Ali Martillotta is an account executive at BRANDSTYLE Communications, a luxury lifestyle public relations company. Ali Martillotta and I originally met at The Campbell Apartment to talk about featuring her clients in Career Profiles on Elana Lyn. But a few hours later we were talking about fitness, wellness, and being a twentysomething in NYC. She’s since become one of my favorite workout buddies. When you talk to Ali it’s clear that she is passionate about her career and that she always gives 110%. I know you’ll be just as inspired by Ali as I am!
How did you end up at BRANDSTYLE Communications? What was your career path?
It’s actually a bit ironic how I ended up here. Why, you ask? Well, I went to school for architecture and graduated with a degree in interior design. After graduating and high-tailing it to the city, New York City, I started working for a design company in Soho called Studio Anise where we designed, not to be cliche but I have to be, super chic spaces. Think: High Italian design meets minimalism. I loved it.
While there, I was scouted out by an extremely talented interior stylist, Lili Diallo, through a very good friend of mine. My friend had said, “You two are one in the same — you’re bound to love each other!” And sure enough, she was right. I interviewed that afternoon and was offered a freelance stylist assistant position with her on the spot. I spent months working with her and having, honestly, the most fun. We worked hard (really hard) on the re-design of Cole Haan’s lifestyle rebrand together. And at the end of the day, I could not have been more fortunate to work with such a talented woman. I learned so from her, and still to this day, have a fantastic relationship with her. Holding on to hope that we will do a few projects together in the future. Right, Lili?
But as I mentioned, it was a freelancing position, and hello I was in my early twenties. Translation: Not in the position to not have full-time stability. That said, someone I was babysitting for suggested I get in touch with her best friend who ran a lifestyle public relations agency in the city.
And really…that’s how it all began!
So technically, I have no background in the public relations industry — aside from the fact that— well — apparently I can (usually) communicate with people.
What are your responsibilities as account executive?
Working at a boutique agency has been great in the sense that I get to be hands-on with my clients; interacting with them daily. Zoe, the CEO and founder of BRANDSTYLE, drives the strategy and comes up with ideas (sometimes, totally crazy) on ways to position our clients. She’s brilliant in that sense. My responsibility stripped down to the root? Get my clients press. And get them press in top-tiered outlets. At the end of the day, that’s why they party with us.
What is a day as Ali like? Please walk me through a workday!
I arrive at the office early (probably too early!) because I like to have a few moments of silence to just knock stuff off of my to-do list before the rest of the crew arrives. Some days I spend out of office meeting with editors, taking clients to Conde Nast or Hearst for example for desk side meetings, which happen to be a very productive use of time. But really, it just depends. My days are usually pretty varied. I often spend the majority of my day reading websites— seeing what’s being talked about by media, reaching out to editors based on the topics they’re covering— and reading and researching some more. There’s always a new trend (usually created by a publicist!) to try and leverage your client to be associated with, so that’s a challenge daily.
What is your favorite thing about working at Brandstyle Communications?
I have been very lucky to work with a boss I really respect — both on a professional and personal level. I think it’s absolutely critical to have someone you fear, just a little bit. Fear, not because he or she is a scary person, but fear of disappointing. It keeps you on your toes. It pushes you to do more. So there’s that.
And then there is the fact that I work with a very unique group of individuals — both in the office — and outside of the office. Outside of the office meaning my clients and a certain group of editors. I’ve come across so many talented people who have truly inspired me in ways that they’ll never understand.
What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
That’s a tough one as I continue to raise the bar for myself and the successes I want to accomplish. But one thing is for sure; I will never forget the rush I felt after securing my first feature for a past client, Oscar Blandi, in The Wall Street Journal. From the initial pitch, to the photo shoot, to eventually seeing the piece in print — it was the kind of feeling that really inspired me to continue to be targeted in my outreach. Of course, there have been successes since then (or else, let’s just say, I would be totally failing at my job!) but you never forget the feeling from the first major hit.
Did you always know you wanted to work in PR?
I definitely did not know that I would end up in PR. Embarrassing secret? The morning before interviewing with my company, I actually googled the following:
What is PR?
It’s true and I am far from ashamed to admit it. I think you could say I have come a long way since then?
