Get to Know: Ashley McKenna, Senior Public Relations Associate, Birchbox

September 7, 2017 Danielle Marchell

Birchbox, the leading e-commerce subscription provider for all things beauty, has been leading the charge for both men and women since the first Birchboxes were shipped in 2010. 

Through Birchbox, customers receive 4-5 beauty samples for $10 per month customized according to user profile. Birchbox features over 800 prestige brands, including mainstream favorites (like MAC Cosmetics, Kiehl’s and Benefit Cosmetics) to niche up-and-comers (like Sunday Riley and OUAI). Overall, Birchbox has over one million subscribers and four million total customers.

For the second installment of our PR professionals series, we sat down with Ashley McKenna, the Senior PR Associate for Birchbox, to get her opinion on emerging trends, her diverse career and advice for new public relations professionals.


How did you get your start in the industry?

Ashley McKenna: I made it a point starting in high school to build my network and speak with as many PR/communication professionals as I could to gain an understanding of what they do for a living. Developing those connections early on eventually led to many great internships, which then led to my first PR role in New York. That saying, “Your network is your net worth”... so much truth to that.


Advice for new PR pros?

AM: Read, read, read! Familiarize yourself with what is going on in the media landscape and try to take one new thing away, how it could potentially influence what you are working on and better advise on the strategy related to your own PR plans. I spend my morning commute reading as many articles I can fit in during that time so I have a good grasp of what is going on before I walk through the office door. I also find sharing relevant news with my coworkers helps me better understand and retain that information.


What are some challenges you face as a PR person in the beauty industry?

AM: We live in a subscription service world now, so that alone is already a big challenge to stand out in a saturated market. In regards to our customer, she’s a bit unexpected -- we don't target beauty junkies, but rather women who are NOT passionate about beauty. They want to look their best, of course, but they find shopping for beauty to be a chore and don't have the time nor the interest to research all the options out there. Our goal is to make it easy and efficient to find new products they love. However, the challenge with that is focusing on relevance with the consumer and thinking about the evolution of the product without taking away what people love about Birchbox.


What’s the best lesson you’ve learned so far?

AM: Having a positive attitude is key! It’s the foundation to your success. When things don’t go as planned, take those moments to work through the challenges, and turn disappointment into opportunities for growth.  


You’ve had a diverse career in PR - sports, agency, beauty - how was the jump from industry to industry?

AM: I have a lot of interests and I don’t want to leave any stone unturned! I have found that having a diverse range in experiencing various subject areas has allowed me to bring a fresh perspective in different scenarios.


What emerging trends are you seeing within the communications space?

A big trend in the PR space is owning audiences. We’re flooded with content everyday and there is only so much time we have in the day to consume the news. It’s not feasible for PR professionals to reach every single audience. This is where quality matters more than quantity, and owning a specific audience who actually resonates with your message is more valuable in a saturated media market. In certain cases, depth is more important than breadth.

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