Never Wait for The Right Opportunity: There will never be a perfect time to reach out to brands for endorsements, pitch a client, or contacting a news outlet. YOU need to create those opportunities and moments. Use Google-like it’s your PR bible as a tool to help you find clues on how to position yourself to pitch your clients, editors, or brands and then it’s all about taking action.
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 Connie Chi.
Connie is the founder of The Chi Group, award-winning brand management, marketing, and PR agency, author of Branding Without A Brand, producer of The Social Movement Docuseries, host of Humanizing Brands Podcast, and speaker.
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 grew up around businesses all my life, most of my family members are entrepreneurs. After working in corporate for 16+ years I realized I was unhappy and that’s when I ventured out to start my own business. As an entrepreneur and publicist, it’s always about trying out an idea and if it doesn’t work change it. Then try again till you succeed. My journey as a publicist continues to morph, I’ve always loved connecting the dots so I took a chance and delved into PR and brand management.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
There was a moment in time where I was building a business and was struggling to keep the business afloat. So I decided I was going to apply for a part-time job. All companies require a resume for hiring so on my resume I needed to account for 4 years of no job so I put “entrepreneur.” As you can imagine, after sending out 30+ resumes to companies no one called me back. I took it as a sign that I needed to stay in my entrepreneur lane.
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?
This one we can all relate to, sending an email to the wrong person. I’ve done this countless times and here’s the thing once you hit send it’s into the digital postal service. I used to really beat myself up but I learned a few things from this, Gmail has an undo button if you catch it in time, people will eventually forget about your email but it’s also free advertising for your company, and beating yourself up doesn’t retract the email. These days, I just let it go, if the person responds back to me then I have an opportunity to start a dialogue and maybe see how we can partner together through our businesses.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I get to work on a lot of fun and exciting new projects. Most recently our agency partnered up with Sergio Delavicci, actor in John Wick 3 and we are named his official PR agency and brand management agency of record working on unique global campaigns and brand partnerships with Sergio’s brand. We’re also working alongside EBK Global event productions with HUGE televised sporting events, Superbowl parties, and NASCAR.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
1. Don’t Let Anyone Kill Your Dreams: If you want something bad enough, go get it. You don’t need anyone’s permission to dream big. It was because I wasn’t afraid to dream big that I had the chance to personally meet and speak to Richard Branson, Deepak Chopra, Daymond John, Marianne Williamson, and many more influential thought leaders.
2. Being Creative is a MUST in PR: As a publicist, you have to get creative about how you spin a story, approach editors, and pitch your clients. Make sure you’re doing research to connect the dots and why something will be relevant to all parties.
3. Never Wait for The Right Opportunity: There will never be a perfect time to reach out to brands for endorsements, pitch a client, or contacting a news outlet. YOU need to create those opportunities and moments. Use Google-like it’s your PR bible as a tool to help you find clues on how to position yourself to pitch your clients, editors, or brands and then it’s all about taking action.
4. Don’t Let The “Gram (Instagram) Fool You: A lot of time people will take to Insta and see that someone else is posting all the glitz and glam of being a publicist. But don’t let that fool you because you really don’t know what’s happening behind the Instagram curtain. Comparing yourself to a fabricated social media standard of approval is not going to help you or your clients to gain results.
5. Be Strategic With Your Partnerships: Yes, we all start from zero but once you gain your publicist “sea legs” make sure you’re stringently selective about your partnerships and that includes clients you work with. You want to pick partnerships that will help grow your business and provide credibility to what you’re doing. Never lower your standards just to get a client or a partnership.
You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?
As a publicist networking is a must. It’s very easy to hide behind emails but in this business, it’s all about building relationships. I can’t stress enough the importance of networking with a mission. Meaning before you set foot into a room be clear on what you want to get out of each networking moment. You want to target those who are the decision-makers for brands or businesses in order to save your time and energy. Networking isn’t about making friends so make sure you’re not spending too much time talking to one person, walk the room.
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 use a combination of Google, Crunchbase, Cision, and Instagram. These have been our go-to sources when it comes to lead gen. We work mostly with brands and high-level individuals so it requires a lot of research and being in the know about what’s happening with brands. Google and Cision will let you know what’s new with brands and who you can contact. Crunchbase will let you know which companies recently got funding and Instagram is a quick easy way to let the world in on projects you’re launching, working on, or simply to showcase your accomplishments.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
I spend a lot of time reading and listening to podcasts. There are so many great books and content out there that have really changed our business at each stage and cycle of our agency. In order for any business to be successful, it starts with the founder and how they are utilizing their time. So productivity was a key area I personally focused on because as a publicist you get exposed to so many opportunities that you sometimes develop “shiny object syndrome,” where you want to take on ALL opportunities. So one book that really changed the game for me was Brendon Burchard’s, “High-Performance Habits.” It changed the way I look at time allocation and accomplishing goals on a high level.
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?
I would love to inspire the entrepreneurial spirit in our teens. There’s something beautiful about watching the next generation create some of the most innovative businesses that have the capacity to change the world. It’s powerful to experience human resilience when it comes to creating something out of nothing. Especially if that something is what they doggedly obsess over. I believe that when we give our future generation the tools to be creative, the courage to try and fail, encouragement to think outside the box, they create businesses that not only impact the world but create a future that will change their own lives, leaving a forever legacy.