Name: Lindsey Benoit
Position/Company: Director of Communications at Women’s Health Magazine
Where did you go to school? Manhattan College
What was your major? Communications (with a focus on Public Relations and Broadcasting) and Psychology (with a focus on Industrial Organizational Psychology) double major with a minor in English.
First PR internship (what were responsibilities//what did you learn)? I had some great internships at Random House and VH1. My first internship was at Random House. I was an intern for Knopf. It was a rover program where I was able to experience not only PR, but also the editorial side of book publishing. My mentors there treated me like part of the team. I remember my time with Vintage/Anchor books in the Publicity department. I remember that my mentor, Dave Hyde, an amazing publicist, had me update this massive PR list by calling hundreds of people on a list that I thought would never end. I was so nervous at first and then I didn’t think I would ever be finished. After I got thought it all, he asked me why he told me to do it. I said, “to update the list?” He laughed, said “yes of course, but now, are you more comfortable picking up the phone and talking to people. Asking for things?” I thought for a minute and realized that the daunting task he gave me probably was one of the most valuable lessons to learn in PR…How to talk to people and not to be afraid to pick up that phone. That was just one of the many things I learned while working there—It was such a great team and some of my favorite memories.
First PR job? My first PR job was with an agency that I only stayed with for a year. It was not the most positive environment but with every job you take you learn something. I realized the type of publicist I did not want to be. They believed in the blasting philosophy—throw out enough spaghetti against the wall at least one will stick. That is the quickest way to be put on a reporters SPAM list. So, even though it may take a little longer, I research reporters, individualize each emails, and take feedback that they give me. They are the experts after all. I also learned to be kind to those around me, to be good to those that I work with—not only those more senior than me, but the junior people. Everyone is valuable and give credit to those that are working hard. My next job was back at Random House where I had the most amazing experience, with bosses that took the time to educate us and help us grow. It pays to keep in contact with your mentors and former employers.
Did you move to NY or LA (or any other city) to pursue your career in PR? I went to college in Manhattan, but saw the opportunities here through my internships and stayed.
Favorite part of your job? The fact that every day is something different. It is never a dull moment at work—one minute you are pitching the issue, then working on a fun segment for the Today Show and then you switch gears to promote an event.
Least favorite part of your job? Rejection. I love what I do and the magazine I work for, so I want to get as much press as I can and get the message out. It is hard to hear the word “no” from a reporter or producer.
Favorite brands (brands you think are launching great PR campaigns)? I think Target does a great job with their campaigns. They partner with amazing brands and their pop-up shops deliver a great press return.
Biggest accomplishment so far in your career? Becoming Director at Women’s Health.
Biggest lesson learned to date in your career? Take your time. When you rush, you make mistakes that can be avoided…this could be at an event, writing an e-mail or even when sending out a package. Sometimes those small mistakes can lead to bigger consequences.
Who were/are your mentors? What did they teach you? I am lucky to say I have a number of amazing mentors that have helped me along the way. Susan Portnoy was my first boss at Condé Nast. She is, hands down, one of the smartest and most savvy PR professionals in the industry. She taught me how to work on a red carpet, how to really craft a press release, how to stay organized and so much more. She was there to guide me when I had questions and, to this day, she is the first person I call when making big decisions with my career or even to brainstorm an idea at work. I call her my “maker” (True Blood style) because she really helped to make me into the publicist I am today. Another amazing mentor is Lauren Theodore, my former boss at SELF. Lauren is talented in her creativity and in the way that she was always determined to find a way to achieve our goals. She taught me how to pitch a magazine, how to work with the trades, how to think outside of the box. She believed in me and my abilities, which helped me to grow and ultimately helped me to get my job at Women’s Health. What was so amazing about Lauren was that she gave me autonomy, but was always there for me when I needed guidance. I was blessed to have worked with her for 4 years.
Best work advice? ”Have a Plan B.” Sometimes our first pitch plan may not be successful, but that doesn’t mean that what we are pitching isn’t compelling. That just means that we may just need to change our angles. It is like that saying, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Oh, and remember to sleep!
We work really hard and need those few hours of rest to stay on top of our game.
As a publicist, you can’t live without your…iPhone, planner and colored tabs to keep me organized.
In order to succeed in PR, you…need to be patient, creative, and build lasting relationships. Do not spam the press. Know who you are pitching, what they cover and if what you are working on will actually be something they are interested in. Doing that research will help you in the long run. Also, read everything! Newspapers, magazines, trades…The more you know, the better off you will be.
If you weren’t a publicist, you’d be…a producer. I think working for a local news station, working on segments would be great. If not that, then I would love to own my own little coffee shop.
Anything else you think aspiring publicists should know? Don’t just take the first job you are offered. I know that the job market is really hard right now, but don’t sacrifice your happiness. When interviewing, talk to current employees and see how they feel about the company. In the long run, you will work harder when you actually like the place you work.
How can my readers follow you or your company/brand?
@lindzben14 or @womenshealthmag
# – # – # – # – #
Benoit, Lindsey [MC????]
# – # – # – # – #
I believe that Lindsey is a member of the Class of 2004.
McEneney, Mike (MC1953)
[JR: Thanks, Mike. Much appreciated.]
Benoit, Lindsey [MC2004]
# – # – # – # – # 2014-Sep-26 @ 16:05