PR Girls We Love: Gabrielle Boyd, PR Exec, Tourism New Zealand

Gabrielle Boyd is a creative public relations professional with a decade of experience in travel and lifestyle consumer public relations. She is also skilled in many other areas of communications, especially with event coordination, media relations, and writing.

In her recent roles, she has worked on many high-profile film and television destination PR campaigns including working with the ABC series The Bachelor and the NBC series The Biggest Loser.

Gabrielle Boyd
Title: PR Executive – North America
Education: Auckland University of Technology (New Zealand), Journalism
Location: Santa Monica, CA
Company: Tourism New Zealand

How did you get started in the industry?

I majored in journalism in college as I always loved writing, but when it came to choosing a career I ended up being more interested in PR. My first internship was working for an arts festival which was made up of many different events and it was part of my intern role to promote a game-show

My first internship was working for an arts festival which was made up of many different events and it was part of my intern role to promote a game-show-esque event. I really enjoyed the whole process from thinking of angles, to writing the pitch, identifying media to pitch to and seeing the end results.

How did you get the job you have now?

I work for a destination marketing organization (DMO) and am part of a small in-house PR team. One of my friends from college (who majored in PR) was working for the same organization when I was applying for the job and thought I’d be a great fit. I applied for the position and got it!

What are your primary responsibilities?

It really depends on what day it is! My job has a ton of variety, which I appreciate as I never get bored. From working on media pitches and press releases to planning media events and media famils, to meeting with journalists and inviting the trades to noteworthy events that our trade marketing team is doing, no day is the same. I also work very closely with the other departments. I connect with corporate communications if there are any negative destination stories that are breaking. I work with our consumer marketing team to promote anything newsworthy.

What is the mood like in the office? What are you working on right now?

Our office is open plan and very collaborative. Everyone in the office bounces ideas off of each other and is eager to help each other out. I’m currently working on securing media for upcoming events that we have coming up in 2017 and our regular newsletters and mail outs.

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

It helps to have thick skin and to not take things personally. Whoever is lashing out/ sending you a rejection email would be sending it to whoever is in your position.

What are three current favorite tools, apps, or products that you love?

Google trips is a really useful app for keeping track of what trips you have coming up. If you’re a Gmail user you don’t need to send it anything, it pulls everything from your Gmail automatically and suggests things to do and day plans for the place you’re headed.

Ride-share apps Uber and Lyft are both essential for any Angeleno. I also use them frequently when I am traveling for business (except to Vancouver! They don’t have it right now).

I also love Snapchat. I mainly use it for personal use but I’ve gotten some pitch ideas from there too.

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

I was working with a freelance journalist who was pitching a story to the influential lifestyle magazine Robb Report. The story ended up even better than I imagined, it showcased many different products and was a huge feature story.

Whoever is lashing out/ sending you a rejection email would be sending it to whoever is in your position.

What’s the most memorable moment in your career thus far?

There are so many! The ones that immediately spring to mind are the involved event PR campaigns, like the recent global destination campaign around the movie Pete’s Dragon. Many of my coworkers came together to achieve a common goal. Working with so many great people and building lasting relationships with journalists are the memories that really stand out to me.

I also love Snapchat. I mainly use it for personal use but I’ve gotten some pitch ideas from there too.

Most glamorous moment in your career thus far?

Having VIP access to, and working at, two movie junkets as part of partnerships between the organization I work for and the movie studios. It felt very glamorous to have all-access passes and to have movie stars walking by me in the halls.

Least glamorous moment in your career thus far?

Late nights packing down pop-up banners and promotional materials after an event. Although that is usually followed by celebratory cocktails, so I can’t complain.

What do you wish more people understood about your job?

That I don’t do damage control!

Many people think PR is just about putting out fires. Like many organizations, we have a separate department for corporate communications and another for consumer PR, which is what I do.

Working with so many great people and building lasting relationships with journalists are the memories that really stand out to me.

What’s on your radar right now?

Augmented reality and virtual reality are two trends that have had a lot of hype lately and I’m interested to see what the next steps are for both of them. I stay on top of industry trends by reading a lot, from PR Week and Ad Week to Hollywood Reporter and Media Bistro. I also love watching the local news (LA’s ABC7!) to see what’s important to Angelenos. I’m also a member of several relevant organizations such as the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). I attend their events when I can, PRSA also has fantastic conferences.

