What is PR? Many people use this abbreviation for Public Relations, yet not many know what it truly embodies. Imagine you hired a PR manager. They would have to find ways to tell everyone in Montreal how great and talented you are in a convincing manner. It sounds much easier than it actually is.
A good PR manager can do miracles for a company or a person. They can help build a good reputation, create a buzz around your brand, make the public notice you. And that's exactly what Steph Bercovitch from Social Candy does (better known as Steph Paris Berks). And does it well.
How did you get into PR? Describe your journey.
A few years ago I got a job offer (US working visa included) to move to San Diego to help a friend of mine open up a high end, women’s retail store. Seeing as how she had almost zero background in fashion, buying, sales, merchandizing, marketing, staffing, promotions, running an online store, etc, I quickly realized this would be an awesome opportunity to fulfill my lifelong dream of living the life in California, while mixing my knowledge and background in marketing, social media, fashion and more, plus I could be permanently tanned…my dream.
Unable to afford a PR company at the time, we quickly learnt the value of networking and being “seen.,” so I took my background in nightlife promotions and applied it to the store. We had live music all the time, were always involved in fashion shows and did a ton of cross promotion with every major party or festival that came through San Diego. Our business was built on social media ambassadors, bottle service girls, bar and club owners, promoters, sorority sisters, stylists, bloggers and rich moms, which helped us gain exposure through trade, all while building extra marketing content for our platforms and online store. After a two and a half year run with Tease, I realized that building somebody else’s business was cool, but I would rather build my own. I moved back to Montreal, called up some old industry friends and decided to venture into my newest passion: Public Relations. It was not as simple as I just made it sound, but I would hate to bore you with the details….and almost three years later, here we are.
What’s you typical day like?
Truthfully, there is NEVER a typical day when you work in PR, not with my crazy clients anyway. My mornings are always the same, starting off with what I call a “hipster latte” from either Campanelli or Lili and Oli, while I quickly drive down Notre Dame, listening to Fetty Wap (true story) to M Salon. In case you weren’t aware, I do NOT know how to do my own hair, so each morning, I have the luxury of a blowout. Hashtag, perk of the job. After a therapeutic vent session, wash and blowdry with Hair By Adrien, I get to work. Some days are spent in the office, surrounded by candy, fancy coffee table and business books and the most eclectic, random, artwork you could think of, but most of my days are spent “on the road,” meaning, harassing clients, meeting new ones and event planning. Throw in some trendy media maven lunches at Soubois, a coffee break at Tommy, daytime chills complete with my favourite pink water bottles at Somwhr, Mandys delivery to the Saintwoods office and École Privée and end it with some shenanigans (and selfies, obviously) with the Vintage Frames team and voilà, a typical day in the world of SPB. My days are always action packed and on the move. Even those days in the office, the ones you assume would be chill are full of chaos, drama and absurdities, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
A constant in my days, weekends included, is checking in with most of my clients who I value and love so much. Their salon, juice bar, coffee shop, restaurant, nightclub, store, etc is also (in my mind) MY salon, juice bar, coffee shop, restaurant, nightclub, store, etc, so I care about the sales, I care about customer service, the social media and I, of course, care about the press. The other constant of my day, #SorryNotSorry, is spent naturally stalking the press. Ask any journalist: stalking is an understatement and there is no shame in my game. If you are a writer, a blogger, have a big Instagram following or hold any influence whatsoever, I want to be your bestie.
What is the best part of working in PR?
Although most people look at my Instagram and say, “OMG, SPB LIKE DOESN’T WORK,” that is just not the case. I am actually a WORKAHOLIC and wake up each day feeling blessed and appreciative to do what I love, how I want to do it. Since I work for myself, I am grateful that I have clients who allow me to be me…all the time. I can be dramatic, over the top, surprisingly sensitive, sometimes psycho, aggressive, fun, funny, obnoxious, annoying, a diva or a badass bitch depending on my mood, so I really do appreciate that my clients encourage me to “do me,” since being this way, oddly works for us. I think in a lot of other fields, or in any corporate world, I would be unemployable, LOL, so the best part about PR is that to me, there are no rules and if there are, I don’t care to follow them.
My days are always fun, complete with over the top lunch and dinner dates, hashtag another perk of the job, sing-a-longs and LOLS. You can usually find me at the hottest places in the city, (is this when I shamelessly plug more of my clients?), always surrounded by good friends, media contacts who are now friends, and my crazy family. My clients, who I actually consider extended family, (I LOVE YOU ALL VERY MUCH EVEN THOUGH YOU GANG UP ON ME AND MAKE FUN OF ME ALL DAY) are also the best part about my job. I believe that my clients are the hottest, most fun, talented, smartest and funniest men in the city and although some have tattoos and beards and look scary, they are the nicest, sweetest, biggest teddy bears around and I owe a lot of my success so far to them. I always say I am a proud mama but I know they are proud of me too, which is why I work so hard, my clients actually give ME motivation.
