Part of the founding team at D2C vitamin company Ritual (which you've probably seen grace your Instagram feed), Lauren Kleinman runs not one, but two companies in the commerce, PR, and editorial space: The Quality Edit, where she and her team curate the best of the best brands and products on the internet, and Dreamday, a performance PR agency that works with "editorial darling D2C brands that are highly giftable, Instagrammable, have [a] really great aesthetic, as well as a strong founder story" (primarily focusing on those that are BIPOC and/or female-founded). So basically, she's an expert on all things "commerce, content, and conversion," as she phrased the links between the two companies.
Here, Lauren breaks down her daily routine, how she builds relationships in the industry, the advice she has for newcomers, and more.
This interview has been lightly edited.
Walk us through your daily routine.
Every day is really different, but shares a lot of the same themes. I’m actually a mom of two: a 2-year-old and a 4-and-a-half-year-old, so I think the themes are family, personal care, and work, and I’m always trying to toggle between those three and really like balance how I’m spending my time. I tend to be a workaholic, so I’m very cognizant of how I spend my time—I think more so now than maybe before, which is something I’m really proud of.
When I wake up, nothing too exciting, but I do have breakfast with my family every morning together. Typically after that I will either do a workout or take calls walking or work in my office at home, and basically throughout the day I’m kind of just juggling really work and personal care. So I try to take as many calls [while] walking, I try to do as many classes as possible. I’ll try to do yoga or pilates a few times a week and then mental health is really important to me. I recently learned TM meditation, but I’m also practicing different forms. I love Sri Sri Shankar, who is an amazing healer, meditation thought leader, peace activist, and will follow along on his YouTube meditations. [I] also use an app called Waking Up, which is really great, but basically try to meditate anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour every day. If I can get an hour in on a day, that’s like a huge achievement for me.
And that takes me through to 5. I really try to not work after 5 and I try to be present with my family. 5 is usually when we’ll start dinner and then after dinner we’ll start our wind-down routines for the kids. And, actually, [a] night routine has become more important for me as well because I realized that I was harboring a lot of stress throughout the day and taking too much on and then it would kind of manifest into insomnia and not really being able to shut my brain off.
So every night I drink a magnesium drink and I’ll take a magnesium supplement. I also try to read if my son is going to watch 20 minutes of a movie before sleep. I read him three or four books every night, which also gets me into a sleepy mood. I try not to have any screens after that point. I have the Oura ring and I’ve really found that to be useful [for] finding what my best sleep time is and almost gamifying getting a good night sleep, so it’s very normal for me now to have an eight or nine hour sleep, and to achieve that I’ll go to sleep around 9:30 or 10 at the very latest. Sadly, [I] cut out shows because I found that that was kind of elevating my blood pressure and also the screen time was not helpful, so, cost/benefit, but happy to be getting better sleep.
Can you tell us a little bit more about how you invest in your relationships with clients?
We always do a traditional discovery call to share what we’re doing and our approach, but also to understand the client’s needs. I feel like from that one call we can pretty much determine if it’s going to be a mutual fit. Sometimes there’ll be follow-up email questions, but traditionally it’s pretty straightforward. We’re very surgical with the clients that we work with, so if we can’t take them on, I try to still be helpful and try to refer them to another agency that we trust.
And in terms of the clients we do take on, we have an onboarding questionnaire that all of our clients go through that is pretty comprehensive and asks all of the questions that we’re going to need to be successful, to be in a place where we have enough content from the brand and are going to be prepared to be drafting our first pitches with that information. And then obviously we have a kickoff call, which is even more comprehensive, and then usually it’s around two weeks or so that we’re starting to compile media lists and draft those pitches and then going out to media with our initial “now representing” pitch.
And what about your relationships with journalists, because obviously they’re an important part as well?
Honestly, I would love to be doing more desk sides. I think with COVID, you know, having young children, we’re kind of holding off on desk sides, but I think that is all very much coming back now, so a lot of our publicists at our agency are conducting desk sides and having casual lunches to get to know journalists and editors better. I would say that our goal is to be really human at our core at the agency, just in our culture, the way we treat our own employees, but also the way that we interact with journalists. We try to make their job as easy as possible—serving stories up for them on a silver platter as much as we can—but also just want to get to know who they are as individuals, even outside of the profession, and really understand what they’re motivated by, what they’re looking for, and how we can be the best partner to them.
