How to ask the right questions to get the right people hired — I learned how to better interview and better qualify people to ensure they are a fit to work at NRPR overtime. I used to be less picky in the beginning because I needed help. Now, I hire slow and fire fast if someone isn’t a fit. This process has translated into creating a stronger and more harmonious team. This isn’t to say that there weren’t great team members who were with me at the beginning, but I made a lot of hiring mistakes. Where my company is at right now, is the best we’ve ever been to.
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 Nicole Rodrigues.
Nicole Rodrigues is a powerhouse founder of two companies, NRPR Group and the Young Dreamers Foundation, as well as the host of the YouTube show, Beverly Hills Boss, and Author of Beverly Hills Boss the book. She has more than 19+ years of experience in PR, social media, and digital marketing. She’s the creator and personality behind PRactical Guide to Publicity, an award-winning video series aimed at helping CEOs, CMOs and others understand the true benefits of utilizing PR and digital marketing.
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?
One thing that I learned very early on about myself is that I had a knack for motivating people with persuasive writing and leadership. I was the oldest of nine kids, so leadership and looking after others came naturally to me. Since these were all natural abilities that I was good at, I wanted to find a profession that I could do just as naturally and PR was the perfect fit.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
One of my favorite stories to share is about the time I got to have dinner with Lionel Richie. We were planning some media opportunities with my client, Heal. We were having such a great time and chatting about how my teenage daughter was a big fan, so he brought up that we should call her. In the middle of dinner, he FaceTimed my daughter with my phone and there he was, on the other end of the phone, when she answered. She was in her pajamas, no makeup on, and in absolute shell shock about what she was seeing. He has such a big heart and is truly one of the kindest people I have ever met. He ended the call by saying “I love you: and she said “I love you too.” When I came home, she told me after the call she ran to her dad and said “dad, you know what? When you and mom tell me that you love me, it’s like I’m 1x’s a lady, but when Lionel Richie tells me he loves me, I’m 3x’s a lady.” This is one of the most fun evenings I’ve had in my career and I’m glad that I was able to share it with my daughter.
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?
You learn quickly to double-check your work when you call public relations, ‘pubic’ relations. You always see jokes that people make like this and professors using this kind of an example to tell their students that they should always double-check their work. Well… They’re right because this happened to me and I learned to edit my work really fast after that happened.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
In the wake of the Pandemic, my company, NRPR Group, found another area of the business that we wanted to expand on. In the next few weeks, we’re launching a new part of NRPR to help other businesses get started from the ground up. We know so many people get tripped up describing themselves, building their mission statement, and just getting registered. Sometimes it’s just as simple as starting a social media account or a website which people need help with. Over the course of six years, we’ve worked with so many startups and can now help and produce these companies. At the moment, we’re helping two companies get their feet in the door. They now have their own bank accounts for the business, social media accounts, messaging, and websites, all because we’ve helped them. People need help and people to guide them. I’m honored this is something we can now do and offer as a service.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- I wasn’t going to be getting much sleep — I thought I worked hard before, but being a CEO is like working twice as hard. In the beginning, you’re basically working for very little money to get the company off the ground. I worked twice as hard and made a quarter of my original salary when I became an entrepreneur. You get very little sleep to get your company off the ground and running, but it’s all worth it.
- How everything should be done properly — From finance to legality laws of owning a company, I had to learn the hard way how this works. I made a lot of mistakes in my first two years with things that weren’t part of my profession of PR, but part of owning a business. This is part of why I wanted to start this new business venture I talked about at NRPR to help other companies struggle less than I did.
- How to ask the right questions to get the right people hired — I learned how to better interview and better qualify people to ensure they are a fit to work at NRPR overtime. I used to be less picky in the beginning because I needed help. Now, I hire slow and fire fast if someone isn’t a fit. This process has translated into creating a stronger and more harmonious team. This isn’t to say that there weren’t great team members who were with me at the beginning, but I made a lot of hiring mistakes. Where my company is at right now, is the best we’ve ever been to.
- From day one, create a playbook for training — I didn’t discover that this was important until a year and a half into starting my business. I was getting asked the same questions over and over about the policies of the company and finally realized that if I wrote them down, it would’ve made training easier. Having everything in one place where everyone can go back to is great. It’s like having a syllabus for a class. If you spell everything out from the beginning, it makes everything else flow much better.
- How long it’ll take to actually make a decent amount of money — I could have better prepared, but overall it eventually works out. I was just on a college student’s salary for a while, but looking back, it was all worth it. So many companies CEOs want to make money, so they take everything that’s made and keep it for themselves rather than putting it back into the company. This is why so many companies fail. If you do this, you can’t grow the company. Rather, you deflate it. It’s not glamorous being the CEO of a startup and you shouldn’t take the company money in the beginning. You should earn that through the growth of the company.
You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?
My best tip is to be authentic and seek an understanding of what other people need. You might be able to introduce someone to someone else in your network. It’s not just about you or how someone else can benefit your business. Whether it’s friends or other people in your professional network, you find people you think you can make an introduction to. After all, my network is my net worth.
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?
My company is just getting good at our own. Using the right keywords and optimizing your website in this digital age is imperative. If you want to generate leads that aren’t from your network, you need to optimize your website in all possible ways. Keep a strong network around you. You are who you hang out with. I have friends of all shapes, sizes, and economic backgrounds. In my professional life, I am surrounded by high-quality people. If you surround yourself with these people, you’ll attract them too.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
Books wise, I’d say Blue Ocean Strategy by Renée Mauborgne. When I was forming my company, I kept thinking about what my blue ocean was. This book was given to me by an old mentor. It really helped me figure out how to reinvent the way PR was being done. Being true to the traditional sense of what worked and finding ways to do what you can with the things that weren’t done well. Especially things relating to client communications. I got big on investing in things that help us report and measure successes. Even now, so many years after reading this book initially, I continue to think about what the blue ocean is in new ventures for my company.
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. 🙂
I would start a movement to encourage more people to improve their reading and writing. So many people get taken advantage of because of knowledge gaps and lack of understanding when they read things. I think this is how people get misinformed and fall into fake media traps. Being transparent, using language that people understand, and inspiring people to read and get better is what we need more of. Just because you passed grammar school doesn’t mean you’ve mastered the English language. There’s no such thing as too much education. When it comes to reading and writing, I know so many people in my mom’s demographic who are now struggling to work because they can’t fill out a proper application online. It’s confusing to them and these are people who graduated from elementary and high school. Graduating doesn’t mean having an A in the English language. To survive in the U.S. and any other country, you need to, no matter what age, get better at reading and writing.
This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.