@DKNY Gives Tips & Tricks on Twitter for Major Luxury Brands: Part I

Aliza Licht

Aliza Licht, SVP, Global Communications at Donna Karan International, is the voice leading the brand’s Twitter success. For some who presume social media is handled by interns, this was a surprise.

But when Licht and the company started to take flight with the @dkny Twitter account, they were tapping into a channel that most luxury brands were still unsure about and proving how important it is as a focus across all levels at the brand.

Today, with more than 400,000 followers and 40,000 Tweets on the @dkny account, Aliza has helped prove to her luxury brand peers that social media is not just a fleeting trend. It can generate welcome attention and brand esteem that might take years and much more effort to attract through other channels.

In Part I of this two-part Q&A, Aliza discusses how the company built the social media status it has today and why she thinks social media and Twitter in particular are so important. You can stay tuned for the full interview in a few days, or if you just can’t wait to hear how she gets the same brand message across all social channels or how they account for social ROI, download the full interview here.

Q. Not too long ago, you “came out” online as the woman behind DKNY’s madly successful Twitter account. How did this whole Twitter persona start?
A. In 2009, we knew that embarking on social was the next big thing and even though very few fashion luxury brands were in the space we felt our brand DNA was strong enough to tell a unique, NY-centric story. Which story though, was the question. As a PR person, credibility is always paramount and I knew we didn’t want people to think this was actually Donna Karan Tweeting. So I came up with the character “DKNY PR GIRL,” but for convenience purposes, the handle would simply be @dkny.

PR, as a department, is a touch-point for so many different areas of the company. From events and runway shows to celebrity dressing and editorial, we have a ton of content to draw from. Being a fly on our wall allows someone to witness not only success, but failure and frustration. Did I mention stress?

As far as the voice, it was decided that I would be the only one Tweeting so the voice would be consistent, but that we would all contribute content for this “PR GIRL” character to live vicariously through. But the best-laid plans never happen, and it very quickly became obvious that it was one person and that person was real. So we scrapped the made-up character idea and traded it for anonymity of the person behind the sketch. That lasted about two years until we decided enough was enough, and the veil was pulled back.

Q. How does Twitter compare to other social networks; for you personally, and for the company?
A. Twitter is a passion of mine. It’s the platform I give the most attention to. It is also the platform that is the most personal. Through the DKNY PR GIRL persona, I infuse myself into Twitter, dknyprgirl.com and Pinterest. Our other platforms like Facebook (Donna Karan & DKNY pages), Tumblr (Notes On A City & Donna’s Journal) and Instagram (donnakarandkny) are amazing, but maintain the respective brand voice.

Q. What did it take for the company to “trust you” in having free editorial reign over the Twitter account?
A. From day one, our management was excited about it, as they recognized that Twitter was another way that we could engage with our customers. They also showed a lot of foresight, because they knew it would only work if I could be real, unedited and write whatI know… And a lot of what I know is the world of Donna Karan.

Q. How much time a day do you spend on Twitter?

A. I Tweet while doing my “real” job. Pretty much on and off all day. I never schedule Tweets though, so there can be periods of silence at which point some of my Twitter friends come hunting me down.

Q. From a managerial perspective, how do you do your job and keep up with the incoming Tweets and all the press that comes in?
A. I think when you love doing something, you figure it out. Social Media does not feel like an obligation to me. It’s a privilege.

Stay tuned for Part II! (Or if you just can’t wait, get the full interview here.)