There are an endless amount of misconceptions about the infamous fashion industry. It is perceived to be a never ending stampede of exquisitely dressed people who are willing to trample anyone in their way in order to get their dream job. Luckily for those hoping to join the chaos, according to Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival’s digital marketing executive, Prue Chilcott, it’s not nearly anything like what we see in films, and for the first time, the reality is a lot better than what we thought.
Imagine you have the power to speak on behalf of a major organisation that not only hosts a nationally renowned fashion festival, but an organisation that heavily influences the Australian fashion industry. You would have a dramatic influence over a variety of people simply through social media. The new age of fashion marketing has changed the way a digital society stays in the know. Now, with the touch of a ‘share’ button, anyone can send a photo viral, revolutionising traditional fashion media, tripling the success and awareness of an event. Anyone can do it, but not everyone can utilise the skills of traditional marketing strategies and combine them with social media to create an influence that speaks to different audiences on different levels. In the case of VAMFF, Prue Chilcott is the person who has this power.
Firstly, Prue presents herself in an incredibly friendly light. She radiates a genuine nature and has an admirable aura of confidence. Dressed comfortably but looking ever so stylish, she proves that she most definitely is “cool enough” to be the voice of the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, even on a freezing Melbourne morning when you would rather be in bed sleeping, and not at work in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD. For aspiring public relations students, take note of Prue Chilcott, who has come a long way in her career in a short time.
Prue began this stage of her career with VAMFF in November 2014, once she returned to work from maternity leave. Her job as the digital marketing executive leaves her responsible for all online communications involving VAMFF, including all social media, the VAMFF website, emails, and their blog, In Detail, which she helped to launch at the end of 2014. Prue is also a features writer for the acclaimed Australian blog, Melbourne Girl. When not at work she is busy enjoying motherhood and helping her husband with the financial side to his business. Is there anything that Prue isn’t doing?
If there is one thing that Prue says gets her through her busy days, it is the passion that she has for her work: “If you’re driven by doing what you love then it’s not work”, she said. “I really love working here, I love writing for Melbourne Girl, I love being a mum and doing simple things like making dinner every night and reading a magazine. I don’t want to miss out on any of those things”. The fear of missing out is proving to work for this busy Melbourne mum, as she runs through her daily routine of waking up at 5:30am to write before her baby wakes up, she makes it seem almost too easy to be able to balance a family life and a successful career in the Australian fashion industry. With students hoping to get into the same industry, Prue makes it obvious that the best way to find your self in her shoes in the future is to work hard and consistently: “[The fashion industry] It’s really competitive, no one is going to tell you that anyone who works in fashion just waltzed in”. Emphasising the importance of nailing the hard skills of marketing and public relations, Prue recommends that you always follow your passions, but keep in mind that it’s not always possible to get the job you want straight away. Prue got into public relations work through an internship as a receptionist at a PR agency following her studies, and then eventually got promoted to a PR assistant “it’s a round about way of getting there, but if you have an ultimate goal, scrabble your way to get there!”
Prue graduated from Monash University in 2009 and since then she has worked for some highly reputable companies in their PR and marketing departments, such as The Style Counsel, the Coles group, and George Patterson Y&R. Within these roles, Prue managed to expand her experience in the broad marketing communications industry. Following in her example, she advises that students should “never think that they are too good to do anything”, after all, it was these particular experiences outside of the fashion industry that got her to her position as VAMFF’s digital marketing executive.
Although fashion communications is competitive, judging by Prue’s personality and experience, our impressions of the unbearably chaotic fashion industry are far from the truth… “There’s a preconceived notion that it’s a fluffy industry, but some of the smartest and savviest people that I’ve ever worked with have been in the fashion industry”.
It’s important that students remember that any progress within marcoms is progress towards your ultimate career goal; Prue advises that you “find passion in what you’re doing… If you’re marketing electrical tools, make them the best goddamn electrical tools the world has ever seen”. As a graduate working for the Coles group, Prue was apart of the product development department, and during her first week, she had to cook around eighty different sausages, testing and preparing for Coles to launch a new brand of sausages… “I had never really cooked before because I had been living at home, and I thought ‘I did not go to university for five years to be cooking 80 sausages!’”
All of Prue’s hard work has brought her far in her six-year career, and now Prue continues to use her traditional marketing skills to bring the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival to life in the months between the main events. She continues to write for Melbourne Girl and juggle all of this work with a family, and she manages well, after all she does “have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyoncé”.
A special thanks to Prue Chilcott for her time and for being so supportive and helpful, and for managing to inspire and motivate me and anyone looking to go down the fashion marketing path!