Position: Bridal/Eveningwear Publicist
Company: CLD PR
Location: Los Angeles
Written by Dyan Dolfi-Offutt, Soda Pop PR
As we head into the inevitable busyness of Q4, now is a great time to take a step back and reflect on the year and commit to plans for 2018. Here’s my question: how’s your company culture shaping up?
These days, in order to attract and retain top talent, PR agency owners and managers need to ensure a thriving company culture as much as salary and benefits. And as small business owners, we have to be committed to finding creative, budget-friendly ways to foster a sense of community that will establish core values and a sense of belonging.
For us, one initiative that helped to define company culture at Soda Pop Public Relations is our annual retreat, where we get out of the office for a few days and spend time dreaming, planning and having fun together. If you’re interested in establishing something similar, here are a few tips & ideas to help you get started.
Be thoughtful about the location of your retreat
The location sets the tone, so pick a place your team will be excited about, and ideally, a myriad of nearby options for food, drink and play. We held our most recent retreat was at Caravan Outpost in Ojai and it was by far our favorite spot yet. Use Instagram to research cool new spots in your area and target boutique hotels or privately owned spots as they are more likely to have hands-on staff that go above and beyond to help you plan and add personalized touches.
Bonus tip: If budgets are tight, stay in the off-season or during the week. Airbnb can also be great budget-friendly resource.
Beware of over-scheduling your employees
It can be tempting to jam-pack that itinerary – after all, you likely have some big goals you want to discuss and some important decisions to make in concert with your team. However, make room for spontaneity – this is often when the big A-has happen. Resist the urge to tackle every aspect of the business that needs TLC and instead identify 2-3 topics to address over the course of the retreat. Host discussions as workshops with clear outcomes.
Bonus tip: Don’t be afraid of bringing in outside resources to give yourself a break from leading the conversation. In the past we’ve partnered with influencers that shared insights about social media, artists for creativity workshops and a professional organizer (Beth Penn from Bneato Bar provided valuable tools to help manage the craziness of email clutter!).
Model vulnerability and build trust and commitment to your vision
Vulnerably is the heartbeat of innovation and creativity…it also takes enormous courage to be vulnerable, especially in the work place. Your agency retreat is the ideal opportunity to dedicate time to sit around the proverbial fire and get personal. As a leader, your willingness to open up about the state of business, insecurity, and fears opens the door for participants to get similarly real about the challenges currently impacting personal and professional growth.
Bonus Tip: Give your team a heads up that this is part of the retreat’s focus and provide conversation starters rather than simply asking a big scare question. We used a Ted Talk about vulnerability to kick off our conversation.
Don’t forget to enjoy yourself!
Laughing until your sides hurt, inside jokes, hilarious mishaps – these are the gold of a life-changing retreat experience. So eat, drink and play! Public Relations is an exciting industry but it also is ranked as one of the most stressful professions. To thank your team for their hard work, make sure to add good food, drink and activities to the itinerary.
Bonus Tip: As an extra takeaway, have a photographer take headshots of your team as a post-retreat thank you.
As you plan your event, put into practice the same creativity you employ for clients. Add in a surprise element no one on the team has experienced such as learning to cook over a campfire or a wine safari adventure. Any event worth talking about includes a thoughtful gift so include a gift bag, and don’t forget to take advantage of this time together and have a photographer on site to capture images that you can use for marketing and company branding moving forward.
As the founder and owner of L.A. based Soda Pop Public Relations, a PR shop that specializes in media and influencer relations, product launches, campaigns and events for food, beverage and lifestyle clients, Dyan Dolfi-Offutt has over 10 years of experience managing teams. Dyan has a passion for mentoring and has taught workshops and spoke on panels at Create & Cultivate, Worthy Women and at her alma mater Ohio University. When Dyan is not in the office you will find her a local restaurants with friends, planning her next road trip or relaxing at her home in Echo Park with her husband and impossibly adorable dog.
Position: PR Assistant
Location: Fort Collins, Colorado
Fashion PR Fridays: Top Fashion, Public Relations, Marketing and Social Media News
...for the week of July 24, 2017
Desk Sides may sound like ancient history, but you won't believe the power they have on editors (via Bad Girl Good Biz Blog)
Looking to stand out amongst the sea of press releases in an editor's inbox? This app may just be your next best friend (via Entrepreneur)
Major PR scandal? Here's 4 lessons every agency can learn from PR firm Bell Pottinger (via PR Week)
LA-based iPhone case brand experienced explosive growth thanks to these effective social strategies (via WWD)
You won't believe what quick and easy strategy companies in every industry can use to ensure growth (via Odwyer PR)
An iPhone app that scans your foot and creates a custom pair of shoes? What more can a girl ask for! (via CNBC)
Searching for your next big content marketing strategy? Look no further, live video is all you need (via Insights)
Choose the perfect social media management tool for you and your company (via Social Media Today)
Michael Kors officially acquires Jimmy Choo for nearly $1.2 billion (via Fashionista)
Debating whether or not you should automate your Instagram marketing? Learn more by clicking here (via Advertising Age)
New Facebook updates are making it a lot easier for brands and businesses to engage with consumers (via Business Insider)
Be Social specializes in public relations, influencer relations, event marketing, social media marketing and digital publicity. Alongside Founder Ali Grant, PR Manager Kate Labat and team offer up savvy approaches to modern media and strategic communications for fashion, beauty, lifestyle and talent brands across the spectrum. The Agency Digital Presence Award recognizes communications agencies, and solo practitioners with a robust online presence and clear command of online branding, content and marketing tactics.
