Community//

Publicist Rockstars: “Keep taking informational interviews even later in your career” With Melody Wolff

Keep taking informational interviews even later in your career. I took a great course in college that helped prepare students for their job search post-graduation. We were required to do a number of informational interviews where we met with people in our field of interest and spoke to them about their experiences and career paths. […]


Keep taking informational interviews even later in your career. I took a great course in college that helped prepare students for their job search post-graduation. We were required to do a number of informational interviews where we met with people in our field of interest and spoke to them about their experiences and career paths. These meeting were invaluable. Not only did I learn a great deal from these people, but they were also very willing to open doors for me and connect me with their network. I learned that, if there’s ever someone you want to be connected to, asking for an informational interview is a great way to get your foot in the door, and lay the groundwork for a substantial relationship in the future.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Melody Wolff, Briz Media Group’s Chief Everything Officer. Melody is responsible for everything from new business to account management. She has over ten years of experience elevating the profile of organizations and executive leadership on a global basis through the creation and implementation of innovative marketing and communications programs that drive brand awareness, media coverage, client loyalty, lead generation and customer acquisition. She has a proven track record for creating and seamlessly executing events, public relations and social media campaigns, strategic partnerships, content creation and thought leadership development.


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 started my career in market research, but quickly realized I’d rather work with people instead of numbers. I worked at small PR agencies for several years and got some great experience in healthcare and technology and also as a generalist working with everyone from Newt Gingrich to Jim Henson.

I was then given a big opportunity to leave the agency world and go in-house which helped to change the trajectory of my career. This opportunity provided me with the chance to have my own clientele and work from home, managing every aspect of the PR business from strategic planning and execution of media outreach to video production, coordinating brand activation events on a national level, and traveling internationally to report and present to the company’s leadership team. Eventually, I landed other in-house PR/Marketing/Corporate Communications roles, helping to increase the profile of several large B2B brands. I’m able to leverage that in-house expertise now that I’m back on the agency side — a move I decided to make a few years ago when I realized I wanted to be in a more client-facing role.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?

The other agencies I’ve worked for never placed a strong emphasis on awards. It was something clients always wanted, but despite our efforts, we were never able to deliver wins. At Briz Media Group, we have a dedicated specialist who has extensive experience in telling a client’s story in a way that resonates with awards judges. It’s been great to see the value clients get when their work is recognized, and the boost that being at an award show with big brands brings to a client’s business. I’ve had clients tell me that being at an awards show was single-handedly the best new business opportunity they’ve had all year!

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 was on a media tour in NYC with an international client on our way to meet with an editor and, as luck would have it, it started pouring rain. This being New York, there were absolutely no cabs available — so we ended up taking a pedicab. Let me tell you, it’s no fun being in a bicycle-drawn carriage when it’s raining cats and dogs! It’s funny looking back on it now, but it also taught me several important lessons: be prepared for anything, and always check the weather beforehand.

How did you scale your business to profitability? How long did it take? Please share the steps you took.

A lot of new clients come in through word of mouth so in a service-based business, it’s essential to provide outstanding service to your clients. It’s also really important to evolve with the industry. PR has changed tremendously since when I first started over 10 years ago. You can benefit greatly by staying true to your roots while expanding service offerings and adapting to new trends.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I have a client that is making tremendous strides in AI and robotics. It’s fascinating to see how far technology has come and where it’ll take us, and it’s very exciting to be on the front lines of telling the story of transformative companies.

Based on your personal experience, what advice would you give to young people considering a career in PR?

Persistence is so critical in this profession. In order to build relationships with journalists and get the information you need from your clients, you have to have thick skin and be persistent. In addition, you should do one thing that makes you uncomfortable everyday. Pushing the envelope can make the difference between landing a breakthrough opportunity or a client or not.

You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?

Smile and ask questions. People are receptive to a smiling face and love talking about themselves. Ask unique and memorable questions to engage people and leave a lasting impression. Instead of asking a person what they do, ask them instead about some of the challenges they’re currently facing. Asking questions that get people talking ensures they will remember you. Connecting on a personal level also helps to leave a memorable impression. Try to find something you have in common — a love of yoga, an obsession with cold brew coffee, a shared vacation destination or experience. Plus, these small personal connections make for a much more interesting follow-up email.

Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?

I have a client based in China that was coming to New York City for the first time. Coincidently, the New York Times’ The Daily podcast, which I listen to regularly, had just published a two-part series on advances in China. Listening to these podcasts helped me understand some of the nuances of the Chinese culture which ended up being helpful in my client interactions.

How I Built This on NPR is another great one. It’s inspiring to hear about how some of the biggest brands in the world got their start!

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’ve always enjoyed mentoring people coming out of college, helping with their resumes and working with them to figure out the best way to articulate their unique skill sets. There have been so many people who did the same for me, and I think as professionals it’s important to support the next generation. If everyone helped three people starting out in their field, not only would it make the industry more welcoming, but it would give people opportunities that they otherwise wouldn’t have.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

You don’t always have to say “yes” to your clients. Clients come to PR professionals for their expertise, but they also often see you as a vendor that should do whatever they want. In the long run, the client will benefit more from your strategic guidance than by you only ever doing what they say.

Merchandize your work! It’s easy to overestimate how much your client knows about the details that go into getting coverage or how influential an article can be. Instead of just sending a link to the article and information about the publication, talk about the long-term effect a particular article can have. Also, discuss ways to amplify exposure and leverage the article on different channels to reach new audiences.

Have a good work-life balance. PR is an “always on” job, and clients often expect responses instantaneously. On top of that, international clients often expect you to be on their time zone, which can lead to meetings and phone calls at all hours. Nevertheless, it’s important to carve out me/family/friend time and stick to it. There is a way to exceed client expectations while still creating boundaries.

Take time to develop relationships with journalists. Having a good rapport with journalists certainly doesn’t guarantee you a story, but it does ensure that they will at least read your email. It’s up to you to tell a compelling story that will pique their interest. Early in my career, I worked for someone whose one and only interview question was, “Who do you know?” In those circumstances, having those in-depth connections will pay significant dividends.

Keep taking informational interviews even later in your career. I took a great course in college that helped prepare students for their job search post-graduation. We were required to do a number of informational interviews where we met with people in our field of interest and spoke to them about their experiences and career paths. These meeting were invaluable. Not only did I learn a great deal from these people, but they were also very willing to open doors for me and connect me with their network. I learned that, if there’s ever someone you want to be connected to, asking for an informational interview is a great way to get your foot in the door, and lay the groundwork for a substantial relationship in the future.

This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Work Smarter//

The One Habit Great Professionals Never Outgrow

by C-Suite Coach
Wisdom//

Six Expert Tips For Recent College Grads On The Job Hunt

by Gabrielle Simpson
Photo by Matt Ragland on Unsplash
Thrive on Campus//

4 Important Reminders That Will Help You Thrive in College

by Sruti Bandlamuri

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.