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New Year’s Resolutions That Don’t Involve Losing Weight

Call Home More Often
I am not someone who misses people. Maybe my dog from time to time but even he slips my mind most of the time. It’s so easy to get caught up in life and forget it’s normal to check in on people. I’m one of those people who believes relationships can stay the same even without daily communication. Maintaining relationships with high school friends through text is definitely not my strong suit but even worse, calling home almost never happens. I am an only child and my hard working mom is home alone with the dog for almost a year now. It’s time I become an adult and learn to pick up the phone. How often do you call home?

Leave Work On Time
This is a big one. Our generation has shown a significant increase in the importance work has in our lives. I have experienced extreme work overload on behalf of pressure from management but mainly from myself. Yes, work is important. It is what puts food in our mouth and it takes up the majority of our time which is why it is so hard to disassociate work from life. Working is not your life, but a part of it. Learning to maintain a challenging work environment and a fulfilling life after 5pm will be this year’s challenge. Try to stay organized and prioritize important deadlines so you don’t feel obligated to work overtime allowing you to tend to hobbies and extracurriculars.

Stop Buying Cheap Alcohol
Face it, we are not in college anymore. sigh The days of buying the cheapest handle of vodka should be over. Traveler’s Club Vodka, this is directed towards you – and also peach Xclusive (dry heaves). I live a block away from a Trader Joe’s Wine store which has sales on bottles of wine as low as $3! Yeah, that’s an amazing deal but realistically, how good is that wine going to taste? Frat parties are a thing of the past so let’s leave binging on cheap beers there too. Try to make your alcohol purchases meaningful. Stock up your bar cart with spirits you can easily incorporate into multiple cocktails but are a great staple on their own as well. Although the point is to elevate your palette, don’t feel the need to spend ridiculous $$. Here are a few cost-efficient, high-quality spirits to fill your cart with – Espolon Tequila Blanco, Ketel One Cucumber & Mint, Maker’s Mark Whiskey

Finish Your Beauty Products Before Buying New Ones
I am 100% guilty of the mentality that more is better. We waste so much money on buying the new it cream or the new it dry shampoo. The industry tricks us into thinking we need newer, better all the time by repackaging, releasing limited edition products or adding free gifts with your purchase. As a hoarder, I understand the appeal of fully stocked drawers of beauty products only tested once or twice. I recently threw out hundreds of dollars worth of makeup and skincare I have accumulated throughout the last three years of internships and jobs because everything had expired. I have been using the same eyeshadow and contour palettes for almost two years now and repurchase the same liquid eyeliner every time it runs dry, so why do I need all that other sh*t? 2019 will be a year of minimalistic beauty habits.

Start Caring About the Environment
Piggybacking off the last resolution, 2019 should be the year you really take a good look around. Instead of adding to the problem, become a solution. I never really thought it was important to recycle or support green initiatives until I moved to the city and saw everyone doing their part. And not in that, “I am giving food to the homeless so I can post about it on Facebook or make a YouTube video about it” way. Every time I go to the grocery store I see people with reusable bags. More and more I am seeing people bring their own reusable travel mugs to Starbucks and the list goes on. Small actions like these may seem like they do nothing but as a whole, we are helping the environment one reusable bag at a time. Just under 25% of plastic is recycled a year. In order to contribute to the solution, my goal for this year is to begin using metal straws (as I drink absolutely everything through a plastic straw). What can you do or have been doing to become part of the solution? Share tips with me so I can incorporate into my lifestyle too!

Tips for Finding the Perfect Airbnb for Your Vacation

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Know What You Want

It’s important to have a general idea of what you’re looking for. What is the purpose of your stay? Are you looking for the cheapest option or are you interested in a unique getaway? I like to look for places that are very different than my own home with unique features. The great thing about staying at an Airbnb is immersing yourself in the culture of that area and staying in a place that reflects just that. Hotel rooms are pretty cookie cutter but with Airbnb, you can stay at some really cool places you may never have the opportunity to see. Make a check list and find a place that ticks off all your boxes; air conditioning, on-site parking, bath tub, skylight etc. You can get as creative as you want because the options are limitless.

