After 15 years in PR Tiffany has seen the good, the bad, and the downright hilarious of the fashion/beauty/lifestyle world. This pocket of the PR & Media industry is made up of creative, friendly, clever people with their finger on the pulse – so she created Social Diary in 2005 out of the dire need for everyone to finally share their information and work together, rather than against each other.
The concept is simple: a calendar to avoid clashing media events, and an informative weekly newsletter so we can all stay in the loop and get involved in each other’s projects. There’s lots more stuff too – including the ability to search for contacts for thousands of celebrities, brands and journos; a Celebrity Calendar so you know who’s coming to town and how to contact them; and most importantly, the Social Diary Xmas Parties so we can all go crazy at the end of the year. In addition, Tiffany is the PR for Australia’s much-loved chef, Curtis Stone.
Describe yourself in 3 words: Adventurous, curious, spirited.
What is your life motto? Always do something that terrifies you.
When did you start pursuing your career and how long did it take to become successful? Straight out of school I started investigating the industry and went on to uni. If you equate success with simple job satisfaction then it happened right away – I have always loved this industry and the jobs I’ve been lucky enough to have. Success in the form of financial success and recognition came at age 28 when I started my own business, Breakfast PR & Events and then Social Diary soon after.
How much time and effort did you dedicate to pursuing your dream? All of it! When you work in PR/Events your work life becomes enmeshed in your social life so I have always basically lived & breathed it.
What are the challenges in your line of work? Having to always keep ahead of the game technology-wise and to always innovate. I am bursting with ideas but I have to separate the real opportunities from the rest, as I need to raise the money first before undergoing any site development. From day one I chose not to have any partners or investors, so money has always been the issue when I’ve wanted to expand – but it feels good to know that the company is all mine and I didn’t need a cent from anyone to get it off the ground. Social Diary is constantly evolving, and it’s this part of the business that I really enjoy.
What is the mistake that taught you an extremely valuable lesson? I’m stuck on this one!!!
What is the best piece of advice you have been given to date? Do what you love doing and you’ll never work a day in your life. My Dad told me this at a young age and encouraged me to pursue a career that I really enjoyed. I was scared to tell him that after 4 months I wanted to drop out of my Economics degree, but he was so supportive. He knew I wasn’t happy so he encouraged me to transfer to Literature & Art Theory because I loved it so much, knowing full well that it wouldn’t ‘qualify’ me for anything. His father had pushed him to do law, which he hated, ended up dropping out and becoming a very successful entrepreneur. I am so grateful for his guidance; I’ve never looked back.
In your mind, is formal training essential? In this industry, I believe the writing and critical thinking aspects of related degrees is important. I did a degree in English Literature, and while it is not directly related to the industry, it honed my writing skills (1,000 essays will do that!) and taught me to research, think, and develop a voice.
Do you think having a mentor is important? How would you go about getting one for this industry? Absolutely – I fortunately have two. One is a friend who started in the industry before me, and one is an ex-boss. They have always been there throughout my career with any advice I was seeking, whether big or small. I still call them now! The way I pay them back is to pay it forward – I am a mentor to several of my old staff. I love watching them go on to achieve great things in their careers.
What are some steps those starting out can take to start/further their career? Do as MUCH work experience as possible. Arrive early, put your hand up for everything; leave late. Get noticed. The more you do, the more skills you acquire, the more contacts you make, and most importantly – the more you work out what exactly it is you want to do. It’s just as important to cross things off your list, as it is to tick them. When I was 17 I did work experience stints at The Daily Telegraph and CLEO, and while they weren’t spot-on what I wanted to do I enjoyed both experiences, and they drew me closer to hitting the bullseye with a career in PR & Events.
What kept you going when you weren’t at your best? Taking a step back. I am a mad traveller so when I feel uninspired I book a trip and come back brimming with new ideas. Once during a simple cab ride in New York back in 2006 I saw flashing screens in the backseat, which had me adding different moving images on my website (everyone had very static sites back then). Inspiration comes from everywhere!
Do you believe that ‘making it’ is about luck and being in the right place at the right time? Yes, sometimes it is. But you also conjure this sort of luck by putting yourself out there as much as possible – for example you’re not going to get a phone call out of the blue from the company you’re dying to work for. You have to send your CV, contact them, offer yourself up for work experience etc. That way you yourself has created a situation where magic can happen. You also have to recognise opportunities and know what to do with luck when you get it! I love a cartoon my Dad showed me once where a father points to a pothole and says to his son “this is a pitfall” and then points to another identical pothole and says “this is an opportunity”…of course the boy stands there looking perplexed. Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith.