Jordana Levine: “Never underestimate the power of kindness”

Growing up I was very shy. I started to come out of my shell in college, but it wasn’t until I started my career in PR when my timid demeanor faded away. I was being pushed out of my comfort zone every single day, having to speak up on behalf of myself and my clients […]

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Growing up I was very shy. I started to come out of my shell in college, but it wasn’t until I started my career in PR when my timid demeanor faded away. I was being pushed out of my comfort zone every single day, having to speak up on behalf of myself and my clients to successfully achieve results. Being thrown into this fast-paced industry where communication skills are vital was truly one of the best things to happen to me because it made me realize just how much my opinion mattered and how important it is to ask for what you want in life.

As a part of my series about the things you need to know to excel in the modern PR industry, I had the pleasure of interviewingJordana Levine, a Senior Account Executive in the Talent Department at Brandsway Creative in NYC.

Jordana is a dynamic public relations professional who represents a wide array of Talent, ranging from Supermodels, Actors, Designers, Authors, Musicians & Content Creators. As Senior Account Executive at Brandsway Creative, Jordana oversees a team of Account Executives to develop results-driven public relations campaigns. These campaigns include securing top-tier media placements, positioning clients to be at the forefront of media opportunities, strategic social coordination, and raising her clients’ overall profiles while building up their long-term brands.

Jordana spearheads the Fashion Week division at Brandsway Creative, ushering her clients to top runway shows and red carpet events for New York, Milan, and Paris Fashion Weeks. Behind the scenes, Jordana takes pride in strategically building client schedules, nurturing relationships with key designers, and positioning talent for maximum visibility. Jordana does the same for clients attending major international events including Cannes Film Festival, Art Basel, Miami Swim Week, Coachella, and Superbowl 2020 as well as industry events throughout the year.

Notable campaigns Jordana has worked on include press surrounding her clients’ involvement in previous issues of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, Victoria’s Secret Runway Show, charities including Operation Smile, No Bully and No Dog’s Left Behind, Women’s Entrepreneur Day Summit at the United Nations, Beautycon, and network TV shows Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing NY, CBS’s God Friended Me and BET’s Family Business, to name a few.

Jordana graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Fashion Merchandising and Product Development, where she held positions as Director of Women’s Wear and Accessories Director for Swatch Magazine, the school’s fashion publication.

Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Growing up in Suburban Atlanta, I always had big dreams of moving to New York City. One of my earliest memories dates back to the prime age of 6, when I wrote about wanting to be a Fashion Designer when I grew up. I remember flipping through my mom’s stack of weekly entertainment magazines, completely captivated by the elaborate gowns and intricate styles featured on celebrities from the red carpet. Fast forward 14 years while studying fashion abroad in Paris and London for a summer, where this dream rapidly progressed. This international experience opened my eyes to the phenomenon known as Fashion Week and I became enthralled with learning everything there was to know about this spectacular bi-annual event. It motivated me to book a one-way flight to NYC post-graduation, where I landed an interview with PR Maven and owner of Brandsway Creative, Kelly Brady, who offered me a position as her assistant. Now 4 years later, I’m proud to be heading the Talent department at the firm.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?

As I entered the exciting world of Talent PR, I quickly fell in love with the industry because no two days were ever the same. I could truly write a book compiling the hundreds of interesting experiences I have encountered over these last few years. From escorting clients to A-List movie premieres, art galas, and charity events in NYC to coordinating street style shoots in Milan with photographers who don’t speak English. To filming branded content at the Eiffel Tower amidst the pouring rain, to chasing down Ubers when clients have accidentally left behind phones or personal belongings. We wear many hats as publicists and the plethora of interesting stories have all been learning experiences, helping to shape me into the publicist I am today.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Mistakes are an inevitable part of starting a new job, and I definitely made my fair share in the beginning. I’ve shown up for events on a wrong day and I’ve shown up to the wrong event venues on the right day. One time I even forgot about an event altogether and was forced to wear a co-worker’s pair of heels that were 2 sizes too big to it…needless to say, I spent the night stumbling around fully focused on not falling down. One of the biggest lessons I rapidly learned is how important it is to pay attention to detail. Oh, and to always keep an extra pair of shoes at the office 🙂

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

With the current state of the world amidst COVID-19, I have witnessed firsthand how the industry is shifting to adjust to this new normal. My clients have had their photoshoots converted to being shot over FaceTime, book readings, and musical performances rescheduled to virtual segments, and interviews now taking the form of live takeovers with different outlets on Instagram. It has been fascinating to brainstorm innovative ways of garnering results for my clients while staying mindful of the present situation. One of the most exciting projects I’m currently working on is partnering my clients with charities that are providing relief during this time, in order to help expand the charity’s reach and maximize their efforts. It’s been such a rewarding experience and is so inspiring to see industries coming together to lend their support.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started in PR” and why?