Many people think PR is just about putting out fires. Like many organizations, we have a separate department for corporate communications and another for consumer PR, which is what I do.

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

Don’t get into PR because you think it is glamorous, but because it’s something you’re passionate about and interested in. I hear of entry-level PR people that refuse to help with gift bags, mail outs or printing labels. Those are often jobs that the most seasoned PR pros still help with.

Thanks Gabrielle!

PR Industry News: NY Mag’s The Strategist, New Firms JM Collective & The Influence

PR Couture Industry News


Beach House announces its representation of Rubis of Switzerland and will be handling all communications, influencer marketing, and social media for the brand.

New York Magazine announces the launch of “The Strategist,” a new site for helping people shop the internet using expert recommendations.

Beauty brand consultant Jeannine Morris announces the launch of her new consultancy firm The JM Collective. The firm aims to bring high-level consulting services to entrepreneurs and indies—with a small-firm budget in mind.

Alexandra Lasky, fashion, beauty and nightlife executive formerly at SHADOW, announces the launch of talent activation firm “The Influence.” The business is moving away from traditional PR and towards influencer-based activations and will focus on celebrity marketing and branding.

Founder and CEO of Krupp Kommunications (K2), Heidi Krupp, has been named the winner of two Stevie Awards, in the “Communications or PR Campaign of the Year – Community Relations” and “Lifetime Achievement – Business” categories.

The LaunchPad Agency has introduced its proprietary, turnkey pre-marketing program called Blast-Off, designed to help companies build an early fan community prior to launching their product, brand or service into the market.  

Do you have agency or industry news to share?
We would love to feature employee news, new client announcements, awards, partnerships and more!

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How To Write A Thank You Note Like Anna Wintour

In PR, we’re pretty much in the habit of thanking people daily. Whether sending thanks to an editor who featured your client, acknowledging an employee for going above and beyond, or communicating gratitude to a colleague for a business referral, appreciating others is a job requirement.

For thank you notes in particular, there are steps you can take to impress even the hardened of journalists, the most particular of clients. And while I have yet to receive a thank you note from Ms. Wintour herself, truly exceptional, Vogue-style thank you notes most often have the following 5 components:

Dream Client Thank You Greeting CardThe best thank you notes are handwritten

A quick email thank you can be a great pause on the way to dropping your thank you note in the mail slot, but it should be just that. A handwritten thank you note – from the stationary you choose, the pen you write with, even the stamp, all make an impression. What better way to stand out in this Snapchat/Instagram/Facebook age than by slowing down, writing down your thoughts and giving that old cursive a spin?

A great thank you note expresses impact

Did an editor feature generate more sales than any previous piece of press? Did an intern’s pitch score your client an amazing feature in Us Weekly (that happened to me once – still in touch with that intern!).

A simple, thank you so much for the feature, is simply not enough. Instead, provide your recipient with detailed information about what their gesture did for you and how their efforts made a real difference.
After all, who doesn’t like hearing that they majorly contributed to someone’s happiness?

Memorable thank you notes appeal to the eye

While a box of thank you cards from the Dollar Store won’t break the bank, they also won’t add anything to the exchange. Whether you choose personalized stationery, a gorgeous gold foil greeting card, a bold statement or a hefty letterpress cardstock, send something that makes an instant, positive visual impression. Ask yourself – would this person Instagram this thank you card? Consider choosing something that embodies the recipient – whether it’s a phrase that sums up their personality (check out the PR Couture Card collection) or cute emoji-themed cards for your digitally-savvy coordinator, aim to delight from envelope to open.

Remarkable Thank You Notes include an offer of reciprocation

If you really want to go above and beyond, extend a specific offer to reciprocate at your next opportunity. When your business bestie sends over a new dream client, let him know he’s the first person on your list when you have a chance to do the same. If a stylist places your client’s product on their A-list talent, offer to gift the stylist something from the line to show your gratitude.

