It’s now been 10 years since I started my business Pink Pearl PR to help juvenile product brands expand their reach into global markets. I have worked with some notable children’s product manufacturers, retailers, and media professionals at major magazines.
We represented clients in-person at industry tradeshows and attracted business all the way from London and Australia! Although Pink Pearl PR started as an agency focused on the kids’ market, we have since expanded our niche into beauty, fashion, and décor.
I also started an industry organization – Women in PR North America – to advocate for equal pay and to help women move into leadership positions in the PR industry.
Over these past 10 years, I’ve learned a lot from working with so many different brands. In this post, I’m sharing my top 10 lessons working in the public relations industry – along with what’s next for my personal brand.
1. Members of the Media Aren’t Always Your Friends
Reporters, journalists, trade magazine writers, freelance business writers, and bloggers are not always your friend. It can feel counterintuitive and unnatural at times, but they have a duty to report the news (and it’s not always positive).
Public relations and media relations are often interchangeable. As communicators, most of us enjoy working with the media. It’s natural to make genuine connections, build rapport, and form long-term mutually beneficial relationships.
We work to turn them into our allies and over time start to see them as our industry colleagues. However, they aren’t our best friends. Blurring the lines between professional collegiality and friendship can lead us to compromise our business.
A reporter or journalist’s professional obligation isn’t to you – no matter how close you feel to them or how long you’ve cultivated a connection. You can never expect a member of the media to refrain from writing about or publishing things that are unfavorable to you.
Remember that there’s no such thing as a truly off-the-record conversation. So, always be careful with what you say around the media and how you say it. Never let your guard down no matter how familiar you are with them. This can be a hard lesson to learn if you have to do so through experience.
2. It’s Never Too Early to Start Doing Media Relations
Start your media pitching early even if it feels like there isn’t much to talk about. This will help you build traction before you need it, train yourself to deliver when it matters, make connections, become familiar with the scene, and start developing a name for yourself.
There are tons of small media outlets that are perfect for this. Trade publications have always been go-to outlets for anyone working their way up. Also consider podcasts, digital trade journals, and other niched publications.
3. Product Pitching is Personal
A rookie mistake is to focus purely on the product when pitching it. That can happen out of nervousness, laziness, or lack of information. Pitches must be relevant to the audience. Why does it mean something to them, why should they care about it, and why does it matter now? The best pitches are personalized, timely, and can be tied into something that’s happening now.
4. Cancel-Proof Your Social Media
Business and personal social media profiles represent one of the biggest dangers to the modern business or personal brand. You can lose years’ worth of work, your business, and your entire career in an instant.
All social media profiles must be cleaned up regularly – even the ones that haven’t been in use for years. (Especially those ones.) Personal branding and social media guidelines need to be monitored or you might find yourself out of touch with what’s considered socially acceptable in the ever-changing online culture.
Far too many people get caught up in drama that could have been avoided with a simple social media purge. There are legions of trolls ready and waiting to comb through your profiles at any time. Some of those trolls could be linked to your competition.
If you want to develop a strong personal brand that gets positive media attention, it must be cancel-proof. Start with your social media profiles, and make sure you are asking people to join your mailing list so you can contact them outside of social media.
5. Steal Like an Artist
Public relations isn’t only about creativity. It’s about finding what works and crafting it to suit your business. That applies to branding, thought leadership, product pitching formulas, and publicity in general.
Creativity is highly overrated and can quickly lead you off-track if that’s what you base your work on. That often ends up tanking product promotions and ruining brands.
There are tons of marketing and branding flub stories that come down to creativity taking precedence over good sense and market intuition.
Find out what’s already moving your market, steal it, and tweak it to make it your own. It won’t backfire when done right. The experts routinely get new inspiration from archetypes, decades-old marketing work, pop culture, and more.
6. Learn How to Apologize
At some point in time, almost everyone engaged in media or public relations will have to apologize on behalf of a business. It might be due to firing off a tweet with an overly strong tone, sending an automated email with a joke that lands wrong after an unexpected news event, or perhaps running into unforeseen delays.
A sincere corporate apology is one of the few things that can bring back a frustrated customer or soothe an angry digital crowd. Be prepared to apologize to individual customers, a general client base, and the public – whether or not they’re part of the market.
7. Don’t Let a Dominant Market Player Scare You Off
The business world loves to talk about the first-mover advantage. It’s when the first company to bring a new kind of product or service to the market has an unbeatable advantage.
This idea has steered many entrepreneurs away from entering certain marketplaces. However, have you ever heard the saying, “pioneers get arrows in their backs”? This saying refers to the fact that the first person to do something often pays a heavy price for doing so.
