Just Be Kind & Honest — These two things are key and their importance is often overlooked. There are a million strategies to get clients. There are infinite ways to help your clients get press or write a pitch. At the end of the day, being kind and honest is what matters most. I could have all the best sales techniques but if I’m not honest on a call with a potential client about my strengths or areas of expertise, it’s going to be a negative experience for both of us in the long run. The same goes for kindness, people remember that. Whether they say yes to working with you or not, you want them to walk away with positive feelings towards you. I don’t know about you but I’d much rather be thought of as honest and kind than cold and “salesy.”
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 Delaney Vetter.
Delaney Vetter is a communications consultant specializing in PR and copywriting. She is passionate about helping entrepreneurs and innovative brands in the food and beverage and wellness industries get visible, tell their story and grow. She’s worked on projects for giants in the food world like Kettle Brand, Dave’s Killer Bread and Bob’s Red Mill as well as CPG startups, wellness providers and female founders in the online space. When she isn’t working on client projects, she can likely be found in the kitchen or on the cookbook aisle, she bakes a mean salted chocolate cookie.
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?
Thank you for having me!
I majored in communication studies in school and was a reporter then editor for our paper so I got my feet wet in the world of journalism early on. I loved it but wasn’t sure if an old school newsroom was for me, but I did know that I loved the interview process and writing.
I was on the hunt for something that was a better fit. I was able to spend some time at an incredible boutique PR agency and was thrown in the deep end of all things Public Relations. I loved getting to combine my love for writing with my passion for small business and innovative brands. I knew then that
PR was definitely something I was interested in pursuing. While in college I began to pursue freelance writing opportunities at publications I loved and saw some success there pretty early on. Seeing your name in print never gets old. When I graduated I immediately fell into freelance PR and copywriting and that’s where it all really began.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
Well, the pandemic is essentially responsible for where I am at in business now. We’ll just call it a silver lining. I actually graduated college in May of 2020, I know, super ideal time to be a new grad. Only a couple days after graduation, a freelancing opportunity fell in my lap from a previous connection. With a nonexistent job market and zero other commitments, I decided there was no harm in giving it a try. That small project turned into a nearly 9 month working relationship with that company and from there things snowballed, I got referral after referral and in July of 2020 I stopped my endless Linkedin scroll and decided to give my own boss a real shot and discontinue the job hunt. Ever since I’ve had an incredible client load and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. None of this would have been possible if the end of my senior year had been “normal.”
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’d never worked for myself before so the whole business side of the business was like a foreign language to me. With taxes and contracts and invoicing I felt super lost. I didn’t make any big mistakes per se but I definitely was very naive at the start. I thought that getting paid would be the easiest part and boy was I wrong. Between payment processors, chasing down late payments and keeping books up to date it was a part time job in itself.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? I think all my projects are exciting! My clients are all working on such big things that every product right now is a lot of fun. However, recently I’ve made it a priority outside of client work to do more passion projects that fill me up so I am in the early stages of planning for something that I am so excited about. It’s really exciting and rewarding to have something that you are just doing for you.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. It’s All In The Timing
When I first started out I put together these beautifully crafted pitches and a super tailored media list and was so overly confident that we would hit it out of the park. Of course it was the connection or total reach that would end up working out. You could pitch 100 people and get no bites or pitch 5 and have them all respond and want to feature your client, that unpredictability was definitely challenging at first. Once I accepted that it’s all about your pitch hitting the right person at the right time, my perspective changed.
2. The Worst Thing They Can Say Is No
This is something I still struggle with, the fear to take action. Whether that’s reaching out to someone to grab coffee and hear about what they do, pitch a brand collaboration or pitching yourself and your services to your dream clients. At the end of the day, you won’t know if you don’t try and the worst thing that can happen is that they say no and that’s not actually a bad thing.
3. You’re Gonna Have To Work To Get Those Dream Clients
For the first 9 months of my business every single client came from a referral. This meant I was at capacity without having to go out and find those clients myself. This also meant that I wasn’t being as intentional about who I worked with, luckily I had incredible referrals but as I wanted to niche down more I knew I would have to go out connect with those potential clients myself. I definitely took for granted how easy those referrals made my life at the beginning.
4. You Can’t Take It Personally
I like to make people happy! For the first few months of running my business when someone would say no on a sales call or turn me down via email it was hard not to feel a little bummed, especially when it was a client you were really excited about. What I’ve realized is that it is almost never about you. It’s about money, time or different needs. If they aren’t ready and excited to work with you it wouldn’t be a good fit anyway.
5. Just Be Kind & Honest
These two things are key and their importance is often overlooked. There are a million strategies to get clients. There are infinite ways to help your clients get press or write a pitch. At the end of the day, being kind and honest is what matters most. I could have all the best sales techniques but if I’m not honest on a call with a potential client about my strengths or areas of expertise, it’s going to be a negative experience for both of us in the long run. The same goes for kindness, people remember that. Whether they say yes to working with you or not, you want them to walk away with positive feelings towards you. I don’t know about you but I’d much rather be thought of as honest and kind than cold and “salesy.”
You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?
Be open, don’t dismiss any opportunity and follow up! You never know where something could lead, maybe that person isn’t going to offer you your dream job or be a client, but maybe they know someone who will, being open works wonders.
So many of my best connections came not just from being at the right place at the right time but from following up. I was always nervous about reaching out or emailing a second time but every single time I did the person was not only receptive but so grateful that I did. People get busy, following up shows them you are serious and gives them another chance to say yes!
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
Honestly none that come to mind but so many people. From mentors to professors to former bosses to clients I have them all to thank for helping me along the way!
This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.