Consider a Small Gift to Accompany Your Thank You NoteHey PR Girl Thank You Greeting Card

It’s not necessary (and can be offputting) to send something extravagant. But a small, thoughtful gift can take your thank you note skills to the next level. If your client mentions she loves Game of Thrones, for example, a novelty mug is a great gesture. Your boho-loving colleague might like a bright, Moroccan-style blanket for her next trip to the beach.

Food is often a good idea, but make sure to consider what you’re sending. If you’re in NYC and want to send an edible gift of gratitude to an LA influencer, or you know your client is on vacation this week, don’t send anything perishable, or that needs to be signed for. People in our industry are notoriously off traveling and you don’t want them coming back to a pile of food gone bad.

Your thank you note should be an entire experience intended to honor your recipient through thoughtful details and well-thought-out prose. Don’t be afraid to write or type up your first draft to ensure the message is exactly how you intend it to be received.

PR Account Manager

Position: PR Account Manager
Company: Rinck Advertising
Location: Virtual
Learn more

New Balance Responds, Gucci Laps Burberry & Holiday Window Inspiration

Fashion PR Fridays: Top Fashion, Public Relations, Marketing and Social Media News

…for the week of November 28, 2016

  • Self magazine  goes entirely digital (via The Wall Street Journal)
  • Need help picking a planner for 2017? Here’s a great run-down (via Launch Grow Joy)

Campaigns We Love: Star Wars x Disney x Target x UNICEF x Foray Collective

Who: Talk about a powerful collaboration! All those “X”s have us dizzy with excitement! Disney, Star Wars, Target and UNICEF have teamed up with a handful digital influencers and bloggers from Foray Collective to style limited-edition “Force 4 Fashion” t-shirts. This fashion-meets-fundraising initiative is inspired by the themes of rebellion in the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story film, which revolves around the idea of ordinary people who do something extraordinary. 

kelechi-kaluWhat: Ten “fashion rebels” put their unique spin on styling the t-shirts for a shoot in Downtown LA. Influencers picked include Blake StevenJill Wallace of Little Black BootsJulia FriedmanKaitlynn CarterKelechi Kalu, Kelsey White of Something Beachy, Parker York Smith of The LooksmithRacquel NatashaRobert Graham, and Saul Rasco of Trend Styled.

The t-shirts are now available exclusively at Target and

Why: We always love a bit of fashion for good. These t-shirts support the UNICEF Kid Power Program, for every shirt sold, $5 will be donated to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, up to $1 million, which will help UNICEF improve the lives of children around the world. 

Also, in a sea of influencer similarity, we appreciate any campaign that highlights and endorses a rebel spirit. From a marketer perspective, we can only imagine the challenges involved to execute a singular, clear campaign vision while operating within each brand’s unique guidelines, processes, and priorities. Well done!

Have a campaign we should know about? Send details to

PR Intern

Position: Fashion/Beauty Intern
Company: Lindsey Smolan PR
Location: NYC
Learn more

PR Girls We Love: Jessy Fofana, Founder of LaRue PR

Jessy Laffana LaRue PR Publicist Q&A for PR Couture

While working at Vibe magazine straight out of college, Jessy and a co-worker started Femme Arsenal, a cosmetics company which she then sold at age 27. After working as Director of PR and Marketing at Essie Cosmetics, and in anticipation of becoming a mom, she started her own PR firm. LaRue PR is a boutique agency specializing in fashion, lifestyle, home décor, and tech.

Jessy LaRue PR Founder and Publicist Q & A

Name: Jessy Fofana
Title: Founder/CEO of LaRue PR
Education: Bachelor of Arts at NYU
Location: Bound Brook, NJ
Company: LaRue PR 

Tell us a bit about your career path

I started working at Vibe the day after I graduated from NYU. While many of my friends were traveling and partying, I already was pretty focused on my goals, and at that time it was to write.

While working in editorial as an assistant I ended up starting a small beauty brand with a friend who was a graphic designer, a total fluke based on an ambitious day of diy-ing lip balm. Our recipe went over big with friends and it sort of snowballed into a brand.  Initially it was a side hustle and at 22 years old, we were really winging it but it quickly morphed into something that had real potential.

