PR Girls We Love: Sabrina Wottreng, Sabrina Wottreng PR

Sabrina Wottreng Public Relations is a Chicago-based public relations agency, providing strategic communications consulting and PR training for small businesses and start-ups. Founder Sabrina Wottreng recognized that often, businesses most in need of public relations are unable to afford typical agency retainers, and yet she hated the thought of missing out on the opportunity to work with companies she admired due to budget limits. And so, she forged her company around the needs of startup companies.

Instead of simply offering PR services, Sabrina developed products that help small businesses and entrepreneurs learn how to be their own publicist including e-books, classes and one-on-one trainings. Her client process is as follows:  first, teaching clients how to do their own PR, then reviewing an audit of the client’s branding and then finally, meeting face-to-face to devise a PR plan that is then executed by the client. After that initial engagement, the client can choose to sign on for a retainer.

In her spare time, Sabrina dedicates her time to writing a novel, taking improv classes at the Second City, and riding around the city on her beloved Ducati.


Sabrina Wottreng, Freelance Publicist, HeadshotName: Sabrina Wottreng
Company: Sabrina Wottreng Public Relations
Title: 
Publicist, Owner
Education: 
Loyola University Chicago
Twitter: @SabrinaWottreng
Instagram: @SabrinaWottreng 

How did you get started in PR?

I went to college wanting to be a luxury consignment business owner, but then I learned what PR was, became obsessed and switched majors. My first PR internship was with Zapwater Communications in Chicago.

How did you get the job you have now?

What a long story! After hopping around a few different agencies and never fitting in or liking how they do business and having an in-house role, I realized I needed to create the PR firm I wish I would have worked for.

What are your primary responsibilities?

Winning new business, securing press, and teaching small companies how to do their own PR until they’re ready to hire a firm.

I have my go-to social media, web development, graphic design, copywriting and photography vendors. We maintain our autonomous freedom and create an A-Team for the client.

Tell us a bit about how different communication departments are structured at your company.

I am a one person show, but I have many preferred vendors that go in on projects with me. I have my go-to social media, web development, graphic design, copywriting and photography vendors. We maintain our autonomous freedom and create an A-Team for the client.

What is the mood like in the office?

My office is my laptop, and I’m working on building up my #diyPR seminars. I’m putting a large amount of effort towards efficiency and productivity. Instead of having five, one-hour prospective client meetings to explain what PR is and what PR I do, they can attend a seminar of mine. They will learn how I do PR and walk away with tips and industry knowledge. If they become my client, then I’ve saved time initially meeting them one-on-one.

PR Girls We Love, Freelance Publicist, Sabrina Wottreng, Office

Image Credit: Ashley Hutchinson

 

What is a recent success story that makes you especially proud?

I recently launched a tech startup in a very specific niche. We conducted interviews with all of the major outlets for the industry, and the client was overwhelmed with demand for their Beta Test!

What are you really good at?

I’m really good at networking. I probably have a contact in my CRM for any random ask. From calligraphy to custom dog bones to drone pilot, I have a guy!

If you see someone that you think is interesting or doing cool things, get coffee with them.

Most memorable and meaningful moments in your career thus far?

Memorable: I was billed into a project and did not have direct access to the client until they were with me at the TV station before a segment. Before the segment, I sent over talking points to memorize. However, the the rapper didn’t have the points memorized. I figured his team was going to yell at the marketing company that billed me in on the project because I had to be stern, and quickly media train him before he went live. Instead his team asked me to consult with them for a few months.

Meaningful: April 22, 2014 – I was interning at a top agency and doing PR for a few small, small companies on the side. In my daily monitoring of a side client, I saw that they had a featured article about their product line expansion on Esquire.com. I thought to myself – why am I getting paid $10 an hour, to be an intern, when I have a college degree? I can get an article in Esquire.com!

Most glamorous moment in your career thus far?

Glamour in PR is such a myth!!! However, there have been some great client gifts along the way. If you call telling celebrities the names of reporters walking up to them glamorous, there’s that.

My mind is swirling with flashbacks of the craziness that is high stakes events. There was the time I was running up stairs in heels carrying boxes full of client swag because the elevators went out. Every single event, you have people doing ANYTHING and EVERYTHING possible to get you to let them in when they are not on the guest list.

Least glamorous moment in your career thus far?

I would say the least glamorous moment in my PR career was dropping of product to an influencer that I’d been communicating with for a while and having them deny me access to their room. The doorman took the expensive product and I went on my way.

PR can be so many different things…

My mind is swirling with flashbacks of the craziness that is high stakes events. There was the time I was running up stairs in heels carrying boxes full of client swag because the elevators went out. Every single event, you have people doing ANYTHING and EVERYTHING possible to get you to let them in when they are not on the guest list.

What’s a big challenge facing communicators right now?

The biggest challenge is defining what PR is. Some agencies also do social media, some agencies just do traditional and don’t work with influencers, some agencies are all about events and less about placements and so on. PR can be so many different things that I’ve found it important to specifically spell out the PR that I do.For example, I don’t do events. If my client wants to do an event, I’ll refer them to great event planners.

PR can be stressful and full of rejection – how do you deal?

PR is sales, therefore it’s a numbers game. There will always be another client and another reporter. It’s hard when you’re really banking on something or someone, but it makes the wins even more exciting.

What are three must-have tools, apps, or products that are essential to your job?

Cision, HARO, and Coffee.

PR Girls We Love, Sabrina Wottreng Branding, Freelance Publicist

Image Credit: Ashley Hutchinson 

 

What do you wish more people understood about your job?

I wish people stopped thinking PR is just press releases and calling reporters. The industry has changed exponentially and antiquated ways are dead. My job is about connecting the dots.

PR trends are always changing – how do you keep up?

  • I’m an avid reader of the publications I frequently pitch along with business and tech-centric publications.
  • Networking! It’s common for me to attend 4-7 networking events per week.
  • I love to attend seminars and hear what others are saying about social media, marketing, and advertising.

What type of person thrives at your company?

Go-getters. My tribe of creative vendors are serious go-getters, and we all benefit from each other’s hustle.

What would you tell someone who wants to be you when they grow up?

Hustle, trust your gut, and practice giver’s gain!

Hustle – If you see someone that you think is interesting or doing cool things, get coffee with them. Knowing people has been essential to my success and ability to run my own company at 23.

Trust your gut – There have been times when I took on clients because I needed the money even though I was getting a bad vibe. Those clients were the ones that didn’t pay me, called me incessantly and caused me the most stress.

Giver’s gain – All of my business has come to me via referral. When I meet with people, I always ask who their best referral networks are and then I introduce them to people I know that fit their need. For example, social media specialists are a great referral source for me, so I always love getting connected with as many social media specialists as possible. When you introduce someone to a person that can make them more money, they will likely do the same.

 

Thanks, Sabrina!