Allyson has always been inspired by the people behind her favorite brands – the movers, the shakers, and the visionaries. She founded Allyson Conklin Public Relations in December 2010 to give brands a true partner, not only a publicist.
Allyson started her career in publishing in New York City, holding roles at Footwear News and W Magazine prior to making the jump to PR in-house at Shiseido Cosmetics, and then at Talisker in Park City, Utah. Shortly after returning to Colorado, she founded ACPR, a boutique public relations agency specializing in beauty, home and lifestyle brands.
Since its launch, ACPR’s clients have been featured in some of the most desirable media outlets including Vogue, well+GOOD, HGTV Magazine, MyDomaine, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29, Traditional Home and Forbes online.
When Allyson’s not plotting to take ACPR to the next level and make her clients the next household brand names, you can find her decorating (and then redecorating) her home, testing out the latest facial oil, binge-watching Law and Order: SVU, or dreaming of baking (and then eating) her way through Pinterest.
How did you know it was time to start your own thing?
Starting a business was never my intention. But after resigning from an in-house PR role and deciding to relocate back to Fort Collins, Colorado, I was approached by an interior designer with a question that would forever change the course of my career: “Have you ever considered starting your own agency?” That question was followed by: “And if so, can I be your first client?” I’ll be forever grateful for that question. The seed was planted, and within two months it blossomed into Allyson Conklin Public Relations. As they say, the rest is history.
What does your day-to-day look like?
I do all the things. On any given day, I’m a publicist, mentor, manager, IT department, HR department, interior decorator, cleaning lady, chief strategist, fixer, copywriter, accountant, cheerleader, business development director, mediator and the boss. Essentially, I do whatever is required to ensure the success of the business. And I don’t mind it one bit.
We’re a small but mighty team of three, with myself, a coordinator and an assistant. I consciously structured the company so that everyone works on every client we represent. This ensures an ultra collaborative approach, which I love (and our clients do, too)!
What is the mood like in the office? What are you currently working on?
We have an upbeat vibe in the office. While our heads are down and we’re all working hard, the energy is light. From the get-go, I’ve placed a very high value on a happy workplace. We all know that PR is consistently ranked as one of the most stressful industries to work in, so I strive to keep our environment as positive as possible.
At the moment we’re cranking out short lead holiday gift guide pitches (’tis the season!) and promoting new product launches.
What is a recent success story that makes you especially proud?
I know that this is a little untraditional, but stick with me. I consider overcoming imposter’s syndrome a big success this year. As a woman, and business owner, it’s easy to let the “stories” I tell myself (I’m not worthy, I’m not good enough, I don’t have enough experience, I don’t have enough knowledge, I simply can’t do it, etc.) dominate what’s going on in my head. Having worked directly with female founders for almost seven years now, not to mention a ton of friends who are also business owners, I know that I’m not alone. It seems that almost everyone suffers from this. But why?! Why do successful, inspirational and powerful women doubt themselves? It was reassuring to know that I’m not alone, but that didn’t really do anything to solve my problem. So this year I decided that enough was enough. I got real with myself about why I was experiencing imposter’s syndrome and identified what I needed to do to shake it. It’s a daily battle and I still encounter those “stories,” but I now have the tools to pinpoint them, call them out and move past them.
I do whatever is required to ensure the success of the business. And I don’t mind it one bit.
What is the most memorable moment in your career thus far?
There are too many to count! I feel like I encounter something meaningful every. single. day. Particularly in the little moments. It’s opening the door to the office in the morning (though in full disclosure I’m usually the last in). It’s watching my employees grow, thrive and soar. It’s helping a client create exposure for their brand in a way they never thought was possible. It’s being able to decide to go home early to spend time with my family because I can. It’s catching up with a former intern that’s killing it in their career. It’s having brands reach out organically about partnering because of our reputation and results. It’s recognizing that the relationships I’ve cultivated for over a decade are why I am still doing this today.
Ultimately though, it all started by choosing to forgo fear and go out on my own almost seven years ago, and never looking back.
What is the most glamorous moment in your career thus far?
I don’t know if there’s a glamorous moment per se. There are too many “PR is glamorous” stereotypes out there that paint an unrealistic picture of the industry, so I’ll give you a real life answer.
Reading cover letters from applicants who were interested in joining my team this fall was pretty amazing. ACPR experienced a growth spurt last summer and I was able to add a second full time employee to my team, which was a goal for the year. We had countless talented applicants apply and so many of them said such kind things about ACPR and me. It left me feeling proud of this business that I’ve built, and not gonna lie, a bit teary at times!
What is the least glamorous moment in your career thus far?
I was leaving the Meredith Corporation building in New York City after an amazing deskside. As with most deskside trips, I was schlepping a large (and insanely heavy!) tote of products. I exited the building, flung the bag over my shoulder, then proceeded to hail a cab. As a taxi pulled up, I started noticing the stares. It was then that I realized that my dress had inadvertently gotten caught in my bag and I was currently exposing my backside to everyone on the sidewalk. Let’s just say it was a moment to remember.
I got real with myself about why I was experiencing imposter’s syndrome and identified what I needed to do to shake it.
PR can be stressful and full of rejection – how do you handle the pressure?
I like to say that to work in PR you need to be completely resilient and slightly stubborn. Resilient in not taking everything personally or throwing in the towel when you receive more “no’s” than “yes’s.” Stubborn in recognizing that a “no” won’t always stay a “no” in the future (and then finding a way to turn it into a “yes”). And it always helps to remind myself (and my team) that while we’re doing important work, we’re not saving lives.
What are three current favorite tools, apps or products that you love and why?
- At the risk of sounding totally old school, Microsoft Excel. I consider myself organized to a fault, and this keeps everything in check. I use it both for business and my personal life.
2. Gabrielle Bernstein’s Spirit Junkie app. I’m a big believer in the power of rituals, and I love checking the daily mantra as part of my morning routine.
3. My Day Designer (while they’re a client I can promise you that this is not a shameless plug!). I’m not sure how I survived before Day Designer. Not well; I can tell you that!
What do you wish more people understood about your job?
PR is not just tracking down contact information for media. There is SO MUCH strategy that’s involved and at the end of the day, it’s 100% relationship based. PR is a specialty and just like any other career, it takes time to gain knowledge and experience. Cultivating relationships doesn’t happen overnight!
What are you excited about right now in terms of industry trends?
The shift towards indie brands! Historically, the term “indie” has often been associated with being second rate. But as a publicist that represents largely indie brands, I’m here to tell you that it’s simply not true! I’ve found that indie brands are the movers and shakers. They’re the one starting movements, disrupting industries and forcing us to shift how we think and make decisions. Needless to say, I’m thrilled to see indie brands making their way into the spotlight.
What’s the biggest challenge facing lifestyle communicators right now?
To stand out from the crowd. There are a million and one amazing brands out there, making the marketplace ultra competitive. And it’s our job to help our clients make an impact in their respective spaces to both editors and consumers. It can be challenging, but with a solid brand, strong positioning and consistency, I believe it’s totally possible.
What advice do you have for your younger self?
Trust yourself more. In the past I’ve been guilty of letting the opinions of others carry more weight than my own. As I’ve gotten older (and wiser, I hope!), I’ve learned to trust myself more. I now recognize that the best answer is already inside of me, and while it’s perfectly acceptable to gather second opinions, ultimately I need to allow my gut (along with my head and heart) to guide me.
Photo Credit: Cassie Rosch