Becoming a social media maven was never Aliza Licht’s original goal. She was on a pre-med track while studying at the University of Maryland College Park, but quit this pursuit three years in, discovering that her initial path just didn’t sit right with her. Her decision proved beneficial: after starting her career in the fashion and media industries as an intern at Harper’s Bazaar, Licht eventually found herself as the senior vice president of global communications at Donna Karan International and the voice behind the @DKNYPRGIRL Twitter. Although Licht has since parted ways with the company she spent 17 years with, she is setting out on her own to share her secrets to success with those hungry for similar pursuits.
After starting her career at Harper’s Bazaar with an editorial internship, Licht moved on to Marie Claire where she spent two years as an accessories specialist, says The New York Times. In 1998, Licht opted for a public relations job at Donna Karan.
Eleven years into her time with the fashion chain, a new platform that would become essential to public relations surfaced: social media. According to Forbes, the onset of social media prompted the company to create a social media presence that was equally inspired by the TV show Gossip Girl as it was a need for authentic human conversation. The product formed a social media presence no one could predict, one that launched Licht’s career: @DKNYPRGIRL.
The account was run anonymously for two years, garnering well over 300,000 followers by 2011. In October of the same year, Licht revealed her identity as not only the voice behind the ever-popular account, but also as the brand’s senior vice president of global communications. The reveal attracted the attention of major news outlets, including The New York Times, pointing to the popularity of her online persona.
In reflecting on her former position, Licht attributed the account’s popularity to her conversational, noncommercial approach to creating an engaged yet authentic following.
“My goal was to be their best girlfriend while giving the community a unique and privileged behind-the-scenes view into the world of fashion through my role as SVP of Global Communications at Donna Karan,” she explained. “It was about public relations and not the newest handbag that shipped to store; at least not a majority of the time. People didn’t view the account as a brand as much as they did an entertaining friend who had this cool job they could get a fly on the wall view into.”
In May 2015, Licht offered a more in-depth view of her life with the release her first book, Leave Your Mark: Land your dream job. Kill it in your career. Rock social media., in which she shares her personal and professional experiences to help others succeed in their careers and build their own personal brands. “Personal branding is not about being famous or amassing millions of followers,” Licht said. “It’s about aligning how people view you with what how you intend them to view you.”
To create a personal brand, Licht explained that it is first important to know “what you stand for, how you present, what people take away from meeting you or working with you are.”
One way to create a personal brand that Licht seems to specialize in: social media. Allowing people to create their personal brands online, Licht said social media “allows the everyday person to create a curated, smart presence that can help leverage whatever that person wants to promote.”
There are several steps to building a personal brand, said Licht. “First decide what you stand for. What do you want to be known for? Then create your brand filter- 5 adjectives or statements that can help you create parameters for what you should or should not be speaking about.”
The remaining steps, she said, are found within the pages of Leave Your Mark, a work dubbed “a mentorship in 288 pages.”
In explaining the book’s aim to mentor its readers, Licht said, “It’s a mentorship [book] because it teaches through storytelling and tough love. It’s also a comprehensive experience, as if you and I had a very, very long coffee.”
Although Licht decided to leave Donna Karan International in 2015, she still has a lot more to offer — and a lot more to teach. On Jan. 11, 2016, Licht launched “Blackboard,” a newsletter designed to share inspirational and insightful content while she learns just how she will leave her mark yet again.
Licht has learned a thing or two throughout her illustrious career, which she details in Leave Your Mark and will most likely share in her forthcoming newsletters. But in reflecting on the best piece of advice she’s received in her life, Licht offered, “Say thank you, sincerely and often.”
Thank you, Aliza Licht, for sharing your wisdom with us.