One of the biggest breaks we got was when we shared our lip balms with an editor at TimeOut NY. The ended up featuring the product and it just took off.Up until that moment I had been a newbie and on the creative side of media. Being on the other end and watching press coverage create momentum totally opened my eyes and made me slightly addicted to securing coverage for my own brand. Within a month we were selling product to stores and that was really my first experience with the power of the PR. As my little beauty business grew I transitioned into agency life and got more traditional experience. Eventually the beauty brand became a full time gig and I focused entirely on PR and Marketing. Those years provided an accelerated learning experience.

When I sold that business, I moved into working in house for other brands in PR and marketing and eventually launched my second entrepreneurial initiative, LaRue PR.  

Jessy Fafona Founder of LaRue PR with her two beautiful children

What are your primary responsibilities?

I work heavily on brand strategy, content creation, new business, and of course all of the traditional aspects of PR from writing and pitching and beyond.

LaRue PR Founder Jessy Fofana

What type of person thrives at LaRue?

Someone creative that is all about a non-traditional approach and willing to take risks. I also don’t micro manage so I need team members that are organized, proactive and frankly, rabid about PR and branding!

What is the mood like in the office?

We keep the mood fun and relaxed. I’ve found a comfortable office environment allows people to work creatively. Being respectful and considerate of everyone on the team is a top priority because it makes for a happy and productive work life. I work closely with all departments and we promote a collaborative environment.

What are you really good at?

I would say writing and strategy are my strongest skill set.

What are three must-haves essential to your job?

We are big users of Slack, Asana and Planoly. It helps the entire team stay involved and up to date and also lets us liaison with clients. Of course, we couldn’t exist without email.

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

We represent Create & Cultivate – an amazing conference series for female millennial entrepreneurs. As a woman-owned business, all of the press coverage we have procured for C&C has been rewarding on so many levels. Press wins included local, regional and national coverage in the LA Times, Fast Company, WWD, InStyle, LA Confidential, Hollywood Reporter, USA Today, Bustle, and beyond.

I need team members that are organized, proactive and frankly, rabid about PR and branding!

Most memorable moment in your career thus far?

Lately, I’ve been participating in panels and events where I serve as a “mentor.” It’s really rewarding to share my story and offer whatever insight I can to people aspiring to work in PR and marketing. I’ve received some amazing “thank you” emails after these events that really have hit home.

Most glamorous moment in your career thus far?

I’ve been in the industry a long time and have done the fashion shows and celebrity meetings. It did feel glamorous and exciting but in all honesty what really makes me feel like a “boss” is being the shot-caller for my company and consequently my own life. That feels pretty glamorous. I will admit that we do have a client taking us to see Beyonce perform in New Orleans! Amazing seats and lots of special treatment are planned. It’s a great client that we adore. That feels pretty glamorous too!

Jessy LaRue PR NYC Founder

Least glamorous moment in your career thus far?

PR is hard work and no matter how successful you are. The day to day is labor intensive and often not at all glamorous. The upside is the parts that aren’t glamorous are what drew me to PR, to begin with. My favorite aspects of my career are the strategy, writing, and outreach.

What’s the biggest challenge facing fashion/lifestyle communicators right now?

The industry has changed so much in the past ten years and will continue to do so. What worked three years ago to drive visibility, sales or interest might no longer be relevant. It’s important to stay current and pay attention to the ROI on your initiatives so you can gauge what is working and what isn’t. We regularly request analytics and stats on the campaigns we create and press coverage we secure so we can see what had an immediate ROI, what drove visibility as well as what didn’t work.

How do you stay on top of industry trends?

I’m reading all the time…the skimm, glossy, digiday, wwd, business insider, fast co and the list goes on and on. I view staying current on industry and cultural news as a job responsibility.

What do you wish more people understood about PR?

I wish more people understood all the things that PR encompasses. It’s more than getting press. Right now PR involves social media, influencers, brand development and so much more.

PR is hard work, competitive and by no means easy or for party girls.

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

When I was first starting out rejection really bothered me. After 18 years, I know it’s part of the business. I spend more time talking my team through how to deal with rejection and figuring out the what and why of it than anything else. Getting “no’s” now and then are just part of the gig.

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

Network now. Stay up to date on social media and the digital revolution and become an expert. Read (fervently) anything and everything you can from the media outlets that interest you… fashion, tech, whatever it is. Pay attention to what successful brands are doing but always think about how you can recreate the wheel in a new and exciting way.

