Gabrielle Gambrell of Gift of Gabrielle: “Mental health awareness is something that should be spoken about frequently and openly to eliminate stigmas and in return can positively impact and save lives”

Mental health awareness is something that should be spoken about frequently and openly to eliminate stigmas and in return can positively impact and save lives. I had the pleasure of talking with Gabrielle Gambrell. Gabrielle Gambrell is the Chief Communications Officer at Gift of Gabrielle, serving industry-leading sports, media, entertainment, consumer tech, lifestyle brands, and influencers. […]

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Mental health awareness is something that should be spoken about frequently and openly to eliminate stigmas and in return can positively impact and save lives.

I had the pleasure of talking with Gabrielle Gambrell. Gabrielle Gambrell is the Chief Communications Officer at Gift of Gabrielle, serving industry-leading sports, media, entertainment, consumer tech, lifestyle brands, and influencers. She’s a consultant, speaker, and faculty professor at NYU.

Gambrell’s career spans many world-renowned media giants, including Comcast NBCUniversal, CBS Corporation, and ABC, all by the age of 27. She was named to PRNEWS’ 2020 list of Top Women in PR. She also serves on the board of New York Women In Communications and is also a proud Board of Trustee member at her alma mater, Iona College.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I am a storyteller at heart with the “Gift of Gab.” I indeed have and naturally have always had the “Gift of Gab,” as my parents named me appropriately. I honestly have been telling stories my entire life from as early as I can remember. From my childhood to the present, people gravitate towards me for my strategic communication skills and my personal flare.

By the time I was 15 years old and named editor-in-chief of “The Tideline,” Pacific Palisades Charter High School’s newspaper, I knew that I wanted to work in or around journalism and tell stories. In addition to being the editor-in-chief of my high school’s journalism class, I also taught the class, assigning all assignments and determining final grades based on performance. This kicked off my desire to be a college professor.

In the fall of 2021, I will be teaching at Columbia University, as well as at my home base of New York University. I really enjoy bringing my day-to-day expertise into the classroom, as I vividly remember hearing stories from my college professors about “back in the day.” It makes a tremendous difference in the lives of my ambitious students that I am currently working in the industry and providing them up-to-the-minute industry expertise. In the same fashion, on the first day of all of my classes, as I teach many Gen Z students who are obtaining their master’s degrees, I challenge them to also teach me. I expect to learn as much from my students as I teach them.

The reason why I thrive with emerging technology and innovative strategies and providing that expertise to my diverse industry-leading clients is that I work with and learn from Generation Z on a daily basis. Serving as a professor tremendously helps me with my client work as it amplifies my expertise. I’m always learning and growing. I am absolutely blessed to operate in my true calling of storytelling and teaching.

In your opinion, what separates your agency from others in the space?

My services are unique, as I’ve personally worked in a variety of industries including nonprofit, entertainment, music, sports, fashion, technology, and talent relations. In addition to account managers, all of my clients have access to me and all of my expertise. Thus, my clients are provided with one-on-one service and support.

Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success thus far? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Ambitious, innovative, creative, and out-of-the-box thinking are traits that are instrumental to my success. I am honest with my clients on goal setting, but yet always ambitious.

Everything that I do is done with an eye on innovation, creativity, and out-of-the-box thinking, which sets them apart from competition. I truly lean into what’s unique about my clients and it organically catapults success. In the same token, not everyone is ready for PR expertise. Before I take on any clients, I ensure that they’re ready to thrive.

Ambition is the character trait that has most helped me win and succeed both in my career and for my clients. My ambition challenges clients to think outside the box with me and it excites them about new possibilities. Once a brand, company, or influencer is ready for PR, that’s when the fun begins.

I have a client who was first nervous about spending a measurable budget amount on public relations services. Still, she was at a point where her business was rapidly growing. Her company was ready for more and better exposure and needed a strategy for connecting authentically with her key stakeholders. Inspired by the innovative and visionary approach I drafted for her company, she jumped in with both feet — recognizing the value in strategic communications. Three contract terms later, we’ve now been working together long enough that I’ve seen her business grow exponentially. It’s something that brings us both great pride.

Wonderful. Let’s now jump into the main part of our interview. What 3 media strategies are typically most effective in generating more business for a national brand?

National brands are usually in an excellent position to obtain media coverage with public interest on behalf of their consumers and fan base. Businesses whose stories can resonate nationally have a wider selection of publications and reporters who would be interested in interviews, stories, and coverage.

These three helpful media strategies for national brands include identifying and building working relationships with reporters and journalists with relevant beats. This networking should definitely include freelancers, who usually contribute to multiple outlets. These unaffiliated columnists are excellent to help expand your business’ reach beyond your headquarters or home region.

Secondly, be on the look for unique, unexpected angles that are tangential to your business. Be sure to pay attention to heritage and awareness months from Black History Month to Women’s History Month, Pride Month, and beyond.

Thirdly, when you read an article from a reporter, go ahead and reach out to them. Reporters love to hear that you read their piece and you can use that as an entry to pitch your client. To be successful, you must continuously touch base with reporters and strengthen your network of journalists. We need relationships with journalists to excel, there’s no way around that.

