We’re Not Just Pretty: Elaine Quan

Elaine Quan has worked in public relations for more than 15 years. After graduating from the University of Toronto, her career started in professional sports with the Toronto Raptors Basketball Club in 1994, which led her to position at a boutique PR agency, The Publicity Group, specializing in entertainment.  Later, in 2000, Elaine’s fashion PR path began with Hugo Boss Canada, before she moved on to Winners/Homesense. She happily landed with Joe Fresh Style and PC Home in 2007. She’s also had the great opportunity to work at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta.  

Outside of work, she enjoys trying new restaurants and cooking in her own kitchen, good music, cute boys and driving fast.
Joe Fresh Style
Twitter: @JoeFreshStyle

How long have you been in your current position?
I have been with Joe Fresh Style and PC Home for almost four years.

How does your company leverage PR?
Joe Fresh Style is a new and unique brand with a dynamic leader in Joe Mimran. As a brand, we are passionate about bringing amazing, stylish apparel to the masses with great value. We use all of the traditional PR tools (i.e.: press releases, fashion shows, media previews) to bring awareness to our brand and products.  

We strive to think outside the box and create chic events that continue to wow our supporters, while staying true to our brand identity. Social media is becoming an increasingly important tool for us, and we are looking at innovative ways to engage media and consumers through this medium.

What qualities are most important to you when hiring a PR team member?
Passion, hustle and adaptability. Passion and hustle go hand-in-hand. If you have a passion for something, most people will do anything they can to stay in that field and work hard in it, because they live and breathe it. I think many day-to-day job skills can be taught, but you can’t teach someone to be passionate about something. 

Adaptability is also very important. As most PR professionals know, our jobs can be quite unpredictable, and we need to know how to handle last minute changes and/or a crisis calmly and professionally. Thinking on your feet is an invaluable trait to have in this business.

Who is your mentor or professional in the industry you admire?
I’ve had many mentors over the years, and the skill that they all possess, that I admire most, is their management style. They have been excellent people managers who trust their team, let them showcase their skills and provide guidance as needed, without being condescending or mean. 

Their ability to believe in what I can do over the years has definitely influenced how I manage my team. All of my mentors have been extremely generous in sharing their knowledge with me and providing unconditional support throughout my career.

What are your feelings about how PR has been positioned in the media in more recent years, on popular TV shows?
PR has been glamourized in the media. Most people think that all PR professionals do is throw and attend parties and hang out with celebrities. What those shows don’t portray are the long hours and the tedious and sometimes messy tasks we have to manage. PR people are often the first ones there and the last to leave.  

That being said, it is still a fabulous job and I’m happy this profession is getting more exposure, so that people have a sense of what we do every day.

What’s your biggest piece of advice for PR pros, both junior and senior?
Be kind, professional and prepared for anything. It’s our job to make things happen and make it look effortless. Also, stay behind the scenes. It’s about the product, brand or client, not about you!

What do you love most about your job?
I love the challenge of working on something different everyday in a fast-paced environment with an amazing team of colleagues that make it fun. And who doesn’t love fashion?!

A little more from the fourth floor:
: YouTube.com, Funny or Die, Food Network and of course, Joe.ca.
Designer: Christian Louboutin, Brian Atwood, Michael Kors, Chanel.
Store: Neiman Marcus Last Call.
BookThe Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy.
Snack: Anything salty.
Season: Summer.
Sexy: Stiletto shoes.
Inspiration: My nieces and friends.
Drink: Iced tea on a sunny patio.
Motto in two words: Drive and determination.
Idea of perfect happiness: Great friends, great food and lots of laughs.
Indulgence: Expensive shoes and handbags.
Celebrity crush: George Clooney.
Favourite tweeter to follow: @shinangovani and @debgee – they keep me up-to-date on all the happenings in T.O. and elsewhere.