Thanks, Jessy! Learn more about LaRue PR on our directory

4 easy ways to gain PR experience (when you don’t have any)

Entry Level PR Experience Job Internship

Whether you’re looking to find an entry-level PR job or boost your resume for a coveted internship, you need experience to get started in the PR field. While it may seem like a vicious cycle (“How do I find a position that will give me experience if I don’t already have it?”) there are some easy ways that you can get more PR experience to prepare you for a communications career. See below some of my top tips on how to give yourself a leg-up in the PR industry!

1. Treat Your Personal Brand Like it’s your Job

Your most important brand is your own – use your social media including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter to create an online presence while simultaneously developing skills that will serve you in your PR career. Play around with different features of each platform – evaluate what posts and hashtags get you more engagement in the form of likes, followers and comments and integrate your findings into future posts. Engage with influencers, editors, stylists, and bloggers in an organic way on these platforms to further build credibility within the industry.

In addition to having a strong social media presence that aligns with your career goals, your own blog is a great way to further differentiate yourself while interviewing for PR jobs. You’ll learn what elements make a successful blog post/story and can use that knowledge when drafting press releases, pitches, and invites. You might even get some pitches yourself and you’ll quickly learn what is and is not eye-catching!

If committing to your own blog isn’t in the cards right now, consider submitting guest articles from your perspective to sites that focus on millenial career-building or PR blogs. Or go directly to sites that explore topics that you’re interested in, like eco outlets where you can write your favorite green beauty products.

Blogging and contributing online can give you a huge advantage. Writing for the web and getting your name out there is another way to practice skills you’ll need for your PR job.

2. Think of job descriptions as secret codes for skill-building

Start reading job descriptions for entry-level PR jobs to figure out exactly what software and skills are needed. While many junior positions call for administrative work such as research, media list creation/updating, and maintaining lists of sample pulls, qualifications such as strong writing skills, social media management, even photography or project management can all be easily added to your resume in the form of professional development courses, volunteer work or simply creating samples inspired by brands you love for your portfolio.

3. Volunteer for Events You Care About

If you have a cause that you’re truly passionate about in your area, reach out to see if they need assistance with promoting any upcoming fundraisers or helping to plan events. Most charities will have someone on staff overseeing outreach but can always use extra hands to pitch in and help. Duties might include press release writing, sourcing vendors/sponsors for events, media list creation, and even pitching local media. Festivals and industry conferences can also give you hands-on experience and a chance to impress the very people you are hoping to work for in the near future.

4. Help local small businesses in your area

Another great way to develop PR skills and create the relationships necessary to thrive in the field is to volunteer your services to local or small businesses that you love. Think of it a bit like pitching yourself as a freelance publicist – for free!

Look into emerging brands or boutiques that may not have PR representation and offer your services pro-bono. Explain that you are just breaking into the field but want to develop your skill set while simultaneously helping to promote them to the greater community. Then get to work developing a PR plan, a client reporting template and basic media list to get things going.

Putting just a few of these practices into motion will make you infinitely more interesting to potential hiring managers, while giving you a chance to figure out what aspects of PR you like best.

gem-blush-02Bonus Idea! Boost your PR skills, develop your personal brand and get access to hard-to-find job and internship opportunities when you join PRISM, the PR Couture PR Girl prep course!

Freelancers: Is it Time to Open Your Own PR Agency?

PR Agency Freelance Start

The end of the year is a natural time to take a look back and start planning for the future. If one of the questions on your mind is the potential expansion of your solo PR empire, you’re likely considering the evolution from independent contractor to CEO.

The initial decision to start a freelance PR career is often done to avoid agency structure, pace and working for someone else. However, perhaps starting a company on your terms is the way to go. While it’s often easy to identify next steps for clients, applying the same rigor to your own career is an entirely different story. As you muddle through adjustments to your own business model for next year, consider the following factors before moving ahead.

What’s your end game?