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Plan Ahead of Time

I recommend traveling with a plan. Do a few quick searches online and scope out the sites and restaurants you’re interested in. Make sure your Airbnb is in the general area of the places you want to visit or is at least a good midway point between them. This will really help narrow down your options. If you’re headed on a road trip and will be bringing a car, make sure to check the listing or ask your host if there is on-site parking. And if you don’t plan on having a car, look for other means of transportation in the area such as buses, trolleys or city bikes.

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Pay Attention to Photos

The quality of photos can tell you a lot about the space. Blurry photos with poor lighting can often mean the host is trying hide something. If there are a lot of close-up photos of random plants, pillows etc. it’s a sure sign something is up. Of course, this can also mean the host is simply a bad photographer but take that with a grain of salt. IPhones can take great photos even in low light so there really shouldn’t be an excuse for bad pictures especially when you’re paying someone for their space. You want to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into and you expect to get what you see in those pictures. Try to find listings that show all the rooms. If the bathroom isn’t shown, odds are it’s small or in poor shape. Small details like this can really help guide you in your search.

IMG_5572Read the Reviews

If a listing has less than five reviews, it’s either new to the market or it’s not a wanted space. Find out. What are people writing about? You can easily find out about the cleanliness and condition of the space from reviews. Most people don’t hold back if they had a bad experience. Reviews are very helpful for small details you won’t get from the listing. For example, if you have a bad back you may want to see if anyone writes about the firmness of the mattress. Another comment I love seeing is about the shower water pressure. There’s nothing I can’t stand more than a half assed shower. Other things to look out for are any complaints of pet odor or any small children living above or below if the listing is in an apartment building. Traveling can be stressful enough, you don’t need a crying baby keeping you from a good nights rest.

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Netflix and Chill

I always like to keep my eyes out for listings with added perks! Some hosts like to go above and beyond to make their guests feel more than welcome. A fully stocked kitchen with snacks and drinks or access to a guest Netflix account are just a few cool add-ons you can find. You can find out about these perks by reading reviews or even asking the host.

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Get to Know Your Host

Some of the best experiences stem from an awesome host. I know many of us prefer not to interact with strangers but there are definite benefits to sending a simple message to say hello. If your host is cool, they can recommend restaurants and bars tourists may not know about. Airbnb also has an “experience” option. If your host offers an experience, it might be worth looking into. You can learn about the culture of the area your in or just make a friend in another city!

 

What You Need to Know Before Your Career in Public Relations

I have worked at a number of prestigious agencies in New York City and have learned a thing or two about what to do, what not to do and what you can expect. As a twenty-three year old professional, I definitely do not have all the answers but I have collected some key take-aways that will make you think twice about nose diving into this crazy industry. If you are seriously considering entering the world of Public Relations whether that be fashion, beauty, lifestyle, travel etc. here are a few things to keep in mind.

I think it’s a well known fact we all put “proficient in excel” on our resumes but when push comes to shove, how do excel formulas even work? I was in the same boat. Efficient, but didn’t know the first thing about creating spreadsheets. I am here to tell you that I use excel every single day. Let me emphasize; every. single. day. Do yourself a favor and watch a few youtube tutorials on the basics of excel. It will make you look like less of a liar on your resume and those skills will make your job significantly easier.

Writing needs to be your strong suit but if it’s not (yet) that’s okay.  I think you have to enjoy crafting articulated sentences and know how to get your point across in as little words as possible to be a truly great writer. This takes time. I am not the world’s greatest writer but the more releases you write, the more emails you send, the better you become. My advice is to research releases online. Pick your favorite company and search for their most recent press releases. You can see the verbiage they choose and start recognizing differences in tone. Ultimately, writing is hard but with practice this can become your strongest skill set.

