenings at the office, they tend to be a bit quieter, so I have a little time to think about client strategies, processes, action items, etc. However, I think flexibility is important for my team and make sure they figure out a schedule that works for them. For example, our PR Director, Jamie, gets most of her planning and strategy accomplished early in the morning (around 6 am!) before she gets flooded with email.
When you are stuck on a project, how do you get out of the rut?
There are two things that usually work for me:
1) Brainstorming with our team, especially our PR Director, Jamie Werner! We’ve worked together for many years, so we really understand each other’s work processes. Whether it takes a few minutes or an hour, we usually have some fantastic solutions or fun ideas.
2) In PR, it sometimes feels like I’m attached to my email 24/7. I try to step away from the computer and give my brain a break. I usually find that ideas or inspiration will hit when I’ve cleared my mind – like after a yoga class or spending time with my husband.
Another wonderful aspect about PR is that it is part of our job to read magazines and blogs. Sometimes, I feel like I am “not working” when I am flipping through a magazine or taking a “Pinterest break.” But by doing these things, we are educating ourselves on the trends, what editors and bloggers are working on, and simultaneously finding inspiration and ideas in it all.
How do you GSD at home?
I could be called a workaholic – so I’m consistently trying to be better about balancing my personal and work life. Over the last couple years, I’ve consciously tried to carve out time for my personal life – whether that’s housework, working out, or spending time with family and friends. These days, I literally schedule in workouts to make sure that there’s a bit of a weekly balance. I’m really thankful that being a business owner allows some flexibility in how I plan my schedule.
Also, I try to not reply to any emails on the weekends unless it’s urgent. Sometimes, working on the weekend is unavoidable, but I try to set boundaries – otherwise I’d be working all the time! It’s easier to say than to practice, and it’s something that I’ve been working on for years and likely will continue working on for a long time. With a baby on the way, I’m sure this will all change though!
Nuggets of advice you’ve been given that have stuck?
Do what you love and invest in a great team. It’s important to spend your days being passionate about what you do, and working with people who share your joy and vision.
CONNIE’S APPS / WEBSITES / PROGRAMS / TECH
VSCOcam / Whitagram / Bloglovin’ / Flow / Ballpark / Dropbox / Pandora / YogaStudio / Kindle / Yahoo! Weather / Pinterest / OpenTable / PRCouture / Levo / ADP / WeTransfer / Humans of New York (for inspiration/fun!) / FitnessBlender / Microsoft Office / Adobe Photoshop / Skype / Cision / Cyberduck / Speek / Campaign Monitor
Photos by Lauren Edith Anderson