Has the vision from the very beginning been to embrace the freedom of freelance life or have you simply been taking work as it comes? A bit of introspection is called for to determine what work environment will make you happiest. Are you comfortable working from home with 3 or 4 clients or do you find yourself limited by your own skill-set and craving the ability to go head to head with bigger, full-service agencies? Are you motivated by the idea that employees will rely on healthy profits for their salary and benefits? Does the idea of supplying a team of fresh-faced publicists with an agency mission statement and shiny Macbooks put a smily on your face?  Does a hefty does of “all eyes on me”  that comes from being the leader of a company feel exciting, or does that level of growth and scrutiny feel cringe-worthy?

For me, I jumped the gun and looked for freelance work immediately after being let go from my PR job. A few months in I realized I hadn’t thought about my long-term or short-term career goals. In the beginning I focused on the very real, very immediate need to cover my own expenses but once business picked up I took a step back. I realized that though I enjoy working as part of a team and my professional experiences to date revolved around a boutique PR setting, I knew that I never wanted to be in a position where I wasn’t in full control of my job again. Also, I’m an introvert and prefer to take direction, rather than give it, so I’m not interested in leading my own firm or team. Right now, operating as an independent contractor is the perfect path for me.

What is Your Leadership Style?

There is a big difference between inner and outer-directed leadership. Being a solo-preneur doesn’t mean you don’t run things of course – you’re responsibly for getting clients, keeping them happy as well as your own personal brand, website, accounting, billing, invoicing, and taxes, etc. Yet as much as that is, it’s to a scale of one.

One of the biggest changes you’ll face as CEO is the need to consistently and confidently lead employees, clients and partners. Consider what kind of a leader you want to be and how comfortable you are with being responsible for holding a company vision, inspiring your team and handling your own stress as the person in charge. Remember that management and leadership are two different things.

While I like to be involved in every aspect of the projects I work on, as well as the day-to-day operations, I’m more of a worker bee than a queen bee. I’m perfectly capable of giving orders here and there, but I don’t enjoy overseeing things as much as I enjoy actually doing them. Eventually as CEO your job running a PR agency becomes less about the client work and more about the business – is this a role you can see yourself taking on?

What Kind of Lifestyle are you looking for?

Do you like the flexibility of being able to get your work done whether it’s 8am or 8pm? Or do you work best with clear set office hours? Do you enjoy the option of working from anywhere that you can get a Wi-Fi connection, or do you prefer your chair, in your office with your artwork hanging on the walls?

The first few years, okay, decade of your agency’s life is going to be hardcore hustle – and that means business takes priority. After all, it’s hard to start and nourish a PR team, grow a reputation and be on-site and on call for clients if you’re pursuing a location-independent professional life and, if having children or making a relationship a priority is important to you, consider that many agency owners feel as though their agency is their child;  a toddler and brand new agency is a lot to juggle at once.

PS: You Can Always Change Your Mind

Whatever you choose to do with your business in the next year, it can be helpful to remember that whether you own an agency or not, you own the right to change your mind. Of course, a PR agency does require a bit more skin in the game, but there are small steps you can take to move toward that eventuality, while lowering your risk. Perhaps you choose to turn your sole-proprietorship into an LLC or S Corp, or hiring one contractor yourself next year, or bring on multiple interns to test our your management preferences and fine-tune your hiring style.

Freelancing can act as a stepping stone toward developing the PR firm of your dreams, a temporary season in between PR positions or the goal in and of itself. The great thing about all your career options is that ultimately you are in control of your destiny.




Fake News Sites, New Balance in Crisis & Everlane’s Latest Campaign

Fashion PR Fridays: Top Fashion, Public Relations, Marketing and Social Media News

…for the week of November 14, 2016

  • Snapchat files for one of the biggest tech IPOs in years since Facebook (via Reuters)

  • LVMH in discussions to acquire Michael Kors (via The Fashion Law)
  • Facebook bans fake news sites from advertising just hours after Google does the same (via Vice)
  • Talk about a PR Crisis. New Balance moves on to damage control (via Digiday)

  • MARKS & SPENCER to close 30 of its UK clothing and homewares stores and all of its international stores (via Vogue UK)

  • The sustainability-focused H&M 2017 Awards announces that Richard Quinn is the winner of their Design Award (via EPR Retail News)


How to Establish a New Client Onboarding Process

PR Client PR Agency Welcome New Client

The onboarding process for a new client can set the tone for the entire working relationship. Starting off on the right foot is crucial in order to set realistic expectations, standards on how to communicate and to build goodwill. It’s smart to have a standard, replicable process that ensures new clients receive a high-touch, seamless transition from prospective client to on the roster. Here are three components of a successful client onboarding process

Start with an Internal Team Meeting

Before having the kick-off meeting with the client, schedule a meeting in-house with all team members that will be involved with the account. This is the time for your team to take a closer look at the background of the client. Discuss what needs to be accomplished. Brainstorm how you will approach the account, immediate priorities and effective tactics. From this meeting, your team should next develop an in-depth PR plan. This document outlines goals, strategies and timeline, and will be presented at the kickoff meeting.

