Publicist Q&A: Getting to Know Ali Grant, Founder of Be Social PR

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Named by San Diego Magazine as a “dynamic public relations expert,” Ali Grant is the founder of Solana Beach-based boutique PR agency Be Social PR.  Her success stems in part from running successful ecommerce publicity campaigns in technology, retail, and lifestyle for national and international brands with an emphasis on digital and blogger relations. This roster of achievements has resulted in several additional recognitions including being a finalist for the San Diego Business Journal’s “Women Who Mean Business Awards,” a nominee for San Diego Magazine’s “2014 Women of the Year” and San Diego Business Journal’s Emerging Generation: 25 in their 20s.

Most recently, Be Social PR announced the launch of their influencer management division to assist bloggers and social media personalities including Fashionlush, The Balanced Blonde and The Western Wild with managing their careers, publicity, developing brand partnerships and monetizing their blog and social platforms.

How did you get started in PR?

Sounds hilarious, but my first love for media started at just 10 years old when I landed the “position” (not sure you can even call it that) as anchor for our school broadcast. I held this position until my senior year of high school. I thought I was going to be the next Erin Andrews (ha!). After studying journalism in college, I switched from broadcast to public relations after taking my first PR class. It mixed my interest in journalism and writing with my creative and artistic side.

I had five PR internships through college, and landed my first real PR job at an eCommerce company, Shopatron. Working in their PR and market development, I was able to work with brands like Mizuno and Melissa & Doug, and attend tradeshows such as ASR, Outdoor Retailer, and Magic. The experience developed a strong understanding for eCommerce, digital marketing, and developing and nurturing media relationships.

Fresh out of college, I was spearheading my own pitching, media interviews, and was the only member of the Shopatron PR team, which acted as a catalyst for developing my own confidence in business. I did a little bit of everything (literally), giving me a multi-faceted, broad range of experience.

Fresh out of college, I was spearheading my own pitching, media interviews, and was the only member of the Shopatron PR team, which acted as a catalyst for developing my own confidence in business.

 

Bottom line, I highly suggest interning through college! It will pay off and is the best way to gain confidence, experience and connections.

What’s the mood in the office right now? What are you working on?

Our agency is fun, vibrant, colorful and creative. We’re constantly sharing ideas and campaigns; it’s very much a collaborative environment where everyone’s creative opinion is key and utilized. We love what we do and have fun together, but our team is focused, professional and passionate…making for a positive and effective work environment.

We love what we do and have fun together, but our team is focused, professional and passionate…making for a positive and effective work environment.

Our office space is in the design district of Solana Beach, a quaint beach town. We’re just a street over from the ocean in the hub for lifestyle and action sports community…you can feel the creative energy!

This week, we’re working on an opening for prAna’s Encinitas brick and mortar, preparing Bzees for the Outdoor Retailer tradeshow, and for a few of our swimwear clients we’re gearing up for Swim Collective. Every day is different, making our jobs invigorating! We all thrive in this type of atmosphere.

PRAna2
Client prAna

 

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

Email and iPhone! Most everything we do is either via email or a call or text. We utilize a lot of software that tracks our success for client reporting, such as CrowdBabble and Cision monitoring. And recently, Instagram has been a key tool for our influencer and blogger relations.

What makes an ideal client for your agency?

We stay true to our commitment and partner with brands that inspire us. A brand looking to take traditional PR approaches and give them a makeover by integrating the new and now – including a strong focus on blogger relations, online influencers, and digital initiatives, is an ideal client for Be Social.

PRAna1
Client prAna

 

What’s a recent success story you’re proud of?

Our team has been an integral part of the launch of Cate McNabb Cosmetics, a project that has been very multi-faceted. Our agency has successfully secured top tier earned media placements in outlets like Lucky, Huffington Post, Life&Style, Yahoo!, LaurenConrad.com, alongside some of the greatest names in beauty. This project has further solidified our ability to spread awareness for our clients even in a very crowded, competitive landscape.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned since you started working in PR?

Having a general interest in what your media contacts are writing about, and why. It helps to develop relationships and craft your pitches accordingly. Also, to always check your email…because journalists expect a quick response and you better deliver or you can easily lose an opportunity.

How do you get the word out about your agency?

Most of our client base comes through referrals, which is such an honor. I can’t stand (most) networking events, so typically we market our agency digitally. Our entire team is very active on social media, through our agency accounts and our team members’ accounts.

Elle Mer Swim
Client Elle Mer Swim

 

What excites you about PR these days?

Landing a great placement. I think that will always be the most exciting part of PR — we can probably all agree on that one! I’m always an integral part of our proposal creation, which gets me amped because I love brainstorming and getting creative with my team.

Landing a great placement. I think that will always be the most exciting part of PR — we can probably all agree on that one!

After years working with brands, what made you open your service area to personalities?

Our firm is consistently matching influencers to promote our clients and we continue to see the growing impact on these collaborations for brands. During our time sourcing these relationships and connecting influencers with brands, we saw a gap in the market…developing the spark to launch our boutique-style influencer division.

What are a few of the current industry trends you’re seeing when it comes to influencer/brand partnerships? How do you help everyone to navigate these new territories?

We’ve seen a lot of brands utilize bloggers and Instagram elite as brand ambassadors. Brands are utilizing these influencers and their loyal followers as an effective platform to easily promote a product, launch, or event.

Our agency has developed a long list of bloggers and Instagram stars…and these are women and men that we are working with on a daily basis, so we have been able to build a strong relationship. Using these relationships, we’re able to get our clients in the front of today’s celebrity…the digital darlings. Our connections certainly help since we’re seeing these influencers getting inundated with brand requests as brands are adapting and understanding their reach and following.

We’ve seen a lot of brands utilize bloggers and Instagram elite as brand ambassadors. Brands are utilizing these influencers and their loyal followers as an effective platform to easily promote a product, launch, or event.

Are there still purely editorial opportunities available to brands wanting to work with influential bloggers?

We’re certainly in an era that bloggers and influencers understand the value of their reach, so of course, they’re going to monetize their platforms. The influencers we work with get numerous PR pitches a day, many of them are ignored, but if they receive something that fits with their natural, organic interests…they will absolutely feature the product. It just might take a while…because there’s a lot they want to share with their readers. Think about…their readers and followers are loyal to their blog because they see them as trusted cool…if content is made up of just paid features, they’re going to lose that credibility.

If you’re in PR and you’re trying to work with a larger blogger, I’d suggest the following:

  • Make sure you know the types of ongoing articles they consistently write…i.e. The Skinny Confidential always writes a weekly column called ‘Mini Delites’ where she features some of her favorite things from the week.
  • Engage them through social media, especially Instagram and Twitter. These influencers are the stars of digital…get them to notice you where they are active most!
  • Make sure your product relates to their natural interests and build a relationship of consistently providing information they can’t find anywhere else.

Be sure to follow Be Social PR on Instagram for an inspirational (and often beachy!) look at this powerhouse West Coast PR agency – and check out their careers page.

Crosby Noricks

Crosby Noricks

Known as the “fashion publicist’s most powerful accessory,” (San Diego Union-Tribune) and the “West Coast ‘It’ girl of fashion PR,” (YFS Magazine) Crosby Noricks put fashion public relations on the digital map when she launched PR Couture in 2006. She is the author of Ready to Launch: The PR Couture Guide to Breaking into Fashion PR, available on Amazon. A decade later, Crosby is a successful fashion marketing strategist who spends her time championing PR Couture's growth and mentoring fashion publicists through her signature online course PRISM. Learn more about opportunities to work directly with Crosby at her website crosbynoricks.com

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