The first mover must shoulder the costs of finding new ways to do things, testing ideas, and discovering what doesn’t work. This market discovery burden has tanked many companies that had successful products.
It’s fine to not be the first one on the scene and it’s often an advantage – especially for branding, product pitching, and public relations.
Study the success and failures of dominant market players and successful first movers. Where have they had to pivot or switch things up? What tactics and appeals do they rely on? Have they had to rebrand or change customer bases?
8. The Media Has Needs – Understand Them and Meet Them
Journalists, reporters, bloggers, and other media members are human beings with their own interests, goals, and needs. You’ll be more successful when you figure out what those are and learn how to cater your media pitching to them. This includes knowing their deadlines, schedule, editorial calendar, personal interests, and more. This is also why brands work with public relations agencies and expert consultants because they have spent years getting this right.
9. Female Entrepreneurs Have to Get Comfortable With Leadership and Self-Promotion
Female entrepreneurs have made strides over the past few years, but we still have so much further to go to move into positions of leadership.
The gender imbalance is still stark in leadership circles, and the public relations industry is a perfect example of this. PR has historically been dominated by women – at least when it comes to pure numbers. However, that doesn’t mean we’ve reached the top.
We still haven’t made enough progress when it comes to taking charge. That’s a problem I’m working to fix through the Organization of American and Canadian Women in Public Relations (Women in PR North America).
Join my FREE Facebook group the Fempreneur Network to connect with your fellow female entrepreneurs.
10. Personal Branding Matters
There’s a customer loyalty crisis. Brand loyalty and retention keep reaching new lows, while churn goes up. It’s harder than ever to win customers and harder than ever to retain them.
The real crisis is a lack of personal connection. Consumers want to interact with real people, not a faceless company. They want to know the person behind the brand. If they don’t feel connected with you personally, they aren’t likely to feel a sense of loyalty to you.
Personal branding gives them this! That’s why female entrepreneurs and executives who are looking to build brand trust and future proof their business must take personal branding seriously.
I’d love to personally connect with you on Instagram and you can find me on my handle: @taliadavispr
What do the next 10 years hold?
Fast forward 10 years and a lot has changed from when I first entered the public relations industry. As I shared in my interview on the Stories and Strategies podcast, I used to work as a marketing generalist, until I finally specialized, and my PR knowledge grew exponentially.
It has me thinking about what’s next, especially on the other side of a global pandemic. We’ve shifted our operations online, and we are helping our clients get found online too. We’ve promoted countless products and services, but we also think it’s important for female entrepreneurs and executives to showcase their personal brands.
That’s why I’m thrilled to share that I’ve launched a brand-new PR agency under my own personal brand – Talia Davis Public Relations. This agency is focused on thought leadership strategy and personal branding. We also provide thought leadership training inside the Public Relations Academy. You can work with me personally through a VIP day experience or you can hire our team to launch your own podcast to showcase your expertise.
I believe that when you set-up your thought leadership strategy to consistently attract quality leads to your unique offer, you will sell your products or services with confidence. I know it can be challenging to get the media to feature you in expert publications, especially if you don’t know how you stand-out. There is a simple solution, and it starts with clarifying your unique area of expertise.
I invite you to work with me personally to simplify your PR strategy at Talia Davis PR. Sign-up for a VIP day here: http://taliadavispr.com/vip-day
I’m also thrilled to share that I wrote a book, FEMPRENEUR, that describes how female entrepreneurs can create their own memorable brand image. This book has been years in the making, and it’s finally available on Amazon!
You can buy your copy of FEMPRENEUR: Create your memorable brand image and become an unstoppable female entrepreneur online here.
If you buy the hardcover or paperback copy of the Fempreneur book from my link and leave me a review on Amazon, I will send you a complimentary copy of my Industry Influencer course as a thank you. Send me an email to let me know you bought it and tag me on Instagram @TaliaDavisPR using hashtag #FempreneurBook
If you want to be the first to hear about our VIP perks to celebrate the launch of my new agency and the Fempreneur book, join my mailing list.
I also believe that it’s important to specialize – and that’s why I’m creating this new PR agency to separate our unique services. Our team at Pink Pearl PR will be focused on pitching brands to major magazines and other high-profile publications.
Talia Davis PR will be focused on helping ambitious women stand-out online with their signature expertise so they can build a memorable, profitable brand image. Work with me to create a unique thought leadership system that attracts new opportunities and makes you more money.
At Pink Pearl PR + Talia Davis PR, we provide a wide range of public relations programs to help you build your brand and achieve your social media marketing goals. Book a call today to learn more about how we can help.