The Publicist Extraordinaire on Travel, Style &
Creating Amazing Life Experiences
It is a pure delight to introduce a very inspiring friend of mine! Alice Hampton is a thriving woman in business whose outstanding career in Public Relations has led to her current role as Senior Director of Global PR for UGG. A fellow jet setter, Alice and I both call Santa Barbara home, and whenever we meet for coffee or a girl’s lunch I always have a blast hearing about her star-studded adventures, from red carpet events to glamorous photo-shoots, and all that goes down behind-the-scenes. Read our interview below for an inside peak at what it’s really like to be a major global publicist!
Tell us how you got started in PR. What did you first fall in love with about working as a publicist?
I actually fell into PR almost by accident. I had originally wanted to become a journalist. One day while at University my professor came into the lecture and told the class that an internship had just opened up at De Beers. Although hundreds of students took down the number, for some reason I was chosen. My first day working I was on a shoot with Harper’s Bazaar. Needless to say, as a young and impressionable 22 year old, from that day on I loved everything about PR. And although the reality is far from working on shoots every day, I was fortunate that this opportunity opened a door for me I didn’t realize I would grow to love so much!
Aside from your great work ethic, what do you feel has been key to your career success?
First and foremost, I am of the mindset that PR is a service industry, so I believe the best PR practitioners are the ones who go over and above to deliver a result—be it a call to action, a service, an experience, or a memory—for their audience—whether that’s a consumer, a client or the media. I think you have to humanize the brands you represent in the best light possible, so that everyone you come into contact with leaves with a positive experience, no matter how big or small the action or outcome is.
Here’s one small example I remember from years ago when I was the Communications Manager for Estée Lauder & Tom Ford in Australia. Whenever I would send a journalist overseas on a business trip, I would arrange for a hamper of fresh produce— milk, bread, eggs, fruit and vegetables, all the basic groceries you need —to arrive at their door less than an hour after they returned home, when I knew that jet lag was starting to set in. Although this had nothing to do with the product or launch they were covering, I wanted to make sure that from the second they were under my care to the second they switched off, their every need—even those they didn’t yet know they had—was met, so they not only fell in love with the brand, they fell in love with the entire experience.
Take us behind-the-scenes as Senior Director of PR for UGG Australia. What does your position involve?
That is a great question as to be honest, every day is different! I could be in a series of meetings with the rest of the leadership team, discussing strategy for upcoming seasons; writing, creating or approving press assets; liaising with the markets regarding their locally specific needs, or hosting a press event for a new launch or product. No two days are the same, which is what makes it so interesting, especially when every market is at a different level of maturation. Balancing the various needs of each market when you are also trying to deliver one comprehensive global strategy is what I find the most interesting—along with working with my team.
You travel a lot for work—how do you take care of yourself while on the road? What are your must-have products or routines you live by?
Having spent years in the beauty industry, I have been lucky to have access to some of the most amazing beauty products imaginable! My essentials are a great face hydrator or moisturizer (especially when traveling to different climates), and I never go a day without a great serum and SPF sunscreen—no matter how overcast it is outside. Apart from that I keep it fairly simple by drinking plenty ofwater, and trying to get as much rest as possible—even if it is just getting a quick 10 minute sleep in the day to rejuvenate.
As for routines, I have a few funny habits that anyone who has traveled with me will attest to: 1) I never take the airport travelators—given the hundreds of planes I catch I believe the extra steps have to count for something. 2) I always pack protein bars in my luggage, as so many times when food hasn’t been readily available these have been a life saver not just for me, but also for my colleagues. 3) When you travel a lot you will be surprised just how many people you know around the world! So if I know I have a night off or am traveling over the weekend, I always check in on social media. It has often resulted in the most wonderful impromptu dinners with friends I didn’t realize just happened to be there as well. I think these kind of things are important as they add to the adventure and remind you you’re not alone!
For all the women out there reading this who are interested in a career as a publicist, what advice do you have?
Think about why you want to do this and if this role will suit your unique strengths and characteristics. Are you naturally a people person, and will you do what you can to get the results needed? If your role involves a lot of overseas travel, are you okay with jet lag? Are you willing to spend a lot of late nights working or networking at events? If so, and if you love working in an ever-changing environment, then I would start by putting your hand up to get as much work experience or internships under your belt as possible, so you become really clear about what industry or field of publicity you want to go into, be it product, talent, corporate, government, etc. Secondly I would speak to as many people in the industry as possible to gauge their thoughts on what industries are going to need publicists or PR practitioners in 5, 10, or 20+ years, so that you ensure your experience is going to be a sought-after niche in the future.
What’s one thing you wish women entrepreneurs just starting out knew about PR?
Being nimble is key. Over these last 15-20 years the media-landscape has changed a lot, and there is an ever-increasing reliance on social media for ROI and consumer engagement. The way today’s consumer shops and wants to receive his or her information is so different from previous generations, and is only going to continue evolving rapidly. You need to be able to change with her or you will be left behind quickly.
In saying that, I think the biggest thing every entrepreneur starting a new business can benefit from is the right mentorship and coaching.
Starting and growing a business requires the right staff, management and leadership to make it successful. I am a big believer that everyone can benefit from mentorship no matter how high up in the company you are, just as I am a big believer that every leader owes it to their team to be the best boss and leader they can possibly be.
We love that! Now let’s shift gears a little—you’re known to have great style. Where do you shop?
That is very kind! Although since moving to California my wardrobe has become a lot more relaxed, I usually shop at Bergdorf’s in New York as it is right next to my NY office and they have all of my favorite designers under one roof. Closer to home, I am obsessed with Maxfield’s in LA as their edit is so fabulous there is absolutely no chance of walking out empty handed. Apart from that I always find great knits and blazers at Intermix which are perfect for the weekend, or can be mixed and matched with work attire.
We hear you went shopping with Kendall and Kylie and we have to ask—what was that like?
Ha – yes. Both girls are huge fans of the UGG brand as is their whole family it is actually a very sweet story; I am not sure who started it but they have a really lovely family tradition where every Christmas the entire family receives a new pair of UGG boots or slippers. So leading up to the holidays I took them on a quick shopping trip at our Madison Avenue flagship store in NYC!
We’d also love to hear more about the time you flew out for a 48-hour trip to have dinner with Tom Ford…
Ahh yes – the incredible Mr Ford. This was back when I was the Communications Manager for Tom Ford in Australia and was invited to bring an editor to a dinner with me in London when we were just about to launch his make-up line. We literally flew over, had the dinner, went to the event, and then I think flew back 24 hours later. It was quite the trip, but one of my favorites! Tom Ford as a designer, a businessman and a visionary is truly extraordinary.
Finally we have to ask, we see you in a lot of glamorous settings—photo shoots with Rachel Zoe, press junkets with Tom Brady—but is it all glamorous? Tell us about some of the parts of your job not everyone knows about.
This is something I often laugh about when it’s 1 am and I’m preparing media kits on the floor of a hotel conference room in Korea, about to host a global press event the next morning. Or when one night I am at a lovely hotel in Paris, and the next I am sleeping in the airport lounge of Charles de Gaulle having been snowed in and delayed for three days. It can certainly be anything but glamorous, however in saying that I think you have to take the good with the bad. I have probably had every horrendous travel experience happen to me, and yet as with anything in life it is how you handle it that counts, not what actually happens. All in all I am extremely grateful I have been allowed to do a role I love so much! As the saying goes, if you love what you do then you never work a day in your life.