What’s the worst part of working in PR?
Ha, that’s easy…the pressure of letting a client down. I have this scary fear that one error could and WILL make my entire business disappear, so I work extra hard to always over deliver. Working with high-end luxury clients like mine, in a business that is mostly referral based, there is just no room for a fuck up. This puts a lot of pressure onto myself and my staff, because my brand effects their brand and vice versa. I run my business like a family, a W for one client, is a W for the team and we all have big plans for 2016. I feel a responsibility to deliver results to them each day and won’t stop until I know my work is complete.
What was your favourite event of 2015 and why?
Hmm, good question. I have done so many events this past year and each hold a special place within my heart. I know that sounds super lame but I actually truly love what I do, especially events. I guess the event I am most proud of was the launch of the new Tava x Stan Smith Adidas Release at Browns, because it was my first corporate event, fingers crossed for more to come. Not only was it a huge learning experience and success, but I also got to work with some amazing alpha females. Although I rep mostly men, I do respect the concept of a #GIRLBOSS, so working with the Browns team, made up of mostly women, taught me a lot.
I also got to bring on Tomahawk as a catering sponsor, dance to Toddy Flores all night long and built up a great friendship with Tava, all wins in my book. The event was slammed with press, close friends and a bunch of my clients, so hearing positive feedback from the people I respect the most meant the world to me. I feel like this event was a game changer for my plans moving into the New Year and for that, I will forever be grateful.
What are you looking forward to in 2016?
I have big plans in 2016 to expand my brand and add in some other business ventures. I don’t want to say too much but I am very excited to announce that I am launching a blog… but it’s not what you think. It will be witty and funny and an easy, laid back read, I am not trying to become some #OOTD or #DIY master, I promise. I also plan to launch a new avenue of my business, a personal concierge service. More details to come but maybe I will even give MTL Blog an exclusive on that right before it launches, insert winky face emoji.
What are your tricks for building successful relationships with clients?
A friend of mine once told me that the only thing in life you can control is who to give your money to and since then, I have treated my business differently. I think finding a common ground with every client is always key. Once you find a common ground, trust is built. When I mix common ground and friendship with trust and hard work, magic happens. I also know my sense of humour, perfectly bronzed skin and long blonde locks win over my clients. I may be the closest they ever get to being BFFAE with Barbie.
What’s your word of advice to those who want to work in PR and look up to you as inspiration?
The best advice I could offer is the following: don’t take yourself too seriously, don’t take things too personally, find a niche market and learn the ins and outs, learn how to NAMASTE at least once a day (my choice is always a solo dance party), eat well, drink better, learn how to put your hair in a messy bun (I cannot make a ponytail, sadface emoji), keep your REAL friends close – a lot of people in this world are users, big sunglasses match any outfit, black never goes out of style, always size up - layers are on trend, appreciate your neck (LOL @ARIEBENCH), never say NO to any meeting, mixing acronyms into vocabulary is acceptable, duckfaces will always show off your contour, life is better in high top sneakers, always back up your iPhone, the Kimoji app was worth the $2.50, pumpkin spice lattes are overrated, it's OK to have a busted teddy bear even if you are 29 years young, a SALUT goes a long way (especially in Quebec), watch out for Facetune – everyone knows you airbrush and last but not least, everything you do and say is PR so unless you have ME on your team, be mindful of your words.
Where do you see yourself in a few years from now?
In a few years from now, I see myself owning a PR empire…with Lauren. Although many think I work alone, that is not the case, Lauren Lieberman is my ride or die, my right hand, my extra set of eyes and ears and one of my now closest friends. She is my contour queen, my gangsta betch and one of the best people I could have asked for in my corner. She keeps me up to date on my rap music and caught up on all my Kardashian gossip, all while taking selfies and making me laugh all day long. I see US, as a duo, expanding Social Candy across Canada and into the US. Right now we specialize in entrepreneurial, fashion, food, health and beauty PR and throw kick ass media or shopping events, but this is just the beginning.
How important is social media in your business?
It’s 2016 – social media IS my business. More people today look for information or inspiration on Instagram or Pinterest than inside a newspaper or a book. Bloggers and ambassadors dictate what is hot VS what is not, so keeping your social platforms up to date is crucial. From flatlays, foodie brunch pictures, duckface selfies to even artistic collages on all my WERK, “SPB” has taken over my life. Privacy no longer exists, I snapchat everything, take photos everywhere, (even in the club). I guess people would say I am ADDICTED? You should follow me, @stephparisberks, and see what I am all about…I promise to keep you entertained.