Monday, January 4, 2010

She's a Llady: Jill Meisner

How did you become associated with Ladies Lotto? What kind of experiences have you had? I’ve been a Ladies Lotto member since, I believe, the very beginning. It’s been such a great resource over the years for work and fun. It’s also been a source of good laughs, while bringing much needed attention to various causes. The Lladies involved in the group are some of the most amazing, creative and smart women I’ve met. I think it’s funny when I’m having a long conversation with someone and we realize that we know each other from LL. It happens much more often than not.

How did you get your start doing PR and what attracted you to that line of work?

I originally moved to New York to be a writer and get my Masters degree in Journalism at NYU. I had been interning at Paper magazine, doing anything from running errands to writing Daily Tips for the website and interviewing celebrities for online features, when I decided I loved media, but I wanted to be on the other end. I was out for a birthday dinner, grilling a friend about the PR agency she was working for and jokingly asked if they had any openings. She asked me to send her my resume, and a few weeks later I had a 3-month internship there at The Rosen Group. Those 3-months really kicked my ass and gave me a great introduction to PR. I was then promoted to an Account Executive. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support and guidance of the people at that agency. I had the opportunity to plan events all over the country, work on segments for TV including Good Morning America, where I got to meet Diane Sawyer – my favorite lady in the entire world, and I placed stories in just about every major newspaper and news channel in the US. PR became the only thing I was interested in career-wise – I loved setting a goal for a client and reaching it, and the feeling when I’ve secured a really amazing story. It never gets old.

You've had a variety of positions in PR from Triple Five Soul to co-founding a boutique marketing agency in New York. What excites you about doing public relations?

It really is a constant learning process. Knowing the right angle to pitch a story, knowing how to not annoy the media, figuring out what works and what doesn’t for various publications, etc. Sometimes when I start working with a certain client, or a new story, I may think it’s going to go one way and it turns out to have a completely different result. Sometimes the things you think will be the easiest to pitch really end up taking the most work. And as I said before, the excitement of setting out to get a really big story and nabbing it, is just great. In the past few years, I’ve discovered a whole new side to PR developing strategy and working to implement plans internationally. Now, my goal is to take the development and pitching side, and marry those as I continue in my career.

Everyone looks at PR (especially fashion PR) as being glamorous and chock full of celebrities and perks. Is that the real deal?

Well, for some people it definitely can be. It really depends on the type of PR you do. If it’s celebrity PR – yeah, you’re definitely going to be around celebrities all the time. I never really wanted that for myself. There’s a lot of personality in celebrity and music PR, and my love for clothes and cool products and ideas took over. But even being in fashion PR, I was always working to get our stuff on celebrities, musicians and trendsetters. It’s fun to have them come through the showroom. Some are really grateful, some…not so much. But more often than not, they’re really great about the whole thing. Perks – I always tried to make it a give and take. If I’m asking for something from someone, I want to return the favor in some way if I can. Getting invited to parties and events is always nice, and sometimes there’s a really great gift bag! Fashion PR is really great for this…samples are everywhere and if you’re in the right place at the right time…they’re pretty available. I’ve gotten to travel a lot, had access to some really great showrooms, see bands before they got big, been on the set of and worked on some unbelievable photoshoots…so I would say the perks are definitely a plus. Also, and I know publicists are stereotyped as some of the biggest phonies, but I’ve met some of the greatest and most genuine friends through my various jobs. I don’t agree with it at all.

You were a Global Sporstwear Communications Manager for Nike at an amazing time during the Beijing Olympics. How awesome was it to be a part of that?

The amazing part was working on the launch of the Nike Sportswear category – Nike’s biggest launch in its 37-year history. There was a lot of pressure and a lot of expectations. We put together a series of globally relevant events, beginning in April in Portland, Beijing in May, and finally culminating in the flagship store launch in New York in August. Being in China four months before the Olympics was pretty cool – the whole city was in transition to get ready. The hardest thing was trying to make sure the artists, Nike friends, and media we were flying over had a Visa! The Visa laws changed daily, and I think I was still helping to procure these up to the minute I walked on the plane. Working with the media on events to get the Sportswear story out there was pretty intense. I was working with a great team inside Nike, but the level of creativity from the artists, athletes and innovators from outside the company was unlike anything I’ve experienced before. I wasn’t in Beijing for the Olympics as Sportswear was launching the flagship store in NY, along with eight temporary retail locations throughout the world, so it was a very busy time. But watching the Olympics and seeing all of the athletes wearing Nike Sportswear to and from the court/pool/field/mat was pretty exciting.

You left NYC and the agency you helped found (Pitch Control Public Relations) for greener pastures (literally) in Portland, Oregon when you started at Nike. How did you land that opportunity, and how was the transition from being the boss, to having people above you again?

Well, there definitely is more “green” out here in Portland! I love being so close to the mountains – hiking and river rafting in the summer, snowboarding in the winter – there’s always something to do. But there’s so many pro’s to both Portland and New York, I can’t ever decide which is better. It was a hard decision to leave Pitch Control and New York. Sarah Cirkiel, my partner at PCPR, and I worked so hard to build the company but it was really a personal decision for me and had nothing to do with my career. I just really needed a break from New York, and had always thought about living on the West Coast, although I knew LA wasn’t the right place. In high school, I lived in Israel for a while with a bunch of people from Seattle and they always made the Pacific Northwest sound amazing. Sarah and I had sat down and talked about the changes I needed and I looked into moving out to the PNW. Thankfully, after I made the decision to head to Portland or Seattle, a writer friend of mine recommended the position at Nike. Surprisingly enough, I felt the team at Nike was a pretty great environment. There are definitely some frustrations that come with working at a large company, but all in all, I felt my ideas were well listened to and supported. Being inhouse is a much different lifestyle than being at an agency. The hardest thing to get used to was having to get to the office at 7:30am (in order to speak to Europe), and being able to go home before 9pm!

You parted ways with Nike in May. What area would you like to conquer next? Will you stay in public relations? Will you stay out west?

I have a few things in the pipeline that I’m not totally comfortable announcing just yet. But stay tuned in the next few weeks! I’ll be making some announcements. As for Portland, I love it here and a part of me will always want to make this a home. But it looks like the East Coast is calling my name once again. Again, more on that later….

What other projects or hobbies are you into aside from your career? Any hidden/untapped talents?

Hidden talents – I’d like to think it’s baking and cooking. I’m getting better at both, but my specialty is this no-bake cake I make from scratch. If LL has a potluck, I’ll make it for all of you. People kind of freak out about it. But since I’ve gone Vegan, cooking and baking are becoming more of a regular thing. I’m no longer burning rice and overcooking my vegetables, which is great. I made some Vegan tuna fish the other night that turned out amazing. I never even liked regular tuna fish. The no-bake cake isn’t Vegan, but I’ll make it for you guys anyway. Hobbies – I love riding my bike. That’s the only down side to living in Portland. Even though we’re supposedly the most bike-friendly city…the rain makes it hard to look good when you ride your bike everywhere. Since moving out here, I’ve discovered Cyclocross. It’s the best way to spend a rainy weekend. Standing out in the rain, cheering others on, and probably drinking way too much beer. A Cyclocross race is the only acceptable place for a cowbell, I believe.

1 comment:

sandy ley said...

inspiring!! love this lady!