Internally, Be Social utilizes its digital presence for employee recognition and internal updates. If an employee has been promoted, or simply achieved a great client press win or accolade, the team manager sends a company-wide email for an employee shout out. Be Social also recognizes new employees or special awards with shout outs on the company’s Instagram.
Be Social’s consistent branding across platforms creates an inviting, intriguing and overall desirable presence, which has proven a successful strategy to field inbound talent inquiries and client leads.
How does it feel to win Agency Digital Presence? How is your team going to celebrate?
Our entire team is very honored to have won the Agency Digital Presence award! Let’s just say we toasted a glass of rose (or two)…
How do you make sure your agency is always keeping your digital presence a priority?
We live and breathe social media! We carve out time for our personal agency presence, so we’re staying on top of trends through our Instagram and blog. The most effective online marketing strategy for us has been utilizing Instagram as an extension of Be Social’s company culture and overall digital presence.
What is your team most excited about right now?
Influencer casting is really fun! We love selecting influencers for our brand partners and seeing those campaigns come to life!
We carve out time for our personal agency presence…
What advice can you give our PR readers about staying current in the digital landscape?
Always absorb information! The landscape is always changing, so it’s important to stay informed via trend reports, case studies, white papers and of course, social media!
If we looked inside your bag right now, what PR survival must-haves would we find?
iPhone! It’s EVERYTHING.
What industry trends are on your radar for 2018?
We definitely see more traditional agencies diving into the influencer space. As a PR professional, we are moving more and more into the digital realm, so a strong sense of social media is necessary.
Is there any new or exciting changes happening at Be Social?
We’re in planning mode for the 2018 BCAs! Want to get in involved as a sponsor, judge or volunteer? Email email@example.com
Position: Junior Account Executive
Company: Litzky PR
Location: New Jersey
You’ve nailed your pitches. You’re securing great coverage. It’s time for you to move into a managerial role, right?
Not so fast.
While moving from tactical executor to a PR manager may seem like an obvious transition, it takes more than just a few big “wins” to get there. Managing people is much different than managing work. It’s about walking the walk, talking the talk and being ready to lead by example – all day, every day.
It requires you to think differently, organize more efficiently and train your employees well enough that you trust them to lead projects. As most type-A PR pros know, that last part in particular is not easy. The goal of becoming a manager is a continuous work in progress, but when you prepare an action plan to prove to your boss – and yourself – that you’re ready for managerial responsibilities, you’re well on your way. Here are a few ways our current managers showed us they were ready for the next step.
1. Pinpoint mentorship opportunities
Even if you don’t have direct reports, you can still practice mentorship skills with interns and colleagues. Let’s say you’re an expert at pitching influencers. Pass that knowledge on to an intern who’s shown particular interest in the subject. Set regular “training” meetings where you cover a different part of influencer relations, and at the end, evaluate how well your mentee has learned by having them attempt a few influencer pitches. By tracking this progress, you can not only feel great about sharing your expertise – you’ll have tangible evidence to show your boss just how successful your management skills have been so far. Yes, this requires you to be proactive and take initiative, but that’s truly one of the most important management traits of all!
2. Volunteer to lead
Another great way to demonstrate your leadership skills is to successfully lead a project start to finish. Sometimes this is as easy as telling your supervisor that you’d like to run a specific pitch initiative. In other cases, if the team doesn’t have a specific program for you to lead, you can create an opportunity yourself – such as launching your agency’s blog. It’s up to you to speak up and secure your opportunities, and it’s equally up to you to report back on your successes to your supervisors.
3. Invest in positive work relationships
In order to manage employees, you need to have strong employee relations skills. This means proactive communications to your superiors, positive reinforcement for your peers and, above all else, an overall authoritative (albeit friendly) tone. Your specific style of leadership – strict, laid back, etc. – is up to you. But, no matter the style, you need to show your boss that you can work, get along and garner respect from all kinds of people in order to lead your own team.