Also, keep in contact with reporters who have already covered your business. When major news comes out that affects or is related to your company, offer your business leader’s expert perspective on the topic proactively.

For example, many national news publications report on breaking news or legislation that might affect your region, business, clients, or customers. This is the time to reach out and offer your expert thoughts on the subject. This also keeps your business top-of-mind and could even result in reporters reaching out to you in the future.

Would your PR strategy change much if a client is selling a physical product or has a service-based solution? B2C versus B2B? If so, please share an example or two that might demonstrate any differences.

Effective PR strategies must be client/product specific. The very first step of any PR campaign is research, the systematic gathering of information to understand client (culture), problem (issues), key publics, corporate operations, functions, values, goals, learning internal and external image (they’re indeed different), studying history and traditions, identifying your target audience, customer personal/market, services, the need you’re providing, the problem you’re eliminating, noting competition, your unique differentiators, executing a SWOT analysis, etc.

This fact-finding process helps to determine the focus of your campaign, identifies opportunities and obstacles by examining how your client has solved similar problems or how others/competitors have solved similar problems. PR is all about the desired behavior of publics — do you want to reinforce or change the behavior of certain publics and what actions must take place to change behaviors/create change? You must answer, what do you want the campaign to do and what information must you provide to make that happen.

After the research is conducted, planning, objective setting, programming and strategic communication and actions take place. Based on knowing the mission and goals at hand, discuss how you will achieve each. All goals should have a timeframe — set deadlines while considering both short-term and long-term goals. Outline strategies and tactics — your plan for promoting a desired end or result.

It is important to work on a developed timeline. This is where you identify specific, measurable, attainable, realistic goals, objectives, and strategies that go hand-in-hand with your client’s overall mission. This phase looks at the desired result(s) you’re committed to achieve/desired end-point, anticipated result(s), and what actions need to take place in order for them to occur. This phase includes event coordination and tactic execution to answer all of the questions determined in the research phase.

Implementation must take place after all necessary approvals occur while all key members (committees) are kept in the loop throughout the process. In today’s age, most campaigns encompass a digital event/program, partnerships, promotions, as well as a digital push for consumers keeping in mind their personal needs, campaign objectives with a strategic call to action on campaign-specific platforms (social, website, e-commerce, etc.) to impact a brand, product, company or organization.

Content creation and engagement are king — as together they generate brand loyalty and build unique and lasting public relationships. This implementation phase strategically uses the power of video, specific platforms, voice, tone, relevant influencers, and current trends. Moreover, there should be a strategy for financial increase for the company you choose.

Most importantly, evaluation is constant. What’s working, not working, what changes were made along the way or need to take place ASAP. Evaluation measures the success of your goals as well as a look at all objectives to determine success.

If a business is already investing monthly in PR, what other marketing strategies would you recommend they invest in that best compliments that work to bring in the most amount of business?

Expert branding consultation is another great investment honing into strategic voice and tone usage, as well as consumer engagement. Additionally, depending on the company-sponsored posts and advertising (which is completely separate from PR), may be another great investment.

If someone has already been covered in the media, what are the best next steps after that? What are your “5 Ways To Leverage that Media Coverage To Dramatically Grow Your Business”?

  1. Be sure to publicly thank reporters, the publication and moreover promote and share your media accomplishments/placements with current clients and potential clients on such platforms as a newsletter (share with your mailing lists), and social media (the mistake many make is only sharing media coverage once; share it multiple times and on every single platform that you have a presence. Share it in your stories, on your pages, as a throwback post and a flashback post, etc., to increase your chances of visibility and engagement. It’s always nice when my clients reshare stories with a tag and thank you to the journalist and publication resulting in a reshare or response from the reporter or outlet. It’s a mutual benefit in that the journalist is thanked, and all of that publication’s readers or viewers are now exposed to your business as well.
  2. Google/search your media coverage and then reshare the posts from others who already shared it. This strengthens your network, as many of those who have shared your coverage are interested in you and will then be delighted that you thanked them and are engaging with them online. If they’re not already following you on social media, it’s very likely they will follow you at this point.
  3. Engage in and create conversations around topics of your media coverage and use that as opportunities to share your coverage. Some of my expert clients participate in webinars and panels and can refer to their op-eds or media coverage as a way to amplify other places, including in the media, where they were sought out for their expertise, products or services.
  4. Something simple that many miss out on is simply posting media coverage on their own website. This mistake is a total missed opportunity. Always be sure to take advantage of your own real estate (your site) to share media coverage. You can also add “As Seen In” with the logo of the publication to your site.
  5. Lastly, strategically share top quotes, or even just a quote from your media coverage to increase the opportunity for people to read the entire piece on you or your company. Giving a sample entices readers to read more and you can even point them to your website first.

One more before we go: If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I am happy with the increased communications and dynamic conversations around mental health in the Black community. It’s a critical topic that I want to see grow into an impactful collective movement. I truly believe it can have a tremendous positive impact on the wellbeing and success of my community.

Mental health awareness is something that should be spoken about frequently and openly to eliminate stigmas and in return can positively impact and save lives.

Thank you for sharing your story with us today!



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