Invest in a coach. I’ve worked with three business coaches over the course of my career, and each one brought unique expertise that’s helped me grow personally and professionally. I worked with successful solopreneur Stacy Ennis for the first three months after launching Full Swing, and I believe she saved me at least a year or two of time.
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 Caitlin Copple Masingill. She is the founder and president of Full Swing Public Relations, where she helps women leaders shape and share their stories. Caitlin brings more than a decade of strategic communications experience, helping clients leverage the news media to meet their business goals and elevating brands through publications like Inc.com, Marketplace, and Thrive Global. Her past and current clients include the Human Rights Campaign, LunchboxWax, MyVillage, and Armoire. In 2019, Caitlin was named among the Idaho Business Review’s Accomplished Under 40. Caitlin holds an M.A. in journalism from the University of Montana and served on the Missoula City Council from 2012–2105. She operates her location independent business mostly from Boise, Idaho.
Thank you so much for your time! 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’m entrepreneurial by nature. As a child, I would assemble the neighborhood kids and perform plays. We’d go door-to-door and charge the neighbors a quarter to watch.
At each job I’ve held as an adult, I always felt like I hit a limit in terms of professional growth, responsibility, or salary. I don’t like limits. I’m passionate about women-owned businesses, so I decided to become the woman who owns the damn business and launched Full Swing Public Relations in February 2019. Just like there’s never really a good time to have a baby or make a major life change, there’s never really a perfect time to strike out on your own. You can always talk yourself out of it, but you shouldn’t. A healthy amount of risk makes for an invigorating life and career, I think.
I come from a golfing family, so my business name reflects that. Just like golf, without a full swing, you can’t make a full impact. The name “Full Swing” reflects my decision to make the most impact I can with the skills I’ve developed over my career so far.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
I helped my client and Cheekys founder Jessi Roberts launch her first book, a hybrid small business how-to and memoir, Backroads Boss Lady. Through that project, I learned a lot about the massive online boutique industry and some of the unique challenges that face rural businesses. One of the highlights was accompanying Jessi to an interview with Kai Ryssdal, the public radio icon and host of Marketplace.
More recently, I led communications during the runoff election for Boise Mayor. My candidate, Lauren McLean, was elected Dec. 3 as the female mayor, winning more than 65% of the vote. The election drew attention from the likes of the New York Times. I’m very proud of Mayor-Elect McLean’s historic and classy victory after a long, tough marathon of a campaign.
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?
I have definitely pressed send too soon on emails before, which can be embarrassing. It is a good reminder not to populate the “to” field until you are ready to send it.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
As the mother of a 3-year-old, the struggle to find affordable, high-quality child care remains very top of mind. I am fortunate to work with MyVillage, a mom-founded home-based child care startup that is transforming early childhood education and was recently featured on Marketplace. With about 90 programs open or soon to open across Montana and Colorado, MyVillage provides more young children with exceptional care through a model that also enables home-based educators, who are almost always women, to earn more money.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
1 — Starting a business might not actually be as hard as everyone says. I work really hard, often six days a week, but I’ve always worked hard at every job I’ve ever had. When I launched Full Swing, I fully anticipated I’d be taking a pay cut from my salaried agency job. Instead, I earned my previous salary in less than five months. Could I have done been this successful if I’d started a company when I was 27? Maybe not, but at age 36, it feels like I’ve prepared my whole life for this moment. Maybe that’s why I’ve been successful sooner than I anticipated.
2 — Invest in a coach. I’ve worked with three business coaches over the course of my career, and each one brought unique expertise that’s helped me grow personally and professionally. I worked with successful solopreneur Stacy Ennis for the first three months after launching Full Swing, and I believe she saved me at least a year or two of time.
3 — Your network is everything. Even though I’ve only been in business for six months, I’ve been creating my network of clients, partners, and subcontractors for at least ten years. CNN commentator Aisha Moodie-Mills, who used to run a fabulous organization I’m involved with called the Victory Fund, used to say: “Your network is your net worth.” She’s 100% right.
4 — The riches are in the niches. Get really clear on who you want to work with and why. The most successful solopreneurs and boutique agencies I’ve come across tend to be highly targeted.
5 — Guide your clients to support how you like to work. Travel is something my family and I value, and my clients know that I am not always available in person. One client nicknamed me “Mrs. 5 am” because I like to get a very early start on my work day. Then I don’t have to rush my son off to childcare at 8:30, because I’ve already done my morning tasks and put out any fires that emerged overnight. My clients also know I’m not generally online 4:30–8 pm, because that’s family time, so if it’s urgent, they should call or text, not email or Slack me.
You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?
If you don’t have the group you want in your community, create it. In February 2018, a friend and I launched Boise Women Who Get Sh*t Done. It’s grown from about 20 women to a list that’s over 200! We meet monthly and invite expert guests to lead workshops on everything from navigating imposter syndrome to pathways to entrepreneurship. I’ve made some wonderful friends from the group, and it also happens to be great for my business, which was not at all my motivation for starting it. We’ll be presenting on “how to create the community you seek” at Alt Summit 2020 in Palm Springs this March.
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?
Even when you are busy with client work, make time to do your own content marketing and social media, or figure out how to outsource it. You wouldn’t want to hire a financial advisor who was in debt, would you? So don’t hire a publicist who doesn’t slay their own PR!
Regularly attend conferences and networking events to build in-person relationships that may turn into client relationships later. I’m always growing my email list by making face to face connections and then capturing email addresses. This is an old school approach but one that makes a much stronger list, even if it’s smaller than some. I leverage other people’s success on my own channels to reinforce my brand as one that authentically cheers other women on. I also write guest blog posts, do interviews and podcasts, and respond to HARO queries to make sure I’m putting myself out there regularly.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
I’m inspired by female entrepreneurs like Ambika Singh (CEO and co-founder of Armoire), Erica Mackey (co-founder of MyVillage), and Jessi Roberts (founder and CEO of Cheekys). All three provided great inspiration to me in launching and growing Full Swing. I recently read Multipliers by Liz Wiseman, a recommendation from Erica, and I’m a huge fan of the podcast, Dolly Parton’s America.
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. 🙂
Elect more women and LGBTQ people to public office.
This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.