Name: Kyle Schmitz, 32
Salary: $90,000 to $110,000
Position: Public relations consultant specializing in hospitality, lifestyle and nonprofit clients.
What She Does: Schmitz represents high-profile restaurants, product labels, hotels and nonprofit organizations, serving as their main point of media contact. Her client list includes Catoctin Creek Distilling Co., Dolci Gelati, 2941 Restaurant, Pizzeria Orso and the C.L.A.Y. Foundation, among others. On any given day, Schmitz could be overseeing the filming of TV segments featuring her clients, writing news releases, arranging interviews, brainstorming social media strategies or hosting food writers for an indulgent meal at a client’s restaurant.
“It’s about taking a client or brand’s story, really digging in and dissecting it — and then sharing that story with everyone possible,” Schmitz says.
How She Got the Job: Schmitz used to be on the other side of the PR-media equation. She spent three years interning and working as a TV producer in New York City. Publicists would approach her to pitch stories about their clients. That piqued her interest in working in PR, and Schmitz eventually asked a publicist acquaintance to help her switch gears, career-wise.
She started at the very bottom, as a junior publicist and executive assistant at the PR firm Rubenstein Associates in 2005.
“The money wasn’t great, but the experience was priceless,” Schmitz says. She worked with high-profile local, regional and national clients in a variety of fields (including real estate, consumer brands and hospitality), and it didn’t take long before she realized she wanted to specialize in hospitality, working with restaurants, entertainment venues and luxury lifestyle brands, among other clients.
It was a niche she could trace back to her childhood: “I had live-in nannies from around the world. They exposed me to a diverse range of foods,” she says. “When I started working for some of these huge chefs, I realized hospitality was just home for me. Food is culture, it’s history, it’s memories.”
In 2010, Schmitz moved back to the Washington area and, not long afterward, she went into business for herself. “When you’re starting a company, reputation is everything,” she says. “You don’t just have to meet expectations, you have to exceed them.”
Who Would Want This Job? If you want to pursue marketing, you’d better be a good communicator. And the hours can be rough, Schmitz admits, so time management is key.
“My biggest problem is not being able to clone myself,” she jokes. Just last month, two events involving a number of her clients overlapped. Both lasted late into the night, but Schmitz couldn’t stay at either; she needed to be up at
4 a.m. the next day for a national media tour with another client.
A love of the product you’re pitching is also important: For Schmitz, there’s plenty of great food and drink to sample at work.
How You Can Get This Job: A communications background is important. Schmitz studied TV production, journalism, public relations and advertising in college.
Schmitz recommends doing as many internships as you can. If that’s not possible, you can gain valuable experience by volunteering at events.
Whether you’re straight out of college or switching to this career from another field, connections are key, Schmitz says. “Network, network, network,” Schmitz says. Check industry-focused publications and resources, such as Bulldog Reporter, PR Week and O’Dwyer’s — but don’t be afraid to go beyond the typical job search: Schmitz recommends researching and connecting directly with brands that interest you to inquire about open positions. You never know who might need a publicist.