10 minutes with Lexi Kentmann from Williams Sonoma
Alexandra (Lexi) Kentmann is an absolute delight; warm, witty and overall very passionate about her role in the PR industry. Recently, we sat down with Lexi at the beautiful West Elm store in Bondi Junction, to find out about her role and why she uses Flaunter at Williams Sonoma Australia.
CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND & EXPERIENCE IN PR?
I’ve found my feet at Williams-Sonoma Australia working on four of the most iconic brands in the globe – west elm, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids and Williams Sonoma. I love lifestyle and being part of Australian homes, as well as working for a business that is invested in social impact – fair trade, being part of the community, sustainability and creating healthy homes.
I started a university degree in Newcastle – and three months in decided it wasn’t for me – so I quite literally ran away. I had a strong yearning to study and work in the industry – and that just wasn’t available at that time.
I moved back home, did some work experience and was offered a job within a few weeks at fashion/lifestyle agency – Mark Patrick Agency. We had a mutual agreement that I’d return to university – so I studied full time at UTS and worked full time during the day. This is where I really cut my teeth in PR – focusing on a range of clients such as Marcs, Safilo, Sheridan, Charlie Brown, Elizabeth Arden to name a few.
Because I didn’t have enough on my plate (studying full time and working full time!) a year later I started moonlighting – working with some young designers in my own time – I did contra PR for clothes for the likes of tsubi and Marnie Skillings, purely to gain more experience and support young designers.
I then shifted into the arts, working as Marketing Coordinator at Bangarra Dance Theatre, then part time with Emma Collison PR, before shifting back into consumer/retail focused roles with David Jones, Hausmann Communications (working again on Elizabeth Arden, Schick, Kinder Bueno…), I then went on maternity leave and freelanced on some beauty clients which I really loved.
I then moved into the home category working with a competitor brand for almost five years before landing my dream job at Williams Sonoma Australia.
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE THREE MOST SIGNIFICANT CHANGES YOU’VE SEEN IN THE LAST 5 YEARS?
- Leaner editorial teams
- Diversification of PR – influencer relationships play such a big part in campaigns – and the monetisation evolution, the shift is immense!
- Content – with integration in social media – there’s a huge need to generate our own content as part of any project we touch
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE OF PR LOOK LIKE?
I’d love to know!
As teams get leaner, pressure for increased output continues – authentic relationships and understanding of media outlets are key to any PR – now and in the future. Plus I think there’s an increased need for tailoring to suit each media outlet/publication. Blanket emails just don’t cut it.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT?
The evolution! I love learning and adapting, it’s never dull! I think it’s a really exciting time to be in PR because no day is ever the same and there’s less restrictions around what PR is – I get to work and might be meeting with a journalist, working on an event, creating social media content, shooting in someone’s home or dreaming up blue-sky ideas. I love the diversity of my role – and I don’t see that dulling anytime soon.
CAN YOU SHARE WITH US A STORY ABOUT ONE OF YOUR BIGGEST PR WINS? WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT FROM THAT EXPERIENCE?
At the peril of sounding totally cheesy, my biggest PR wins are having close relationships with journalists, editors, stylists – because we work so closely together and need to lean on each other.
My friendships tend to be with those in the media, or the PR industry – there’s so much to learn, and opportunity to support one another – that really does bring me a huge sense of satisfaction and pride. But if I had to tell you one big PR win – it’s breathing life into a campaign, putting a unique spin on a story – and really knowing my target.
HOW DO YOU MEASURE SUCCESS IN YOUR CAMPAIGNS?
Reach. Engagement. Quality.
There’s no point reaching lots of people if the audience is not in line with your brand – or engaged.
WHAT TOOLS DID YOU USE BEFORE FLAUNTER?
A USB stick! I used to save all our images and press materials to USBs and send out to media – it was hugely time-consuming, plus they can be expensive – AND they tend to get lost easily! I wasn’t sad to make the switch to Flaunter!
WERE THERE ANY CHALLENGES YOU HAD TO OVERCOME TO IMPLEMENT FLAUNTER? WHAT WERE YOUR HESITATIONS?
Training media to utilise this new resource, rather than having a USB in hand. It’s more time efficient for me – and for my journalist friends – they can download anytime, and particularly when they’re meeting deadline – they can access that image even if I’m not in the office. It’s a godsend.
DO YOUR MEDIA CONTACTS ENJOY THE EASY OF FLAUNTER? OR DID THEY STRUGGLE WITH A CHANGE IN SYSTEMS?
Yes, we see a high-level engagement of media on Flaunter – from a range of media. My media contacts think it’s easy to use, and it was pretty simple to educate them on how to make the most of this tool. Even if you don’t have an account you can access our images – which makes life very easy.
HOW ARE TOOLS LIKE FLAUNTER HELPING TO SOLVE A PROBLEM FOR BRANDS?
It’s a no-brainer for us, it’s a great self-service platform, plus we can customise to suit specific pitches or media partners to create mood boards. And if we’re not in the office any of our contacts can easily and readily access the images and information – deadline, middle of the night, or if we’re travelling. I find that really attractive.
To view & download hi-res images from West Elm, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids & Williams Sonoma, click on the icons below.