Our VP, Jamie has a really great philosophy on this and she has said that clients can always come and go through the lifetime of the business, but journalists largely remain journalists for a long time. Even if they switch publications, those are relationships that you’re going to have for potentially your entire career. So I’ve found that to be a really helpful perspective and in every touchpoint with them, we try to be human and try to understand where they’re at on that day, but also who they are as people.
We just started our Instagram [and] we’re trying to highlight them more on our Instagram [as well] and just share our gratitude for the work and partnership that they do every day.
What advice you would give to a publicist who’s just starting out?
I would say to be curious and to almost be investigative yourself. Make as many relationships and friends in the industry as possible, whether that’s talking to other publicists [about] what’s working for them, or networking with brands that may potentially want to hire you or work with your agency in the future, as well as just making relationships with as many editors as you can, caring deeply about what they care about as well. Really doing your homework on them before reaching out.
I think that “do your homework” piece is really important. Not just in researching the editor, what their beat is, what their passions are, what their interested in, all of that, but also just doing your homework of the space at large, as in, reading stories in different categories that you’re interested in, looking and seeing, who is the editor writing that story? What does their background look like? What are themes that you see coming up in press? What are trends that you’re noticing? I think a lot of that comes back to doing your homework and being really curious, almost being an investigator yourself and approaching everything as like a learning opportunity because it very likely is.
I would say another thing is just treat everyone with respect and very nicely because I think it’s very harmful to burn bridges in this industry, or any industry really, but just making sure that that is at the forefront. That’s something that definitely guides our agency internally and something that we try to exemplify with all of our relationships externally as well.
I think that also comes back to reputation. Your reputation is everything and being nice and respectful of people, but also of their time [is important.] There [are] so many ways to show respect, right? I think even doing your homework is a way of showing respect for their time. Relationships are everything in this industry—and definitely don’t burn any bridges.
What are a couple of things that brands should keep in mind if they’re pitching media directly?
All of those same kind of principles apply: do your homework on the editor, make sure that you understand their beat, and make sure that you’re not just mass pitching—make sure that it’s tailored specifically to that editor, what they’re interested in. Also, keep it short and concise, but keep it interesting as well, which is a difficult line to balance. Why should this specific editor be interested in this specific brand or product or story? How does it align with their beat? And what is interesting about this specific product launch or collaboration or the brand at large?
I think it also helps to size up if there are any hype data you can share, like how many times you’ve been sold out or how many 5-star reviews you have, also if any celebrities have liked the product or tried it. [Include], as concisely as possible, all of the main key points around why this is an interesting brand or product and what makes it stand out from the competition. We obviously are a performance PR agency and take a different approach, but I would also, if you have it, definitely include an affiliate link as well because that is obviously how publishers are monetizing.
What would you say is an earned media no-no that people should avoid?
I would say one is just mass spamming emails, not doing your research. I think if you’ve followed up more than three times, let it go, it’s not going to happen. Editors have a lot of inbounds in their inbox and, again, [it comes back to being] respectful of people’s time and interests. But I would say the biggest no-no is just not doing your research on the editor. If you’re pitching a parenting product, don’t pitch that to a food editor.
What do you like most about your job, and what would you say is the hardest part?
I feel like it is the combination of all these areas that I’m passionate about around growth and also content and commerce, but, I think maybe more importantly than that, [I] feel very privileged to be around such an amazing team. I feel like we have a really great culture at Dreamday. We all work remotely and it’s such a blessing to be building a career while also being able to be a mom and have a good lifestyle.
I think the culture and being able to surround myself with such an amazing team and being able to kind of dictate what that culture looks like and have that be a participatory thing that everyone gets to kind of decide how they work and where they work and what this company looks like is really amazing. I would say that’s probably my favorite part of the job. I think that my VP would say that she feels like press is like her drug of choice and that every time we get a hit, it’s a thrill, but yeah mine would probably be 1) the team we work with and 2) the founders that we work with and being able to amplify stories of small businesses and minority-owned and/or female-owned businesses as well.
[The hardest parts of my job are] managing client expectations and just running the agency on a day-to-day basis. There’s always something going on, whether it’s hiring someone you need to hire or a client you need to replace or a client that has an interesting question that you have to drop everything and address. So, a lot of balls always in the air that you’re juggling—it’s also a perk of the job, I would say—like always having to problem solve and address issues that you never have in the past, which for me is important because I’m someone who always likes to be learning something new. So kind of a challenge, but also an opportunity.