Set the right expectations with clients. Every client wants to be featured in Forbes or the NY Times, and it only happens for very few. Even when it does, it rarely gets the results they’re looking for. By focusing on client education and setting the right expectations upfront, you can eliminate many potential issues.
As a part of my series about the things you need to know to excel in the modern PR industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Blair Nicole is the CEO and Founder of Media Moguls PR, a 10-year-old PR agency that specializes in Whitelabel Public Relations services. Blair is also a member of the Forbes Agency Council, a freelance columnist at Business.com, and host of the #KickassPR Podcast. She has trained over 1,200 PR freelancers around the globe, and her agency has become the secret weapon behind over 100 other marketing and PR agencies.
Thank you so much for your time Blair! I know that you are a very busy person. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I got involved in Public Relations completely by accident; my degree is in Psychology and my background is in finance. After I quit my job as a stockbroker, I partnered with a friend who had started a consulting firm. That partnership ran it’s course, and I decided to set out on my own. Shortly after starting my own agency, clients began to ask if I could handle their PR campaigns. I realized there was a huge need in the market, so I set out to educate myself on all things PR and media relations. There was certainly some trial and error, but within about 18 months I went from self-taught PR pro, to a full-fledged agency with clients lining up to work with us.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
The most interesting thing that’s happened to me since starting my agency was the opportunity to be a digital nomad for almost two years. Because my agency is run 100% remote, I can work from anywhere in the world. From 2015–2016 I took the opportunity to travel with my young son, while scaling the agency, and my travel story was actually covered in the Huffington Post. I visited 4 countries, dozens of states, and checked things off my bucket list like skydiving (twice), hang gliding, and reveling in Times Square on New Years Eve (also, twice).
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
During one of my very first PR campaigns for a client, I made the mistake of mass pitching a couple of dozen mom bloggers. Not only did I mass pitch them, but I forgot to BCC them, and everyone could see that it was a mass pitch. I got so many scathing responses; it was a mistake I’ll never forget. The silver lining was that I learned the detriment to mass pitching early on, and now I’m a huge advocate of NEVER mass pitching the media, and instead focusing on smaller, targeted pitches.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
The most exciting thing I’m doing now is working with other agencies. My agency has become the go-to whitelabel PR agency for over 100 other marketing, web design and PR agencies around the globe. When those agencies can’t get the results they’re looking for, or when they don’t have the staff to fulfill a client’s PR request, they come to us.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
1) Never mass pitch the media
2) Don’t pitch the client’s product or service. Instead focus on pitching a trending issue, or pitch the client/brand as an expert, and you’ll get a much better response.
3) Set the right expectations with clients. Every client wants to be featured in Forbes or the NY Times, and it only happens for very few. Even when it does, it rarely gets the results they’re looking for. By focusing on client education and setting the right expectations upfront, you can eliminate many potential issues.
4) Choose a niche. For the first few years, I was in business my target market was everyone, and it was really hard to attract clients. Once we drilled down our target audiences (which is agencies), we were able to better market to them, and our incoming leads have increased by over 1000% (literally).
5) Focus on real relationships and stop looking for shortcuts. Despite PR being a largely digital industry now, the real power in PR still comes from relationships with editors, reporters, and clients. The best PR agencies realize the importance of building rapport, and don’t rely too heavily on taking shortcuts.
You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?
Ditch the business cards; most people will throw them away, and never call or email anyway. Focus on getting to know other people at networking events (rather than pitching yourself), and you’ll get so much further. When you approach other business people as people, instead of as a dollar sign, you’ll be able to forge relationships that will keep you in business. Figure out how you can help the people you meet, and you’ll find people who want to help you too. When you meet someone you want to get to know, followup with them.
Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?
We have hundreds of referral partners, which has been by far our biggest source of business and client referrals. But these referral partners took years to cultivate.
Linkedin is a great tool for thought leadership and lead generation; it’s also a great way to meet potential referral partners. We’ve used a combination of Linkedin sales navigator emails + thought leadership to set appointments and generate new leads.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
Ryan Holiday, Trust Me I’m Lying is an interesting PR book that changed the way I look at PR. The reality is that the rise of digital PR has made it easier for people to get ahead using unscrupulous PR tactics. After reading the book, it inspired me to double down on my efforts to practice PR in an ethical way, and focus on longevity and staying power, rather than a quick win for myself or for clients.
Because of the role you play, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
One of my sole reasons for starting a PR business was to help people. I’m a firm believer that business for good is good for business, and that if your whole purpose in business is to make money, then it’s pointless. My hope would be to inspire people to do good in the world, whatever that means to them.
I also want to inspire people to travel more, and spend more time experiencing everything life has to offer. Travel and adventure is my other passion.
This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.