· Speak up and have a voice

Growing up I was very shy. I started to come out of my shell in college, but it wasn’t until I started my career in PR when my timid demeanor faded away. I was being pushed out of my comfort zone every single day, having to speak up on behalf of myself and my clients to successfully achieve results. Being thrown into this fast-paced industry where communication skills are vital was truly one of the best things to happen to me because it made me realize just how much my opinion mattered and how important it is to ask for what you want in life.

· Build quality relationships

This goes for all aspects of life, but specifically for the business of PR, forming genuine connections with clients, editors and other publicists is essential. For every hundred editors I blindly pitch, only a few of my emails might receive responses. But when reaching out to someone I already have a relationship with, the chances increase dramatically. When it comes to my role as a Talent Publicist, I believe the better I know my client as a person, the better equipped I am to represent them. Some tips I’ve relied on are having an open line of communication, always being honest and transparent, and showing my clients my authentic self!

· Be ready when opportunity knocks

I can’t stress how important it is to not only notice when an opportunity arises but to be prepared to do whatever it takes to secure the opportunity while it’s present. My dream of attending Paris Fashion Week was one of the driving forces that pushed me to pursue a career in PR. In February 2019, after having just completed my sixth NY Fashion Week as a Talent Publicist, one of my clients mentioned she was interested in attending the upcoming Paris Fashion Week set for the end of the month. The company had never had an employee attend an International Fashion Week, but I saw this as an incredible opportunity to heavily raise my client’s visibility and expand the company’s reach all while fulfilling my dream. Long story short, when this opportunity knocked, I opened the door which led me to board a flight to Paris with less than 48 hours’ notice 🙂

· Teamwork is the key to BIG success

o My team at Brandsway has grown to be like my second family. We are such a tight-knit and supportive team and I am constantly running ideas by my colleagues, excited by the inspiration I receive in return. When I started my career at Brandsway, I was a 22-year-old fresh out of college, and over the years my senior colleagues and boss Kelly have offered such valuable guidance, helping to mold me into the publicist I am today. In addition, many of the incredible work experiences I’ve had thus far have been made possible through the collaboration of our strong, hardworking team, and for that, I am so grateful.

· Never underestimate the power of kindness

o One simple act of kindness can go a long way and you don’t have to put people down in order to get ahead. I know it’s been said a million times before, but The Golden Rule “Treat Others How You Want to Be Treated” is applicable in conducting business as well. The PR industry is extremely collaborative and people prefer to work with those who treat them well. Being kind doesn’t entail weakness and you aren’t giving away your power by treating others with respect. Stand your ground and don’t settle on non-negotiables, but I believe maintaining a kind and compassionate composure will make the job all the more successful and ENJOYABLE!

You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?

Thank you, that’s sweet of you! I can honestly say networking is one of the most powerful skills I use on a daily basis… like it’s said, “it’s not what you know, but who you know”. One of the biggest tips I can share is how important I feel it is to approach networking in a genuine and authentic way. I can immediately sense when someone is talking to me for the sole purpose of getting something in return vs. being actually interested in getting to know me on a personal level. The job of a publicist is not the typical 9–5 career and some of my greatest connections have been farmed organically and in non-professional environments, just by striking up conversations of genuine interest. Another important tip is to be a great listener. Everyone wants their voice to be heard and to feel understood. By being present and listening with the intent of learning more about the person, you are creating a valuable opportunity for both of you.

Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?

Absolutely. I’d say it all goes back to applying the strategies that comprise the backbone of the PR industry: network and build quality relationships. These tactics have helped me tremendously in generating good, qualified leads. Whether it be meeting potential clients at industry events or having existing clients make referrals, it’s important to put yourself out there and stay open to connecting with new people. Persistent yet polite follow up is also key to turning qualified leads into a successful business.

Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?

I’ve read my fair share of books focused on business and self-help, such as The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, but I’d say what has helped me the most in my career has been the Fashion and Entertainment News outlets. From Vogue to the Daily Front Row to entertainment magazines like People, I try to read the headlines and top stories daily. This practice ensures that I’m up to date on the latest industry trends and keeps me thinking about how I can use this knowledge to help further my client’s careers.

Because of the role you play, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’m going to expand on one of my previously mentioned tips — a movement I hope to inspire is one centered around kindness, encouraging individuals to treat others with greater compassion both in and out of the workplace. We live in a cutthroat society. Failures are often highlighted and words are exchanged in rude and demeaning ways. I think it would be of great benefit if we took a step back to recognize that we are all human and that the simple act of treating others in a nice and friendly manner can be of immense value for the business. Take the time to write a handwritten thank-you note. Congratulate a colleague on a recent accomplishment. Get to know your clients on a personal level. Train yourself to look for positives in even the toughest of situations. Kindness is contagious and even just one small act can go a long way.

This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.

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