A Day in the Life of a Sydney Fashion Publicist

Publicists hold one of the most important roles in the fashion industry. It's a fast-paced, and stressful role, and to be successful, you essentially need to be one step ahead of everyone else—always. A publicist needs to be on call for editor requests, celebrity gifting and placement, client management and activations—all while planning the next strategic move for their brands. Basically, they have their work cut out for them, and while our days are busy as editors, we want to know what happens on the average day of a busy Sydney fashion publicist. 

We tracked down Montarna McDonald, founder and director of The Audience Agency, to find out exactly what her day looks like.

Keep scrolling to take a peep into her busy schedule, and then let us know in the comments below what other careers you'd like to hear from.

Photo:

Liz Sunshine

I don’t believe in the snooze button. Why prolong the pain of waking up?! But my boyfriend uses it religiously so I get my first wakeup call and have half an hour to rise peacefully while he jumps in the shower. Who am I kidding? As soon as my eyes can focus, I’m straight on my phone scrolling through emails and mentally planning the day. We have clients in the U.S. so I usually wake up to messages from their working day, and who knows what I’ve missed on Instagram while sleeping! My phone is pretty much glued to my hand from this point onwards.

If I have an early breakfast meeting I’ll shower, dress and head straight out the door. I’m the type of person who picks out their outfit the night before. I’m in a better headspace, and it saves me a few minutes in the morning. Some days I’m a fashion cliché in all black or monochrome, other days I’ll be in colour or trying out an edgy trend. That’s the benefit of working in this industry—I would NOT cope well with a corporate dress code.

Occasionally I’m on an early morning flight to visit interstate clients; I usually jump on the red-eye to Melbourne at least once a month, most recently to oversee a lingerie shoot for our brand Intimo. We try to be as close to our clients’ day to day, so that means being on site for every major event. Our job is so much easier when we’re on the ground with the brands and tapped in to their campaigns.

If I have the time, I’ll squeeze in a training session with the man I credit with introducing me to exercise, Chris Feather at 98 Riley St gym. This job requires some serious stamina and guns, and Chris has me on the right track.

I get my caffeine fix each morning from the guys at Gypsy Espresso in Potts Point. I couldn’t get through the working day without it—that cappuccino gets my PR game face on. If it’s a Monday, I’ll skip the pre-work coffee as we have a team meeting and our showroom assistant Chris does the caffeine run. Poor guy, he feels the pressure that day, literally nothing gets discussed until those cardboard cups are in our hands!

If we’ve lined up a client for morning TV, you’ll find me behind the scenes at Channel 7 or Channel 9 ensuring all runs smoothly. We have amazing relationships with the producers and like to be on hand for every situation big or small—it could be making sure the client is media-trained before going on air, or even just getting them a strong coffee and helping them choose an outfit for live television.

The day is in full swing, and I’m typing rapid-fire emails, taking calls from clients, scanning magazines and websites and keeping one eye on the ‘shop floor’. Our showroom gets so many visitors every day. I could be catching up on gossip with a blogger in the bathrooms or pitching a new brand to an editor in amongst the clothing racks. We schedule conference calls with our clients in L.A. at the start of the day too. I recently returned from Coachella—we took influencers and editors out there for our client Fame and Partners—so I’m checking in with the client weekly to share the coverage and get their feedback on spikes in sales and followers. We represent Tinder too, and sit down weekly to dial in to the U.S. team. I love the fluidity of working with digital brands. You come up with a spontaneous story or react to a topical angle—they are all over it in minutes.

I’m always in huddles with the team throughout the day. We’re all about open plan working and spit-balling ideas while we type. I usually have a few meetings each day so I’ll pop out in the morning with our account director or manager and check in with clients. Today it’s a monthly meeting with The Academy Brand at their HQ—I like to call it ‘the man cave’. It’s a games room-style space where the guys do their thing, and we’ll chat over yet another coffee about our PR strategy and the brand plans. I travel everywhere with my French bulldog Harper, so clients have got used to putting a bowl of water out when we visit. She’s becoming quite the canine influencer! Last year she starred in the David Jones Christmas campaign and she’s been photographed for Cosmopolitan Australia and Harper’s Bazaar Australia.

Food and breaks are low on the priority list in my working day. So I’m currently obsessed with Eat Fit Food, a healthy home delivery service. I get their dishes delivered to the office and eat lunch at my desk while scanning my inbox.

Off to the eastern suburbs this afternoon for a site visit with Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel. I adore working with this client, there’s always something cool in the pipeline and they are totally up for any ideas we throw at them. For New Year’s Day we did a collaboration with The Surf Lodge in Montauk and staged a mini festival. Today we reviewed our campaign for the Taste Orange wine festival and pitched our concept for a pop-up spa activation.

Back to the office playing catch up. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting face to face time with clients, but I can get over 100 emails while I’m out so the end of the day is always a busy time. I hate leaving emails unopened for the next day or reacting too slowly to things, it’s not how things are done here. Once I’m on top of things, I’ll chat to Cherie our social media assistant and suggest some content for Instagram from the days’ meetings and other stuff that I’ve tracked online. If we’re working on any new business pitches, I’ll work on the draft documents and research labels and brands that fit our ethos to approach. And I’ll put some briefs together for our overseas copywriter—she’s based in the U.K. and works through the night, so we have the edge in the industry when it comes to turning things round quickly.

Time for dinner with my boyfriend where we try and put our phones down and switch off from work for an hour. We’ll eat out in Potts Point, or if there’s an industry event on, I’ll dash home to freshen up and head there with a member of the team.

There seriously aren’t enough hours in my day to do everything. So the incredible hair director Tarryn at MOB Hair gives me occasional late night blow dries when my schedule is slammed. And if I’m lucky enough to have an hour at the end of the day I’ll try to squeeze in a House of Cards episode—I’ve just started the series and am seriously hooked. Then lights out head down, all set for the next whirlwind day in PR.

Keep scrolling for a snapshot of what Montarna's day looks like!

Photo:

Montarna McDonald

Checking in with our client—Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel.

Photo:

Montarna McDonald

Visiting MOB Hair for a quick blow-dry.

Photo:

Liz Sunshine

On the emails at Fashion Week Australia.

Photo:

Montarna McDonald

With the team at Coachella.

Photo:

Montarna McDonald

My French bulldog Harper hanging out in the office. 

Photo:

Montarna McDonald

A day on set with one of our amazing clients. 

What other professions would you like to read about? Let us know in the comments below and then shop these work-wardrobe essentials!

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