Di Petroff is an accomplished communications and public relations expert with over a decade of experience across the beauty, fashion, hospitality, design and philanthropy categories. An entrepreneur at heart, Di Petroff PR is her second successful business to date. In just two years, the company has garnered a diverse roster of clients in the fashion, consumer goods and lifestyle markets, including names like SeaVees, johnnie-O, BluePrint and Oars + Alps. It’s no surprise, then, that Petroff is passionate about the challenge of keeping brands relevant in today’s ever changing media landscape.
Tell us about your background. How did you get your start in the industry?
I’ve always been fascinated by the backstory of a brand, personality, lifestyle or technology and how they got to where they are. One of my favorite shows was Biography on A&E, so I guess telling the story behind a business or personality is something I’ve always had an organic passion for, but I never thought I’d be doing it for a living! I don’t have formal PR agency experience, but I did volunteer to help the GQ PR department whenever possible, for events or anything they needed extra hands for (I was working first in the fashion department, and then for the Editor-In-Chief). PR is as much strategy as it is instinct and personality. You have to be able to read people, not just spreadsheets.
What does your company do?
Di Petroff PR is an extension of a brand’s external communications platform. We oversee the development and delivery of high quality PR strategies and lead digital influencer programs. We’re a valued partner for clients who want to reach their external communication goals with a very hands-on approach.
This is your second success at building a creative business. What have been the biggest challenges and rewards of launching your own venture?
The challenge and the reward of being an entrepreneur is just that - you’re an entrepreneur and on your own. There isn’t a big brand name behind you to fall back on, like a Conde Nast or Calvin Klein. You are the brand and the name. You are the one responsible for every decision made from hiring and logo design to client relations, strategy and everything in between. When it works, the rewards trump the challenges.
What is your advice for those in the industry striving to be entrepreneurs?
Get industry experience before launching into being your own boss and be sure to have an operating agreement outlining responsibilities if you’re considering taking on a partner. Experience allows you to navigate through any challenge that might present itself. Be ready to hustle for big picture results and rewards while staying true to your standards. Success is measured by the legacy of your reputation, so have fun with whatever you do and exercise to keep your brain in check!
What are a few current projects you’re excited about?
We’re only two years old and have a lot of fun projects in the pipeline. We’re heading into a very busy fall and I’m excited for the collaboration between Santa Barbara-based SeaVees sneakers and 10 Crosby Derek Lam, as well as BluePrint’s new juices, kombuchas and vinegar drinks.
We’re working with the top Palm Beach-based lifestyle blogger @foggoffashion who is poised to grow in numbers like @somethingnavy, which is an exciting trajectory. Of course, one of my favorite events of the summer is Hamptons Cup this August; this year it’s being presented by Cartier and benefitting Robin Hood. I’m excited to watch my team grow and succeed in their own careers. Nothing makes me more excited than nurturing talent and unleashing it on clients.
In an increasingly digital media landscape, how do you predict the industry will change over the next 5-10 years?
I launched my first PR firm a decade ago when the idea of digital anything was a foreign concept just getting its footing within fashion, lifestyle and retail. We were at the beginning of digital PR strategy implementation, and it’s taken the last few years for brands to embrace it or be left behind. I still love flipping through magazines and touching each page, so I don’t think they’ll go away (I’m only 42!), but I also read most of my headlines and news via digital and social media sites. The PR industry will continue to evolve just as the way we consume information and media will; however, the function of PR is to tell the story, and publicists will continue to be critical gatekeepers for brands who want to communicate with their consumers.
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