Robyn Matarazzo: “Keep your plans to yourself and let success speak for you ”

I believe the best leads have come to me from the clients that I work with. When others see their success, as well as my clients always working on new projects, they often reach out to me to try to do the same for them. Other people’s success is my best referral. As a part […]

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I believe the best leads have come to me from the clients that I work with. When others see their success, as well as my clients always working on new projects, they often reach out to me to try to do the same for them. Other people’s success is my best referral.

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 Robyn Matarazzo.

As the founder and CEO of Illumination PR, Robyn Matarazzo spearheads the firm with over 12 years of experience in the public relations field. With expertise in business development and public relations, Robyn provides strategic, creative, and measurable work closely with a variety of her clients in the celebrity, business, lifestyle, beauty, health, and wellness, and fashion realm. Robyn is also a partner in two businesses which were both created to solve an issue during the COVID-19 pandemic: Celeb Tees x Celebrities, which designs and manufactures celebrity merchandise, and By Celebrities, which is an online subscription platform providing access to top celebrity workouts and more. Additionally, Robyn co-owns Westchester, NY-favorite restaurant, Villaggio Italiano. In her early twenties, she bartended at the same restaurant that she now owns and operates.

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 working when I was 13 years old, so I got to experience working in many different fields before finding that I love watching business and individuals’ success and growth and being a part of their success. I was working in Westchester County, NY, as a web designer, doing basic website design, and a client approached me and asked if I would help her plan an event for Breast Cancer Awareness month. I loved every second of watching the event come together. We had over 100 people show up. I hired a photographer and called the local news and magazines to see if they wanted to cover the event, and once it was over, the high I felt from seeing the success of all my hard work, I knew I wanted to do more of this. I started helping local businesses garner attention for their business through events and press, and doors started opening for me. Another client of mine that I did an e-commerce site for asked if I was interested in working with one of her friends who was on a hit reality show. From that point, I established Illumination PR, and it’s been quite an interesting journey since.

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

We had a client whom we were working with for about 2 years, and she was a psychologist. We garnered over 1,000,000 media impressions very quickly, and her practice grew so much over the two-year time frame that she called to tell us that she needed to stop working together because she could not grow her business any larger than she had, based on the success of the work we did for her. It was the most positive breakup we all have been through, and we told her that! A very cool success story that showed the power of public relations.

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 working with a client on my first cover shoot of a magazine. We were at her house with her kids, and the editor from the magazine was there. At the end of the shoot, the editor, who is a friend of mine to this day, asked if there was anything specific that I wanted them to include in the article, and I was so new, I said, “Yes, can we include my company name in there please?” She was kind enough to explain that that wasn’t typically how they do things, but she would do her best, knowing full well the answer was a no, but she was kind in how she went about it. Fast forward about 11 years later, and I laugh to this day that I was so new in the business, working on a cover in a major magazine asking for Illumination PR credits. I learned that my success comes from the success of my clients; my business will soar because of who I surround myself with client wise and how successful they are.

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

During the COVID-19 quarantine, it was important for me to keep busy. Business slowed a little bit, and I always have ideas and want to start new things. A few of our celebrity clients were not happy with the company they were working with that handled clothing print shops. My team at Illumination kept joking around and said, “You’re going to start a t-shirt business, aren’t you?” I asked one of the girls on my team, Deven McCarthy, who has been with me for 5 years, to partner with me and start a celebrity printing business. Without a blink of an eye, she agreed, and we started a new company called CelebTees x Celebrities. Here we are 5 months later and have just launched our 6th site and on track to do over 1 million in our first year of business. Once we started that, one night during COVID, my boyfriend, Michael Bordes, told me that there will be a drastic change in the fitness industry, and we should start something with virtual fitness where fans can work out with celebrities, influencers, and trainers. Then I partnered with him and Deven to create By Celebrities — a virtual live workout platform with some of your favorite influencers. Today, we have launched 4 people and have 6 more to go that have signed up to launch. Lastly, one project that we worked on at Illumination for over 5 years was Celebrity Gift Lounges.

We loved doing it, and the attention that brands got from having some of the hottest celebrities holding their product was so exciting. I was discussing with Natasha Makoso and Valerie Heinonen, who also works with me at Illumination, and we were coming up with ways to do celebrity lounges virtually. We decided that this was something we wanted to turn into a business. We just launched Virtual Celebrity Lounge — a platform that pairs brands with celebrities and their social media through multiple integration opportunities. We are excited to get this off the ground together and plan to launch on November 1st, 2020. I always try to inspire my team to want more, and they are all hungry for more success and more growth. If they approach me with an idea that I love and think will be successful, I will always partner with them to build a successful business that puts us all into a better place in our careers.

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

1. Not everyone will be clapping for you, and not everyone wants to see you succeed. — unfortunately, this was a tough lesson to learn, but I did through trial and error.

2. Keep your plans to yourself and let success speak for you — if people know what you are working on before it’s executed, some may see that as an opportunity to take from you.

3. Always have a savings account– no matter what, when you have your own business, you never know what can happen, and it’s always safe to have savings to get you through a few months if needed.

4. Never put into a text or email something that you wouldn’t want to be shared. — technology and people are funny these days. People overshare, and I have learned that what you put into writing can be used against you.

5. Have a great lawyer to ask questions, run things by, and protect you.

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

Communication. I think many people think that they need to be out at events to network. I remember doing that for the first few years of my business, and it didn’t generate what I was hoping for. I think constant communication with people on the telephone, via text and email, keeps the lines of communication open for new projects and opportunities. Also, having the courage to reach out and share what you are working on with people. You never know what doors you will open just by the people you meet and speak to.

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?

I believe the best leads have come to me from the clients that I work with. When others see their success, as well as my clients always working on new projects, they often reach out to me to try to do the same for them. Other people’s success is my best referral.

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

“Life’s Four Agreements” is one book that completely changed my view and perspective both personally and professionally. What I learned from that book helped implement such a positive change in my life.

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. 🙂

My movement would truly be spreading positivity and kindness. I’ve been waiting for that to catch on for so long. The world would be a better place.

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

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