How to be your own publicist? Meet Aliza Licht, the author of Leave Your Mark

Sometimes packing a punch into 140 characters is more difficult than writing a long essay. And if you’re willing to learn how to network on social media like a pro and get a job you dream of, we want to introduce you to someone who’ll teach you how to do it properly. Meet Aliza Licht, EVP Brand Marketing and Communications at Alice + Olivia and the author of Leave Your Mark.

aliza licht interview leave your mark

She was breaking new grounds on Twitter as DKNY PR Girl back in 2009 and gained a massive following thanks to her friendly and direct tone, insightful remarks and relatable, funny tweets. Later, she used the breadth of her expertise to write a frank book that gives you a chance to feel as if you were grabbing a coffee with a social media m1astermind.

Her book is a witty, conversational guide to a dream career, social media and personal branding. She is not only a mentor, but also a fantastic storyteller; she shares a handful of anecdotes that taught her something new. The personal touch she’s been known for makes this book one of the most approachable career guides out there. In the foreword, Donna Karan tells us, “I can’t think of a better mentor to help get you going at work and in life. (…) Read it, be inspired – then go out and own your passion.” You can actually finish it in one evening because it’s filled with chatty, friendly confessions – and it’s like a fun conversation with a career guru, fuelled by fascinating insider stories.

Aliza wrote Leave Your Mark in just three months. Writing the book was easy for her, because she was inspired; even if she only wrote at night, between 9.30pm and 1.30am, the words flew as soon as she put her fingers on the keyboard. However, she found it much more challenging to edit and give it a structure, which took a little longer.

“An editor from Grand Central Publishing, who was following DKNY PR GIRL’s Twitter and blog, called and said that she thought there was a book somewhere in there,” she explains. “My husband is really good at spreadsheets so I said asked him, ‘Okay 75,000 words in 6 months, what does that look like?’ I need a schedule to know if I’m doing a good job or not. I really like report cards,” she adds.

This is how she penned her guide and revealed many interesting stories to her readers. She started studying medicine, but soon realised that fashion had a magnetic appeal for her. Changing her career early, Aliza took up an internship at a fashion magazine, finding her real calling in PR afterward. Former DKNY PR Girl ran an account that gained her many online friends even if it initially had no public link to her real name. And it used a completely different strategy than the most of the brand accounts, which have their tweets planned out in advance. Was it difficult to keep the right balance between “personal” and “corporate”?

“It was a very clear balance between the brand and personal. I didn’t talk about work on my personal handle. I spoke about what happens after work and in my personal life as a working mom,” she says. “That became harder to maintain once my book came out. Ultimately, the dknyprgirl Twitter handle had to be retired when I left the company.”

Since nobody knew that Aliza was behind the popular Twitter handle, it was frightening to break the news to her fans after a while.

“I was scared that the public had their own vision of whom she should be and that I would be a disappointment,” she reveals. “Luckily, that was not the case.”

In Leave Your Mark, Aliza mentions that Twitter is a powerful networking tool. However, when you have a small following, you might be tempted to think that you’re easy to be ignored on social media. Our career guru negates this approach completely.

“No one should ever fear about being ignored publicly. First of all, no one is keeping score. Second of all, you can’t take it personally. Oftentimes, people just miss things. There’s too much content. It’s worth taking a risk to connect with someone who might be able to progress your career,” she reassures. “I always connect with people who have smart things to add to a conversation. The best way to engage people is to chime into what they are already talking about!”

Speaking of Twitter networking power – what was the biggest blunder she’s seen a 20-something commit on social media?

“They have no filter. You have to mind your reputation because you are representing whatever company you work for, especially if you include your title on your social accounts,” she explains. “Your posts affect your professional reputation and we have seen so many people get fired for their posts! If your accounts are public, there is no difference between your personal or professional persona,” she warns.

Aliza also advises against posting these happy-go-lucky tweets… especially about job interviews you’re going to.

“If you are interviewing at a company, don’t tweet about it or the process. They are checking! Don’t ruin your chances to get that job,” she says.

The social media landscape is evolving a lot, many things have changed – however, some rules stay the same. She says that you can’t build an audience as quickly today as she was able to when she started, but the content strategy still remains the same.

“The right content still resonates but the beast needs to be fed across many more platforms now, so a calendar is important,” she tells us. “For me though, Twitter must be in real-time. I wish content on Twitter wasn’t so fleeting, but that’s also the beauty of it.”

There are platforms that maintain similar brevity of interaction – for instance, pictures on Snapchat or Instagram Stories are short-lived and move down the feed as soon as fresher content from somebody else appears. Although Aliza doesn’t do Snapchat anymore, she loves Instagram Stories and considers it a natural progression for this social media site.

“There are a lot of moments people who love Instagram want to capture in a less permanent way. The tiles have become more precious now, but the stories feature allows people to play with content and share more glimpses into behind the scenes,” she explains. “Snapchat, on the other hand, began to feel like an obligation and for me, that’s the kiss of death.”

She still thinks that Snapchat is an essential channel for a brand, but notices that people don’t check discovery channels the first thing when they tap the app icon.

“I think that discovery channels are overrated. People like to check their friends’ snaps as a priority,” she notices. “Snapchat did just buy a VR company, so it will be interesting to see what that becomes.”

Aliza Licht’s book, “Leave Your Mark: Land Your Dream Job. Kill it in Your Career. Rock Social Media”, has been published in the UK by Little Brown Book Group.

Kasia

Editor in Chief

Passionate about far too many things. Loves reading, watching films, eyeing (and producing) good design, listening to music and stuffing her face with chocolate on a daily basis. Cooks from time to time, and drinks far too much coffee to be a normal human being .

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