I had the pleasure of interviewing Kate Morgan, hailing originally from the UK, is the Founder and Principal of Morgan Publicity. Morgan Publicity is Head Quartered in LA, with outposts in NYC and London.
Morgan Publicity has become lovingly dubbed by industry peers as the #PRFirmWithSoul, Kate is frequently being interviewed on ‘Best PR Practices’, press highlights include profile pieces on SWAAY, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Byrdie, Beauty Independent and more.
Morgan Publicity represents companies and experts in the beauty, health and wellness space — from start-ups through to legacy brands.
Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I started my media career on the other side of the fence: journalism. I love the written word and the joy of storytelling. My sister — an editor at the Guardian at the time, and now a top-selling author — quizzed me on my career choice: ‘you know, you’d make an excellent PR, why not try it?” I ‘tried it’ over a decade ago and here I am, living the other side of the world running a successful PR practice, with amazing brands on our roster. If this is work, this is winning.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
Here’s an interesting moment, the very start: Morgan Publicity is honestly the accidental PR Firm. I had become increasingly unhappy at my job, and it got to the point that for the sake of my physical and mental health, it was time to leave. I wanted just a few freelance clients to pay my bills, and give me breathing space. But once I got going, it steamrolled organically. That moment of surrendering to the momentum and enjoying the ride proved to be the right one.
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?
Mistakes are essential, they’re growth and it is an opportunity for learning and development. I think my first (now funny — not then!) mistake was starting the business from my ex-boyfriend’s laptop, because when you break up suddenly and your life is on there… that’s a problem! Not a mistake, but learning: have your own set up from the go when in start-up mode, because you have to be prepared for everything!
How did you scale your business to profitability? How long did it take? Please share the steps you took.
This has been learning on the job process. At first, I truly undersold myself with my rate — but the flip side to that is you need to build your case studies so people want to work with you. Evidence of your ability is crucial. Slow and steady wins the race!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Our client Dr. Pimple Popper is truly having a moment, and we’ve been working together since the infancy stages of her brand. Congratulations to Dr. Sandra Lee (aka Dr. Pimple Popper!) on her award-winning (thanks to MP!) skincare line, her TV show with TLC and her Book! What a bad-ass! Jennifer Yen, a former power ranger turned beauty expert just launched a skincare line… another one! Jennifer is such a hustler and pillar of strength, I admire her a great deal. Peace Out Skincare are enjoying repeated sell-out status at Sephora (HIGH FIVE), January Labs have just joined our family (excited to have you!), Ole Henriksen Spa and its owner Vance Soto are killing the game this Awards Season, WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo is NUMBER 1 on Amazon… I could go on and on, but the exciting projects boil down to keeping our brands consistently relevant and successful.
Based on your personal experience, what advice would you give to young people considering a career in PR?
Remember: you’re for the service, the service isn’t working for you. Don’t go into this career thinking it’s all fancy parties and fluffy work. You’re in for a cold, hard shock otherwise! A PR wears many hats: marketing, branding, strategy, therapist (< true!) — you carry the weight of your client’s success (or failures, if you’re a sloppy PR) on your shoulders. It is hard graft, but the job is rewarding. Even a decade and some change later, seeing a brand you represent garner a top tier media hit is the best high you can get.
You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?
Businesses are people, and people connect best with genuine human interaction. Break it down to basics, and for me, that’s the nuts and bolts of it. If you make a great connection, follow up. A one and done approach is lazy, and will get you no-where. Enjoyed meeting someone? Schedule a date for tea. Follow through!
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
The Four Hour Work Week is fantastic. The author takes it to the total extreme, but the principals of working smarter not harder so you can enjoy work-life balance struck a chord. You can’t pour from an empty cup. You can’t give 100% if you’re running on reserve. I suffered from burn out first hand (that Byrdie article!) which had me out of action on doctor’s order for 2 months. What. Is. The. Point. Of. That. What (and who!) did that serve? This book was a wake-up call. I also love the team at Good Morning La La Land. These guys are WOKE! If you’re not starting your day with Dr. Erin Haskhall, Rob Mack and Jezlan Moyet then do yourself a service and introduce them to your morning routine, you won’t regret it.
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?
2017 was the year I discovered that I was pregnant, it was unplanned. To experience for the first time gas lighting in its truest form, repeated emotional abuse, to discover the true meaning of what dealing with a narcissist and sociopath entails, to dealing with the eventual eclipse of it all — which resulted in me becoming a single mother; that was a year for the books.
To deal with your private life testing you to your Nth degree, but having to keep your business standards steadfast, your clients serviced, and your staff happy — because none of ‘this’ is their problem, that’s tough on the spirit.
What I did learn was resilience I never knew I had in me, and it is what I want to inspire in others. And that comes from honest conversation on the topic of unplanned pregnancies — the circumstances that can prevail from that — and how to equip yourself spiritually, and financially — to handle it all. To know that there are options, devoid of judgment, available to you. Here I am: raising my son solo, and spearheading one of the fastest growing communications firms in my field. If I can do it, you can too!
I want to inspire a movement of a community for solo parent entrepreneurs, especially those that have suffered some form of domestic abuse — which is defined as behavior that is intended to control another by making that person feel intimidated, frightened, terrorized or humiliated. It doesn’t mean the common misconception of striking an intimate partner. If this is you, drop me a line — because you need to know you have support, and love, and guidance — and those things can come from the most unexpected places. Right now thanks to Thrive, I have a voice. If yours feel silenced, I want to help you speak up. That is PR to me: Public Relating. Doing good with your work, and with your actions.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
Wine is your friend
Wine is now your best friend
Humor is essential
It is PR, not ER
Breathe and take a step back before replying to emails that might irk you. Knee-jerk reactions are a no-no.
Can I have one more? Be nice to people on your way up… they’re the same people you’ll see on your way down if you send too many knee-jerk reaction emails ; )