4. Provide solutions
As an executional team member, you know you can lean on your manager to help you make decisions and navigate tough situations. But as the manager? Not so much. Yes, you obviously have supervisors who can give you a gut check, but as part of this new step, your boss will expect big picture thinking – and that means strategizing your way through issues. At our agency, new (and seasoned) managers are never left out to dry – but they are challenged to think differently as they progress along in their careers. Even if it’s just presenting possible solutions to your bosses, it’s taking that extra step to consider what the final decision could or should be, that gets you practicing manager-mode right away.
It’s up to you to speak up and secure your opportunities, and it’s equally up to you to report back on your successes to your supervisors.
5. Schedule performance check-ins
I’ll say this loud and clear: You cannot reach your full potential alone. You need a strong team surrounding you – and a helpful mentor of your own – to get from one career stage to the next. Leverage your supervisor’s management and mentorship skills and schedule regular check-ins to discuss how you’re progressing along your track. That’s why they’re in a leadership role to begin with! Whether you’re learning from the content of your meetings, observing their overarching mentorship style – or both – working directly with your supervisor will get you exactly where you need to be for that promotion.
(And, quick bonus tip – remember, it’s on you to reach out and request that assistance! That within itself shows you’re taking this seriously.)
6. Become the company’s ‘go to’
There’s a big difference between answering questions and providing insight. Initially someone may ask for a contact at a specific media outlet; their next question may be for your help in strategizing the best target outlet. If you’re everyone’s ‘go to,’ it will be noticed by management. It shows that you are a team player and take an interest in having others succeed.
7. Make the ask
Everyone hopes their professional acumen will be noticed and appreciated – but, in the busy PR world, that’s not always the case. We’re lucky at our agency; our current EVP instilled a tradition of writing congratulatory notes for team members after every ‘win.’ It’s now part of our culture.
However, if you’re not in a similar situation and you feel ready to assume more responsibility, invite your supervisor to lunch and simply ask. Unfortunately, most managers aren’t mind readers, and it’s up to you to take the initiative to get them on the same wavelength. Now, just because you broach the subject doesn’t mean it will happen; be ready for whatever helpful feedback may come your way. Use the opportunity to discuss goals and the road map that will get you to the next level.
As you progress from one role to the next, from executional to management, you’re going to learn a lot, and at times you may get frustrated. Remember, your PR career is a marathon, not a sprint, and every manager had to start at the beginning!
Position: Asst. Account Executive
Company: The Dana Agency
Fashion PR Fridays: Top Fashion, Public Relations, Marketing and Social Media News
...for the week of July 17, 2017
Working for yourself and sounds like a great idea, but is entrepreneurship really the right fit? (via MsIndependent)
Meetings just got fun again with conference call bingo (via Good)
See a return in your PR investment by using PR attribution in these four areas (via AirPR)
Five ways on how you can not only survive but thrive in a new city as a college grad (via One Lucid)
Facebook announced that it will soon allow media outlets to charge readers for access to their stories (via Business Insider)
Disney launched the Disney Design Challenge, a web series documenting the ‘Project Runway’ style process of six students from the Otis College of Art and Design competing to create a winning collection inspired by the world of Frozen and the unique style of Los Angeles. See the winning looks (via WWD)
25 pro tips on how to get effective media coverage as a small business (via Fit Small Business)
Swim week is back and here's a whole list of shows you don't want to miss out on (via Miami.com)
Tips and tricks on how to stay productive and on track with your work this summer (via Jenna Schario)
Authenticity and bigger budgets are just some of the ways in which influencer marketing has grown over the past several years (via Social Media Week)
A to Z guide on how to build a successful and powerful personal brand (via PR Daily)
Profiles, Inc., the Baltimore-based marketing and communications firm, is pleased to announce that marketing and public relations specialist, Bridget Forney is rejoining its team as Vice President. Senior Vice President Jamie Watt Arnold has been selected as a 2017 recipient of The Daily Record’s “Very Important Professionals” award, making her the second Profiles associate to make the VIP list.
Amanda Tropila, formerly of The RealReal, and Platinum Guild International, has been named PR & Projects Manager at NYC. Tina Smith has been named Administrative Assistant at Luxury Brand Group LA.
Agency33 Public Relations, Nashville’s first LGBT focused firm, recently began operations under the leadership of entertainment industry veteran Joey Amato. Most recently, Amato served as Publicity Manager for Webster Public Relations with previous stints at Sony Music New York, Relevant Communications, and iHeart Radio. In addition, Amato served as publisher of Unite Magazine, Nashville’s premiere LGBT publication.
Position: PR/Design Services Manager
Company: New York Design Center
Position: PR Account Supervisor
Company: Think PR
Position: Fashion/Beauty PR Intern
Company: Lindsey Smolan PR