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Figures of Progress: Aliza Licht, SVP Global Communications, Donna Karan International

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Every day, about 400 million tweets are sent across Twitter, and 30 billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook each month. Among all this social media chatter, how do you make your voice heard? For Aliza Licht, the senior vice president of Global Communications at fashion brand Donna Karan International, this is her daily challenge.

A 15-year veteran at the brand, Licht is also the all-knowing voice behind DKNY PR Girl’s sprawling social presence (she’s on nine platforms). Licht says, “My intuition was to be real and transparent and inject my personality into it.”

Through social media, she interacts with customers and offers behind-the-scene access for events and upcoming designs. She even does a little customer service, like recently calling a store to find out how the sizing on a particular dress runs for a curious Twitter follower. “I can feel the engagement because I play an active role in the conversation,” says Licht.

Licht who personally—and organically—built DKNY’s Twitter presence from zero to nearly half a million, notes, “The ‘PR Girl’ filter gained traction quickly, but it wasn’t without criticism. “What most people didn’t seem to understand was why DKNY PR Girl would share personal anecdotes. The concept of humanizing a brand was foreign. But humanizing a brand is exactly what social media is about,” says Licht. “I’m happy I stayed the course.”

Being open is part of who Licht is, and the very public play-by-plays of her life don’t faze her. Though she was once the anonymous voice of the DKNY PR Girl, she revealed herself on YouTube in late 2011. “My modus operandi is being real, and I hope in being real I can inspire others to be. Transparency is not only a pillar of social media, I believe it’s a pillar of life,” she says.

As one of the first fashion brands in the social space, Licht at first had nothing to compare DKNY’s success to, but now, as brands worldwide are just discovering how to use social media, Licht turns to data. “I love using data to analyze the words that caused a certain reaction,” she says. “How loud was the clap?” When analyzing whether her words were met with cheers or crickets, Licht says, “Data is essentially my social report card.”

As for the future of social media? “I think eventually social media will be live and visual,” says Licht. Like, we’re all playing a global game of Hollywood Squares. If you have no idea what that is, Google it.”

Read more from leaders like Licht at Figures of Progress, including interviews with Matthew Stinchcomb, VP at Etsy, Jennifer Pahlka, founder of Code for America; Adam Brotman, chief digital officer of Starbucks; Rachel Sterne, CIO of the city of New York; and Oliver Hurst-Hiller, CTO of

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