Host a memorable kickoff meeting

A common first step for successfully onboarding a new client is to schedule and plan a kick-off meeting. You can develop a meeting agenda for all new clients that combines all your lessons learned into important talking points. This is the first opportunity for the client to see your work so you want to be able to impress them with your team’s preparation and presentation. During this meeting, it’s important to set clear expectations, goals and immediate next steps. Make sure to allow time to ensure that your team has everything they need to start pitching, including brand materials, photography and samples. 

Set up a weekly call

No matter how clearly you lay out the timeline and discuss what can be expected out of the first few months of the relationship, clients are often nervous and full of questions. Knowing this, you can avoid multiple daily calls asking for any updates by proactively updating your client often in the early days. A weekly call is a good way to ensure they are hearing updates from you often (but not so often that the client communication keeps you from your work!). Explain that this weekly call is to inform them of any news from the previous week, as well as the plan for the upcoming week. As the relationship continues over time, trust will build, and it will become clear that you will provide them with any timely updates as they happen. Always assure your client that you will not leave them with the feeling they don’t know what’s going on with their account.

Your onboarding process should ensure all team members involved with a new account are on the same page, fully prepared for the kick-off meeting with the client, and ready to begin a weekly call. Creating a strong foundation from the start will guarantee that your team won’t need to go back and execute these steps later on, leading to successful PR campaigns from the start.

PR Girls We Love: Ethel Da Costa, Think Geek Media

Ethel Da Costa is the Founder and CEO of the award-winning Media, PR, Fashion & Lifestyle Content company, Think Geek Media. With more than two-decades of experience as both a journalist and forward-thinking Mediapreneur, Ethel creates media stories and manages PR events and celebrities across a variety of verticals.

A single mother, published author-poet (Eve’s Revenge: Stories of Nemesis 2008) and winner of the Goa Women of the Decade Achievers Award 2015, Women Economic Forum 2015, New Delhi, Ethel Da Costa continues to straddle the best of the East and the West, making her truly a feisty global professional with a perspective that defines her experiences, wisdom, inspiration and personal aspirations.

Ethel Da Costa
Title: Managing Director, Founder-CEO
Education: Goa University, Masters in Economics
Location: Goa, Mumbai, India and the UAE
Company: Think Geek Media
@etheldacosta @thinkgeekmedia
 @dacostaethel @thinkgeekmedia

How did you get started in the industry?

My career as a Journalist started in 1992 with a local newspaper in Goa called the Gomantak Times/Weekender. Then I moved to the OHerald, The Times of India, Femina, Tarun Bharat, The International Film Festival of India, Radio Mirchi 98.3FM. Over 24 years, I’ve created and re-invented myself constantly, learning and unlearning, then learning more about media. I’ve traveled around the world covering stories on fashion, lifestyle and travel, meeting all kinds of celebrities and locals, watching, assimilating, absorbing like a sponge all the time.

During this period, I founded Think Geek Media. My first event was creating the Daniel Pearl Peace Concert (2003). Inspired by its huge success, I created community-centric fashion and art events and festivals (The Grape Escape for Goa Tourism, Govt of Goa, Celebrate Panjim, Down-to- Earth Jazz Festival, Fashion Fridays Club Night Series).

So really, my first job was creating Intellectual Properties for Think Geek Media, executed in public spaces and gardens of my city.

In January 2015,  I launched Think Geek Media into the public domain, driven by the vision to become a niche 360 degree content and media solution company. My vision is to give the company and our clients opportunities to localise, nationalise or reach international markets through the networks and collaborators we bring to the table.

How have you built your business?

