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Publicist Rockstars: “Take Notes; Always” with Sarah Doheny

In today’s climate, we just need to have respect for each other, the world is made up of incredibly diverse human beings who we can learn from daily if we so allow. Those who dispel hatred will need to find their own path and we cannot play into that at all. This is really a […]


In today’s climate, we just need to have respect for each other, the world is made up of incredibly diverse human beings who we can learn from daily if we so allow. Those who dispel hatred will need to find their own path and we cannot play into that at all. This is really a hard question in light of the past few days we have had here in our worlds. They have collided and as a force good always outweighs evil.


I had the pleasure of interviewing, Sarah Doheny, Principal at Your Unfinished Business Public Relations and Marketing


Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I will try and keep this short as I have worn many hats on this path. It was a phone call from my Uncle whom at the time had one of the longest-running food radio shows in the Philadelphia Market on WWDB, Dining Around with Frank and Mary Jelinek whom I also assisted on booking remotes for. At the time had a small gallery located on the Main Line which is right outside of Philadelphia and we were lamenting on the nature of business as I also have a restaurant background. I was standing in my store near the front and he said to me “Sarah, you are too well connected and know more people than I do and I have been in the game xyz years.” I laughed and we continued on and he finally came out and said: “seriously you should be in PR, you are a connector, you have networked your worth and have become quite a force whether you understand it or not you are.” Time went on and I thought about it off and on then I bought a Day Spa in Philadelphia and moved it from its original location to Walnut Street in the heart of Center City and life became totally different. I was a member of many organizations, I worked my butt off and in some way the universe had other plans, in three years I sold the Spa and then YUB was born as a concierge business, however, it slowly morphed into Public Relations and hence over 15 years later here I am.

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

Meeting Oprah Winfrey was an awe-inspiring moment in Washington, DC. I was working with a female Veteran Non Profit at the time and we had just had a wonderful article in Heroes Among Us in PEOPLE Mag, It was only a few short month’s later her production crew called me and said they had wished to film the NP for an upcoming tour that Oprah was doing, her Toyota Standing Ovation Tour, however, we could not say a thing as there was grant money involved and the winners would be decided that night in DC. We were not all on pins and needless as we had no idea if she would win, it was crazy, to be honest. Long story short she did win a $25,000 Grant and we met with Oprah after the event. Yes, I had my phone with me but I do not take selfies with celebrities it is a rule I have and its slim chance to none you will see me doing that. While I count the blessings over the years and look back at to what we have achieved and fun we have had in our first years as well, it has been a really fun ride.

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?

Forgetting to put all the correct information into the release, it would have been the address and time of event something really silly like that while the rest of my release was spot on. One writer who I worked with a lot at the time and we still do today, would call and say “yup you did it again”

Lesson learned~~ take your time, proof and proof it again and then have outside eyes proof it.

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

The goal is to best position your business to achieve what you’ve defined as success. That could be revenue growth, geographic expansion, a community of loyal customers or a better quality of life for yourself and your employees.” When first starting out, many entrepreneurs forget to look at their business as a whole. Not envisioning the future of your business can stunt your growth.

I would say it took me about 5 years to really settle in.

I also looked at my business through the eyes of my competitors, looking at their growth or lack of growth, internal communications and how that worked and then formed my business taking their peaks and valleys into consideration. P&P manuals are the godsend of business as our job descriptions.

As in all aspects of strategy, the key concern is why not what or how. It is a process and one that changes as your business model does. I honestly never wished to be an agency at all, nothing about that appealed to me. By staying boutique, we can offer our clients one to one relationships that many cannot. I am not saying agencies are bad by any means but by staying on my path I have to only answer to myself. Growth is Change and many are afraid of change, the only way to excel in this or any industry would be to embrace change. The scope of our reality has shifted 360 degrees from when I first started out. VC is a lot harder to get so you need to look closely at what your goals are, how do you wish to achieve them and then work that plan.

Profitability is knowing your worth and not settling for less. Growth spurts are the hardest and you need to make sure that you are aligned within the guidelines of your business and that you can feasibly take on more without losing your core

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

I am presently working with a mother and daughter team as they are creating a Healing Center for sexually abused women and children. This is borne out of their personal experience and through their pain, like the Phoenix they rose from the fires and are creating a beautiful site which will encompass equine therapy, 24-hour medical staff, yoga, meditations, gardens of tranquility, art classes and much more.

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

You will need to pay your dues just as we all have. Do not think that you will come to waltzing Matilda out of college into a 6 figure job. It is nights, weekends and you are married to your phone and your clients. It is networking, it is working events as door staffing, it is running for coffee if the talent wishes, it is being diligent. Do not think you know it all, listen and learn ~ think first ~ no question is ever stupid

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

I began to network first when I was in the retail space after I came out of college with my first degree. I was in Retail for about 15 years and worked my way up to District Manager so I was out at events both within the corporate structure and outside the corporate structure recruiting, speaking, etc. When I became a brick and mortar owner, I reached out to local business women I already knew through charitable organizations and began donating my time, gift certificates, etc when and where I could, I think I attended every event I possibly could that MADE SENSE this is the Key. Not every event is for you. I also created events as well that also boosted my visibility in the marketplace.

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

I am a reader and some of the ones I have read over the years were Social Media Marketing (who then became a client) Buzz Marketing, the holy grail Guerrilla Marketing, Seth Godin’s books, etc. As for podcast I listen to Gary V, Beth Comstock, Jake Wood among others. It is a takeaway and at some point during the reading or listening the narrator will strike a chord within you. Never stop learning once you do that you have stopped growing.

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?

I am far from being a “great influence” however I am humbled by that and I Thank You. In today’s climate, we just need to have respect for each other, the world is made up of incredibly diverse human beings who we can learn from daily if we so allow. Those who dispel hatred will need to find their own path and we cannot play into that at all. This is really a hard question in light of the past few days we have had here in our worlds. They have collided and as a force good always outweighs evil.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

I began on my own as the concierge business morphed into my present I took that leap and went right for it however I would say

1- LISTEN & PITCH on TOPIC always listen to your clients’ needs and wishes. Do not tell them what you think they need to know as remember they are paying you for your knowledge the second half is don’t pitch to a producer or on air who is in the middle of a snowstorm or breaking story when your client has nothing to do with the story. KNOW YOU MEDIA

2- Take Notes ~ always

3- Be on Time your client’s time is more important than yours

4- Follow Up ~ don’t be a nudge as we all get busy and I allow 3 days to follow up with a contact with a friendly reminder

5- THANK YOU NOTES ~ I write one to every vendor, producer, on-air we have ever worked with and trust me they do not forget. Pay attention to the Details

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