An Early Start
Netflix, Peloton, Instagram, presidential campaigns, makeup; you name it, Michael Braun probably had something to do with its success in the media. Braun, a 2005 COM alum, has known since the young age of sixteen that he wanted to work in public relations.
“I really like amplifying others’ voices,” Braun said. He started practicing public relations as an intern for a record label in high school. During his high school’s “May Midterm,” most kids were taking on various school-related projects or traveling with their families. Braun, however, had no hesitation to kickstart his career.
“I decided to intern because that’s my favorite thing to do: work for free!” Braun added humorously. Working with this record label in high school led him to the opportunity to work in publicity for Warner Brothers – all before he even set foot on BU’s campus.
Braun at BU
Braun looked into Ivy League universities and toured about 12 college campuses, but he only had eyes for BU. In fact, it was the only school he applied to. He loved the urban environment and the idea of being close to home. Most important to Braun, however, was how COM provided a significant focus on internships and “work experience that was essential to [his] development,” Braun noted.
While studying public relations at COM, Braun participated in the London Internship Program and interned every summer for record labels and advertising agencies, even becoming involved in politics by taking part in the Democratic National Convention.
Braun relished in COM’s flexibility, which allowed him to structure his classes so that he could complete three internships while being a full-time student at BU.
Braun was open about the challenges of finding work right after graduating from COM in 2005. He said it took several months and lots of hard work, but he stayed relentless and still believes that everything happens for a reason.
In 2005 he began working in digital marketing and PR, a time, he said, when “digital” had a very different meaning than it does today. Despite having a steady job, Braun experienced significant moments of questioning his career identity – unsure about whether to stay in the digital world, take a traditional route, or even go into politics.
After bouncing around in different fields, Braun found himself delving into the world of political campaigns – all thanks to a work opportunity he had during his time at BU. The university had allowed him to take time off from classes in 2004 to work with the Kerry Edwards campaign.
“BU realized the importance of this opportunity to my development and future,” Braun said.
Thanks to this experience, Braun later had the chance to work with Barack Obama’s campaign and, most recently, campaigns for both Kamala Harris and current President Joe Biden.
With all of these campaigns, Braun oversaw treatment of the media at each candidate’s events. He made sure they knew where to go and what to do, that they were treated well, and that there were no bumps in the road. Still, however, Braun wasn’t complacent in his run with politics alone; he knew he wanted something more, while still staying involved with politics on the side.
From Politics to Traditional PR
“I like touching the newspaper and seeing my work in a magazine, so I wanted to explore that side of me,” Braun commented when discussing his transition from politics to traditional public relations. He started with an agency called DKC, a sports lifestyle group who represented clients like the U.S. Open, New Balance, and the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, back in 2009.
“I covered clients that were all over the map, and I’m kind of all over the map,” Braun said. “I like so many different things, so working with an agency was so beneficial.”
After four and a half years, Braun moved onto another independent agency called ID, where he worked with major media companies like Instagram, Facebook, and Netflix. His team was responsible for educating the media on the concept of streaming and how this would be the new way of watching videos.
While working with ID, Braun’s most significant client was Peloton. In fact, it was Braun who executed the communication strategies that landed Peloton in stories within The New York Times’ business section. At the time, no one was handling in-house PR at Peloton, so the company’s reliance on Braun and his team at ID was crucial to its initial success.
After his time at ID, Braun was ready for in-house experience. Now he works not one, but two, full-time communication careers. He is the Head of Communications for IL MAKIAGE and the Vice President of Communications for Hydrow.
IL MAKIAGE is a 100% online makeup vendor and “the fastest growing direct-to-consumer beauty brand in the country,” he said.
IL MAKIAGE is known for its online quiz that matches your exact skin tone to a foundation shade out of 50 different colors. The company is still growing and just recently launched in the United Kingdom and Germany, with goals of expanding into four to five more markets in 2021.
After seeing Braun’s name on a Peloton press release, the company reached out to hire him for his expertise in strategic communication. Unlike his past experiences where Braun worked with dozens of other professionals on teams, he is now in charge of company communications all on his own.
Braun has been with IL MAKIAGE nearly since its inception two and a half years ago. Alongside this career, he also oversees communications at Hydrow, a high-end, connected at-home rowing machine producer.
“It’s definitely unique and not something everyone can do,” Braun stated, regarding his two jobs. “The products are different, the people are different, but at the end of the day, it’s the same mission: making sure brands are being perceived in the appropriate light, with meaningful and effective product launches for the brand’s growth and story.”
Braun said both brands play an important role amid the ongoing pandemic. IL MAKIAGE identifies clients’ perfect skin tone matches all from home, reducing the need for in-person shopping. Similarly, Hydrow’s central focus is on at-home workouts during a time when everyone has been forced to stay home from the gym.
Whether it’s makeup, technology, exercise, or politics, Braun loves his career because it’s constantly changing.
“Every day is so different, every hour is so different which is what keeps me going,” Braun said. “The uncertainty is scary to some, but it’s exciting to me.”
Greta Holtzman, Staff Writer
Greta Holtzman grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and is now a sophomore studying public relations. As someone who has always enjoyed writing, she is thrilled to be involved in the COMmunicator. In her free time, Greta loves doing ballet, developing her knowledge in makeup and skincare, and trying new restaurants in Boston!