No one understands your job, not even your client. Unless you work in public relations, you probably don’t know what the job even entails. Parents, friends and clients might be confused when you explain how you get stories in the news or all the behind the scenes work that you do.
I had the pleasure to interview Nick Vecore, Summer Hutchinson and Dana Eble. Nick, Summer and Dana make up the public relations department at M&O Marketing in Southfield, Michigan. Together, they represent independent financial advisors and insurance agents to position them as expert sources for local and national news outlets including USA Today, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and more. Their goal as a department is to help these financial advisors grow their business and brad.
Thank you so much for your time. I know that you are all very busy Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
We all went into public relations for various reasons but were drawn to the field because it presented many different options for a career. We like that PR allows us to be creative as we build brands and help people expand their businesses.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
At M&O Marketing, we represent independent financial advisors who are located around the country. We help brand their business and position them as experts in various local and national news outlets. One of the most interesting aspects of our position is seeing how different markets across the country work. With some clients, we can get them onto television news in one try, with other cities it takes months of relationship building.
We’ve been able to travel across the country to visit our clients and assist them in major opportunities like commercial production and photoshoots for magazine covers. We love seeing our hard work come to fruition when a shiny magazine arrives on our desks with our clients on the cover.
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?
As public relations professionals in the financial field, we’re constantly coming up with fun ideas to capitalize on “holidays” like “Life Insurance Awareness Day” or “Financial Literacy Month.”
One day, we sent out a pitch for “Social Security Day” to multiple reporters, only to find out that we got the date wrong. A reporter emailed us back and pointed out the mistake, much to our embarrassment. Now we make sure to double-check everything before sending out pitches.
How did you scale your business to profitability? How long did it take? Please share the steps you took.
The way we operate as a public relations department is different than other companies. We use public relations as a method to attract new financial professionals to our company and then help those same people attract clients for their own business. Instead of focusing on profitability, we focus on our success rate with getting clients mentioned in the media. Last year we had over 1,000 news placements.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
As part of the public relations program, we offer a book publishing service to our financial advisors. Recently, we opened our own separate publishing company in order to better serve our clients who choose to write books. We’re able to service our clients from start to finish in this process by helping them write and publish their book, and later helping with marketing and promotion once the book is released. We have several books in the pipeline for 2019, which has added excitement to our daily activities.
Based on your personal experience, what advice would you give to young people considering a career in PR?
PR is a huge field with a lot of variety. You can go in any direction you want with it, from agency to corporate to social media. If you’re thinking about starting a career in public relations, reach out to some professionals you know and ask them about their daily routines and job duties. Public relations requires you to wear many hats and have great time management skills, so you should be comfortable juggling a few responsibilities at once. We highly encourage internships because public relations on paper is very different from actually doing it. Find what you’re passionate about and try to get hands-on work doing that. If afterwards you find out you don’t like that specific type, don’t be afraid to go in a different direction.
You are known as master networkers. Can you share some tips on great networking?
Building relationships is one of the most important parts of this field. Reporters don’t exist simply to get your client in the news, they are doing an important job and PR pros need to respect that. As a public relations professional, it’s your job to provide the reporter with credible, reliable sources that fit their beat. We’ve found that once a relationship is established, reporters are more willing to work together to cover different topics. Utilize social media, follow the reporters you work with on LinkedIn and Twitter, which can be great tools for pitching and networking.
When emailing reporters, you don’t always have to pitch a specific story or product, don’t be scared to email them for a friendly introduction or to let them know that you have sources available if needed.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
Not a specific book or podcast, but we’ve been able to attend various conferences that have really helped us in our careers. At these conferences we’ve been able to network with other public relations professionals, meet reporters and attend seminars for new ideas and trainings.
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. 🙂
We wish that as a society we could be more open and accepting of people with different viewpoints and lifestyles. We all have so much to learn from each other and should do that with open minds and hearts to be more understanding of our differences.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why.
1. Get used to bugging people. You’ll have to follow-up with reporters’ multiple times for certain stories. Sometimes they missed your first email, other times they’re just not interested, but you won’t know until you send that follow-up email. The worst a reporter can say is “no,” so don’t be scared to email them multiple times. We do this on a weekly basis with our different story ideas and through interreacting with different reporters have learned who needs a follow-up and who does not.
2. You need to always be thinking ahead. Print publications prepare their topics months in advance. If you send a winter pitch in November, you have likely already missed their deadline. We juggle multiple editorial calendars to make sure that we’re prepared for holidays and events months before they’re happening. Sometimes this means talking about summer travel while we’re in the middle of a snowstorm.
3. Watch the news. To be successful as a public relations professional, you need to constantly stay up to date with what’s happening in the news. Be aware that if you’re sending a “Top 5 Tips for Saving Money” pitch on the same day as a breaking news story, your pitch will be buried.
4. No one understands your job, not even your client. Unless you work in public relations, you probably don’t know what the job even entails. Parents, friends and clients might be confused when you explain how you get stories in the news or all the behind the scenes work that you do.
5. Public relations is a huge field. Every company uses PR to some degree, so there is a niche for everything. Find your niche and don’t be scared to try something new. We represent independent financial advisors, there really is a job for everything.