I network aggressively, I make cold calls, I meet people, I just pick up the phone and introduce myself and my work, and there’s always Linkedin and Facebook. I seek opportunities to collaborate, to explore new markets and find new creators. Right now I’m working on 5 different projects, while simultaneously making time to write my freelance articles and create content for my own social media handles. Next to Content, EXECUTION is King. It speaks for itself.

What are your responsibilities?

As CEO, first and foremost ensuring we are generating revenue, producing quality work and setting the goals and vision. I make sure there is effective time management, where our team maximises output in relationship to effort/time spent.

In addition, I oversee detail. I’m a detail freak. Some of that is anticipating what problems might happen, and preventing them from happening in the first place. Keep ears to the ground, eyes on the ball.

I work with clients each financial quarter with plans and customised budgets. Clients often need to be educated on the principle of effective, authentic, sustained communication that goes into long term brand building. Some understand, but some just don’t.

What is your approach to signing new clients??

First I ask the client to lay down his/her vision. I listen to what they say and pay attention to body language. The shop talk lets me know where he/she comes from. Once I understand these fundamentals, I cut to the chase in an open, honest and to the point discussion. Time is money.

Powerful communication comes from conviction, ownership and ambition. I’m not shy to say NO to what doesn’t feel right by instinct. I tell my clients that it’s better I tell you straight. I’m inspired by driven people who want to make something out of their lives, whose personal goals, vision and drive stand for something. I look for clients who are driven by their beliefs and a strong value system.

What are you working on right now?

Right now I am managing fashion portfolios, bespoke eco-luxe real estate and hospitality brands, a forthcoming a music and art festival, and a wedding blog assignment.

Next to Content, EXECUTION is King. It speaks for itself.

What are some of your career highlights?

A humble, small fashion client with big dreams who I launched with a grand PR buzz in Dubai. The second is a true eco soldier at heart, a  nature conservation builder in India, now now hailed as a trend setter in real estate design. Very different businesses, but with each I helped to develop engaging stories that really helped with growth.

I’m inspired by driven people who want to make something out of their lives, whose personal goals, vision and drive stand for something.

Launching Forest Essentials in Goa with a celebrity soiree, creating and managing media for my favourite designers, Wendell Rodricks and Malini Ramani’s fashion show. Launching Oman Air, winning the Woman of the Decade Achievers Award and being featured in Paris’ CLAM Magazine for my creative entrepreneurship in media. This moment on PR Couture is another one – it feels good to know my hard work is worth it.

What is the media landscape like right now in India – what should we know about?

India boasts a vibrant media landscape. There are so many publishing houses, magazines, TV channels springing up almost every week in the verticals of lifestyle, politics, opinion, capital, fashion, and social work. Regional content is also seeing an upswing. The Start-Up boom has erupted in India making more people want to be their own boss. It is a productive, creative, buzzing environment. My personal favourites continue to be old school Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, fashion brands like FDCI (Fashion Design Council of India), digital platforms like PopXO, and colleagues who have reinvented themselves as influencers like

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

Yes, I agree. Out of ten clients, two of them will get coverage in a traditional, conservative market. Many companies want or expect this for free, or want to pay a pittance but expect your arm and leg in delivery! Fortunately I have sold radio space in a print driven market.  I just soldier up, dust myself, sharpen the battle sword a little bit more and battle on. Being consistently persistent keeps me sane, positive and moving forward. My head is full of dreams and the ability to work at them. I just don’t quit!

What do you wish more people understood about your job?

That it is bloody hard work! I work long hours, even if I make it look effortless. I want people to understant that brand value is built through consistency, respect, relationships, integrity, passion and honesty. Growth is a partnership.

What’s the biggest challenge facing communicators in India right now?

In India, there is a lot of gray area when it comes to PR. Those who are willing to work for free, or work for a free dress, do a disservice to those of us who are seasoned professionals. Most clients are caught between the noise and the freebies and they are confusted. My sincere advice to brands is that you have to sieve through the noise and the riff-raff,’ and choose your foot soldiers. I always say a client who treats his brand with respect, will seek a PR partner who shares the same values when it comes to brand-building.

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

Oh, sweetie be ready to work your ass off. It ain’t gonna come easy!

Thanks, Ethel!