Asking questions is a very important skill. But asking questions you know the answer to, is the number one cause of passive aggressive emails and lack of trust. Take a step back and think about what it is you are trying to accomplish. Make a list of possible solutions. If none of those solutions work, you may then ask questions based on your attempts to solve it on your own. This shows everyone you are willing to take on a managerial role as well as can think critically.

Double Dog DARE yourself to DOUBLE CHECK EVERYTHING. Attention to detail is so so important. The subject line of an email to a client cannot show it has been forwarded. Your emails have to be spell checked. If someone asks you about inventory, you better check twice before saying you don’t have the item. Re-read your work and even go a step further and have someone else check it if it’s something super important. Small details are what make the biggest differences.

PR isn’t always ground breaking work, especially not at the beginning. It’s a lot of stuffing gift bags, sending mail, making lists, and researching people/events/locations. It’s easy to get discouraged by busy work but if you love this field, you need to understand the funnel. All work is important from the CEO down to the interns. Every job has a purpose and plays a role in the bigger picture. Keep your head high, appreciate and understand why it is these small tasks will become the building blocks and foundation of your career.

This industry allows us to work in a creative space among other outgoing and outspoken individuals. It’s easy to get caught up in the fun and lose your sense of professionalism. Make sure you maintain a level head even when speaking casually with a friendly co-worker. You never know who is watching and who hears you. Things can very easily be taken out of context and explaining yourself down the road never pans out in quite the right way. Events especially, are a space where you have to watch yourself. There is often alcohol flowing and mini apps circulating setting a casual mood. Even though you are around fun people having a great time, remember you are there for work not pleasure. Key take away here is to keep your surroundings in mind and act accordingly.

Not all clients are created equal. You will work with brands that have awesome products and are progressive and eager to work with you on a partnership level. But there will also be clients who are rude and difficult to work with. They will be tired and stuck in their old ways. This type of client is challenging but it is your job to show passion and enthusiasm for the brand while maintaining a positive and respectful relationship that leads to great success. As a great publicist, you need to be able to make the client trust in you and have faith your efforts will result in great press.

9-5 isn’t a thing. Sorry to burst your bubble. If you are looking for a job where you can clock in and clock out, you’re in the wrong field. This is a 24/7 job. Even when you’re not at your desk, you’re in bed checking social media, you’re thinking about the work that needs to be done when you get back to the office. It’s a fast-moving and stressful environment. It becomes your life and if you’re not ready to have your job be a part of your life, then you’re not meant to work in public relations. I love seeing something on social media and thinking about how I can apply that with my brands. I love learning new skills and applications that can help me better myself as a PR professional. My surroundings become my job because I allow it to. Give yourself up to your job because you want to, not because you have to. This is when you really need to take a step back and assess if this is what is right for you.

Handling stress 101. If you don’t handle stress well, you won’t survive in this industry. It is a fast moving, super chaotic and deadline ridden industry full of people looking to get ahead of one another. You better believe there will be grey hairs on that pretty little head of yours after a few years but it’s how you manage your time that separates you from those who can handle stress and those who cannot. Evaluate what is important and what can hang out on the back burner for the time being. Knowing how to prioritize and most importantly, how to not let stress affect your relationships within your work and personal life is extremely vital. I personally work better under pressure which is why I am good at my job. You can be successful too, if you find a way to manage stress that works for you.

A boss of mine once told me that us millennials are snow flakes. We are afraid to step out of our comfort zone and are perfectly fine staying in the sanctuary of our bubbles. This type of attitude, this “snowflake” mentality will get you nowhere. If you never take risks and can’t accept a challenge, you won’t grow as an individual and you will never climb the corporate ladder. Standing still is just about as bad as taking steps backwards. Hitting a plateau means two things; you are comfortable and you are unmotivated. Find something that scares you and challenge yourself to overcome that fear. Falling flat on your face trying something new shows initiative and teaches you perseverance. Take it upon yourself to push through difficult tasks and prove to yourself you can accomplish anything if you try. Remember, the world owes you nothing. You are the only one who can make things happen.

