Diane Bates of Blue Sky Communications
Meet Diane Bates, co-owner of Blue Sky Communications, a PR and digital agency in New York City that helps beauty, wellness, and lifestyle brands get attention using traditional, digital, and social media.
One of the things that Blue Sky Communications does best is producing product launch events in locations like New York, Los Angeles, or Toronto, which involves working with designers, DJs, celebrities, makeup artists and hairstylists, along with the best caterers and mixologists, to create experiences that present brands in the best light to media and consumers alike. They also sometimes escort press and influencers to events in exotic locations, like London for a Bulgari fragrance launch, or to Paris for the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.
Many of Blue Sky's clients often seek the team's opinion on product names, brand packaging, and performance. Blue Sky helps to identify expert and celebrity spokespeople and negotiate deals. They broker collaborations between fashion designers and digital influencers for things like New York Fashion Week, Instagram takeovers, and sponsored posts. Sometimes they have to troubleshoot for clients who have a PR crisis or help with their philanthropy, along with publicizing their products on TV, in print, and online. For the past 19 years, Diane has worked with some of the most notable beauty brands including Clé de Peau Beauté, Too Faced, Maybelline New York, Crème de la Mer, Essie, Garnier, and many, many more.
Diane got her start doing an unpaid internship at a beauty PR agency. It allowed her to make use of her verbal, writing, visual, and research skills on a daily basis. She became close friends with editors and her clients were starting to see amazing results thanks to her attention to detail.
Diane co-founded Blue Sky Communications along with Susan Hagaman, and wanted to make changes to the current boutique PR agency business model and modernize it. Diane and Susan felt that getting and keeping great talent meant being flexible, and rather than "babysitting" them, they wanted to empower them to be powerful, confident, and persuasive.
Diane likes to consume as much media as possible in her day to day. "Publicists are always looking for trends or shifts in the zeitgeist that they can 'newsjack', [which is] when publicists attach a brand story to a trending topic or news angle receiving widespread attention in our culture," says Diane. She reads the Wall Street Journal and the NY Post daily, and the NY Times and fashion magazines on weekends. Her favorite publication is Psychology Today. She scans her preferred blogs and online news outlets, checks social media, looks at the stock market gains/losses, peruses baseball standings, and then, finally, reads her email. She will delete anything not actionable, reply to easy or urgent emails, and print top-level emails that will then get noted on her to-do lists and calendar.
Once at the office, Diane will walk around and talk to her team about their respective accounts and updates. She prefers to chat and connect with her employees on a personal level, rather than wasting time in meetings and having unnecessary email conversations. "Standing outside someone's office and talking to them is faster and helps empty my brain," says Diane, "prepping it for the real work I have to do, which requires clarity, creativity, and strategy."
When working with a new client, the Blue Sky team does what Diane calls "onboarding", which involves learning everything about a brand. The team will immerse themselves fully in the brand, testing products, finding angles, and meeting the players. Other days, Diane might have lunch with an editor or blogger and share an overview of her client roster, or host an influencer at the office.
Looking forward, Blue Sky Communications is helping Bulgari to launch a new Fragrance - The Roman Night, with Bella Hadid as the face. They are also hosting a 14-brand agency event at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills with almost 100 reporters, editors and influencers in attendance, and coordinating the entire thing from New York City. Later this year, Victoria Secret, one of Blue Sky's clients, will be having their annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, which Diane and the Blue Sky team will help coordinate.
When asked to share advice with aspiring PR moguls and professionals alike, Diane was more than happy to impart some of her knowledge on the Pur Opulence audience. "Pursue internships in your related field of desire beginning sophomore year of college," says Diane, "Network like crazy, seek mentors at the highest level possible, and don't think any task is beneath you." One of Diane's duties as an intern was top open mail and it was her willingness to work her way up the ladder that got her to where she is today. "It is not for the faint of heart, but if it feels good and right, charge into it and never look back. There is no better job. It rarely, if ever, feels like work in the traditional sense."