Caitlin Shockley has developed comprehensive branding, marketing and PR Strategies for some of the world’s top luxury and lifestyle brands. After graduating from the United States’ 13th oldest university, the College of Charleston, and studying at New York’s Parsons The New School for Design, her expertise has been cultivated through the experiences of launching new fashion and lifestyle companies from infancy to maturity. She also has specialized experience working with digital companies, social commerce brands, and mobile applications.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
The onslaught of digital media and endless stream of social content has radically changed PR. The Creative evolved 5 years ago from a visionary understanding that ‘traditional’ PR was no longer the best way to support brands. So we fashioned a network of specialists with a common, shared goal: to design and create content and fresh “news” on behalf of our clients.
Tell us about your business.
The Creative specializes in dreaming up and then implementing ‘creative’, out-of-the-box activations that produce content that will be communicated to the media. But because PR has become a catchall term for broader brand support, our efforts are also designed to support sales and marketing, and to dominate social presence.
We offer our fashion, tech and lifestyle clients the following services: media visibility, content creation, event production, branding, orchestrating collaborations, influencer acquisition and activations, and social media consulting and management.
I have worked throughout my career with luxury brands including:
- Paco Rabanne
- Cole Haan
- Kimora Lee Simmons
- Maria Sharapova
- Hermes of Paris
- Frederique Constant
- Melissa Shoes with Karl Lagerfeld
- Melissa Shoes with Jeremy Scott
- Les Copains
- Edmundo Castillo
- Philippe Starck with Ipanema
- Martone Cycling
- MPG Sport with Julianne Hough
- True Gault
- Nora Kogan
- Leigh Bantivoglio
- JewelMint with Kate Bosworth
- HomeMint with Justin Timberlake and many more!
Where is your business based?
The Creative is based in the Flatiron District of NYC, but my team is increasingly mobile with clients spread across many continents. We have a satellite office in LA and are exploring expansion to Europe right now.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
First and foremost I engaged the network I had built over the years, particularly of other entrepreneurial women. I leveraged those relationships, and structurally thought ‘outside of the box’. I invited other freelancers and entrepreneurs to work with me on various clients, and vice versa I partnered with “sister” agencies on their own projects, amassing some impressive case studies and client experiences along the way.
Then I began to truly think like a client – pondering what services and support I would ultimately need if I were the founder of a said brand. I’m passionate about supporting emerging designers and brands, and catering to their specific and (very) individual needs has allowed me to create much deeper client-publicist relationships than in a traditional agency setting.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Truly, word of mouth is still the very best way to drive our business. Referrals from trusted media and professionals from all of fashion’s peripheral industries have earned the business of every current client we have.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
The biggest challenge is how we evolve with changes in the media, in shopping behavior, and with the economy.
How did you overcome these challenges?
PR today is all about adaptation. The job has totally changed as the world adapts to a very saturated and competitive ‘new media’ space (social media platforms, etc.). And as this shift continues to happen, we are watching traditional brick-and-mortar retail crumble. The shift to direct-to-consumer retail is gaining momentum by the day, and that parallel of eliminating the ‘middle man’ is prevalent in both how consumers get their news and ultimately how they shop.
We have adapted our strategy in a large way to:
- Be more data-driven via assessment of current consumer behavior.
- To speak more directly to the public through utilization of an unending bevy of new media platforms at our disposal.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
Being a part of this radical shift in media and how and where brands communicate is an ever-moving puzzle – but it’s exciting! There’s so much theory involved in not only interpreting the changing face of media, but also in the prediction of how it will evolve in 1, 2, 3 years down the road. How brands successfully navigate the digital world is a bit like the ‘Wild West’ – and it’s fun to be a trailblazer!
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
I don’t like being called a PR “agency.” The term itself feels impersonal, and so limiting. From day one our mission has been: fewer clients, an individualized, 360° support structure, more personalized attention – and a creative approach to storytelling.
Nothing The Creative does is formulaic. Each client is handled differently, and the services we provide are personalized to their needs. We focus primarily on PR, branding and marketing, but we also offer social media content creation, creative direction and more. We’re involved to the point that we often are invited to design and produce meetings so we are involved from the process of bringing product to market, soup-to-nuts.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
The best recent advice I heard was “You’re always only one decision away from a completely different life.” It’s such an exciting, empowering statement!
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Set goals, even when you can’t see how you will get there. Revel in the uncertainty, because that’s what sets the winners apart. Uncertainty should be celebrated, because that’s where possibility and opportunity are hiding.
I had a notion that I wanted to own my own company in NYC before I was 30 years old. I knew I was an entrepreneur at heart, but the path forward to my goal wasn’t always clear. Blindly trust the process and always keep moving forward.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
I often profess my unyielding love for the Dropbox app. That may sound simplistic, but we’re operating in a world where content, content, content runs the show. We accumulate imagery, videos, and inspiration – while banking endless assets for our clients. Having that magically stored lets me work wherever I am, even in the sky.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
“Disrobed: How Clothing Predicts Economic Cycles, Saves Lives, and Determines the Future” by Syl Tang. Her take on the economic implications of the fashion industry is fascinating. Developing a deeper understanding of the economic affectations in our industry feels increasingly crucial to being able to offer top-level brand strategy.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
From a macro level, The Creative is focused on “reinventing PR” right now and how we tailor strategies that reflect how media and retail are evolving. On the micro level, we’re working to grow our internal team of content producers: graphic designers, videographers, creative copywriters and more who can tell brand stories in captivating, unexpected ways.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
Our goal right now is to deepen our engagement in our clients’ marketing endeavors. We are regularly growing our expertise by getting “down and dirty” with statistical analysis. We’re looking at Google Ad placement, SEO, social media arcs and engagement – the more we inform ourselves on each client’s individual consumer base, the more effective and successful our PR/marketing/branding strategies become. We’re also working to embrace “new media” more – expanding further our relationships with media channels like YouTube and podcasts.
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