PR is ever evolving. It’s no longer getting clients into national magazines. Those days are gone. National pubs are folding every day and media has transitioned into digital content. Now it’s the Allure.com’s and the Byrdie’s and Popsugar’s that are driving sales. PR has transitioned into orchestrating organic relationships with influencers and editors who have large social followings of their own. Youtube has become a go-to platform for ambassadors and persuaders. And while some aspects of traditional pr remain, marketing and advertising are slowly creeping into a singular category morphing into a one stop-shop. We are becoming creative agencies rather than PR or advertising or marketing. We are now creating the tactical strategies, developing the business plans, laying out the social roadmaps and intertwining them with creativity.

Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions or want advice about a career in public relations. I am happy to chat and let you in on some other insider details I may not have mentioned here.

xo,

Nicole

Evil Eye Accent Wall: DIY IKEA HACK

Last year I painted my room completely white. I’m talking white walls, white furniture, white curtains, the whole 9 yards. I needed a change from my gray walls and orange accented pillows I slept in for the last four years. I wanted something more “adult-like” and something I wouldn’t get bored of after a few months. The great thing about having a white room is being able to decorate it with whatever color palette you want and being able to change up the entire look and feel with only a few throw pillows. But the bad thing about having an all white room is having to actually decorate it. My mom had hesitations about my all white room because of its #hospitalvibes but I knew I would be able to make it my own. Unfortunately, up until now I haven’t been able to really make it that. Call it interior design block.

Last week I was strolling through Ikea, aka the land of the meatballs and home of the lingonberry juice. Ikea finally introduced some new artwork to their collection and it was very refreshing seeing something other than an oversized Audrey Hepburn, a foggy bridge, and a London landscape with a double decker. You know exactly which paintings i’m referring to and this is how we know Ikea was long over due for some newness. In the corner of the art section, I stumbled upon some decals from the new SPRIDD collection, a limited edition print-based collection of vibrant must-haves perfect for modern nomads. One decal pack in particular caught my eye which contained two abstract looking eyes, a nose and a mouth. Not exactly sure who would want or need a face like this on their wall but I immediately thought of an Urban Outfitters pillow I saw a some time ago.  Evil Eye Ikea Hack 4.jpg

Unfortunately the pillow is no longer available but here is similar option if you are in the market for an eye pillow. This decal pack is not available online and is only sold in certain Ikea stores so if you’d like to pick these up, definitely call your local Ikea ahead of time to see if they carry them before you make the trip. Each pack is $10, a steal in my opinion for such a large sized decal. I bought three packs. In total, I spent $30 on this wall.

In order to make sure I liked the final look of the wall, I played around with the placement of each decal before completely committing to sticking them on. I took a pair of scissors and cut each decal out to have separate pieces instead of one large sheet. Then, I put two piece of tape on the back and stuck them on the wall where I thought they would look great. Once happy with the placement, I took off the back piece of paper on the decal and stuck each onto the wall for good. Although they are sticky, they are not so permanent that you cannot remove them without ripping off chunks of paint. Just remember, each time you remove them, they will lose a little bit of their stickiness allowing them to eventually peel off the wall before you are ready to take them off. So my best advice, have someone stick the decals on and have a friend watch from a far to make sure the placement looks good before committing to a spot.

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The overall labor of this project is so minimal, it’s hard to even call it a “project”. For $30, I was able to completely transform a bare space into a cool tumblr-esque accent wall giving my room the character it was missing. And although these eyes are “eye catching”, they are minimal enough to match any other patterns or textures I may add to my room in the future.

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Let me know in the comments if you like how this mini project came out and if you would ever consider giving your room an accent wall like this.

xo,

Nicole