What is your favorite thing about working in PR?
Working with editors. Ironically, when applying for schools, I was really torn between majoring in journalism or in the arts; both of which I am passionate about. That said, it’s really fun to be able to write and craft pitches (although who knows how often they’re even read!) when corresponding with media. Every day is unpredictable (and sometimes not in a good way) but for me, that’s what I enjoy most.
What advice do you have for other people who want to work in PR?
My advice would be to start meeting editors (in real life, yes that means out of the office) — and don’t waste time building your network! At the end of the day, it’s a very small industry. I can tell you this: A few of my closest friends in New York have come through connections I have made through my time at BRANDSTYLE, but it wouldn’t have happened if I were just sitting behind my computer screen.
How would you describe your professional style? What are a few staples?
Does athleisure count as professional? If only…right, guys? But seriously, my work style is very low key. I sit in an office with all girls, which doesn’t leave much room to feel the need to dress in any way to impress (sorry ladies…) but I’m a major fan of the following: slightly ripped jeans, a pair of Nikes (I am self-admittedly obsessed) and usually some sort of black or white T. I’m not one for color. If I am meeting with editors, I have a few staples from Public School that I rely on to pull my look together.
If someone were in NYC for one day and went out for breakfast, coffee, lunch, dinner, drinks, and dessert where would you tell them to go?
Oh wow! This is the hardest for me. I troll food websites looking for new restaurant openings, chefs that I love, and swoon-worthy spaces…so somewhere in between the madness, I find myself out trying new places (far too) often.
Breakfast is one of my favorite meals of the day and I have to say, one of my favorite spots for a healthy, but seriously delicious start, happens to be The Butcher’s Daughter. I’m obsessed…and totally love going alone!
Coffee? Some might call me an addict, but honestly, La Colombe’s iced red eye with a little bit of cream (yikes — know) trumps it all. I also really love Chalait in the West Village; their matcha latte is second to none.
Lunch? Frank: Just steps outside of my apartment but I dare you to find a better burrata in this city. Their gnocchi and homemade tomato sauce is pretty enviable as well.
Drinks: How is it possible to pick just one place? During the summer, one of my favorite spots to catch a beautiful sunset and have a classy cocktail is on the roof of The Dream downtown. The views get me, always. Acme in Noho makes a great dirty martini (my absolute fave) and a perfect winter happy hour destination.
And dinner? OH GOSH. How does someone pick just one place? I really heart Morandi in the West Village; it is very reminiscent of places I experienced while living in Italy.
And dessert? Chickalicious in the East Village takes the cake — the smells alone will lure you in, as well as their Mille Crepe Cake. Try it!
What is on your desk right now?
Not much, honestly! I’m addicted to my planner. Yes, I actually write things down versus use my iPhone calendar. Other than that, not a whole lot other than my Club W wine bottles that I haven’t taken home with me…yet. And my BKR bottle — something I cannot live without.
What is your morning routine?
I am very much an early-bird. And by that, I mean I am up at 5:04 am (weird I know) four mornings each week. I head down to Soul Cycle Soho for a morning sweat session with Akin Akman. If you’ don’t know him, I dare you to try a class…but seriously, anyone who has you at 6 am classes is doing something right. I then head home, get ready for the day and stop at Fresco Gelateria — my favorite coffee shop in all of New York that’s run by three siblings — for a large cup of coffee. If I am treating myself a bowl of their coconut banana oatmeal really is just the best). I often stop at Juice Press for a green smoothie as well; currently coveting the Green Light with almond butter. Shortly after, take the subway and arrive at my office in 20 minutes.
What are you reading now?
The New York Times, Well + Good, Refinery29, The New Potato and SELF on repeat. And since we’re being honest, no books at the moment. Oops.
What is your best advice for other young professional women?
Push past your comfort zone in all facets of life: emotionally, physically and mentally. You’re usually capable of more than meets the eye if you really believe in what you set your mind to.
And for the twenty-somethings: Don’t stress so much (I tell this to myself daily) as it comes together and makes more sense as each year passes. It really does and the mayhem will begin to make more sense. Or you just get better at dealing with it. One of the two.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Good things will come to you if you persevere. And that is something I can attest to be true.
Image via Ali Martillotta.