Nurture your relationships. If you want to be truly in touch with life and build a successful career, do not lose touch with the people that matter to you. Make time for close friends and appreciate your team members. Truly successful, happy people are not all about work. They know the importance of nurturing and maintaining the relationships that make all that hard work worthwhile.
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 Talia Beckett Davis. She is the Creator of the Public Relations Academy, Founder of the Organization of American Women in Public Relations, and the Organization of Canadian Women in Public Relations (Women in PR North America). She runs the PR Agency, Pink Pearl PR, and has worked with some of the largest brands in North America. Talia shares her public relations tips on her blog and podcast Fempreneur.com. NASDAQ recognized her as a PR Influencer, and PR Week showcased how she is helping women in public relations move into leadership positions to overcome the gender pay gap.
Thank you for joining us in this series. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
10 years ago, I packed my life into 2 suitcases and moved to London, England with my husband to pursue my master’s degree. I wanted to work with global brands and London was the centre of international business. I wanted to have my own PR agency to help other business owners build their reputation and influence. While I was completing my master’s degree, we spent as much time as possible traveling around Europe. We went away for the weekend and I came up with the idea for Pink Pearl PR on a cocktail napkin in a pub in Cardiff, Wales. I reached out to my network in Canada to tell them about my business plans. Through my network, I was able to get started with a few PR contracts and my agency grew quickly.
As successful as I had become, I felt isolated and I wanted to connect with my fellow PR and media professionals. I wanted to have conversations about things like the gender pay gap and women’s confidence issues in the workplace.
As a result, I started Canadian Women in Public Relations and American Women in Public Relations (Women in PR North America). I registered the organization and I trademarked everything because I knew that this was going to be big and others would likely copy what I was doing. At the time, I did not know how big something like this could possibly get!
The launch event in Vancouver was a huge success with over 100 guests in attendance and I had to turn people away at the door because we had reached capacity at the venue. Then something amazing happened. We were trending all over social media and women in public relations were asking me what city I was coming next! We now have chapters across the Americas and virtual networking events to bring our members together.https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/58ffb954f5c7f1f2c8f484357357fa77
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
At the beginning of my career, I represented a brand that had multiple products recalls. My job was to manage the long-term reputation of the company and when the product was recalled, we were dealing with media showing up at the head office and planning multiple press conferences to address questions. Our long-term marketing plans were put on hold as we had to shift to dealing with mitigating the recall situation. I went from promoting the products in major magazines to managing a potential crisis. It was this moment in my public relations career, that I realized the importance of creating trust with your brand advocates and building media allies before you need their support. Now, I am teaching crisis communications and media relations as a professor at Simon Fraser University and sharing this example with my students.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting?
I was attending a media event in Atlanta for a new client and they booked my flight from Toronto instead of Vancouver, where I live! Then when I arrived at the hotel, my reservation did not exist, but I had a confirmation number. Even worse, the hotel did not have any rooms left so I had to book at another hotel. When I finally met my client at 10 p.m. after a long day of traveling, I noticed they had just started prepping the swag bags that we promised attendees for an event the next day. On the day of the event, there was a thunderstorm that caused multiple accidents and road closures. My client had booked an event space in a location that was within driving distance only and we had a lot of media cancel. My client spent thousands of dollars on this launch event, including my travel expenses, and although we got a lot of great photos of the celebration, it did not result in the media coverage we were expecting. I felt very defeated, but it resulted in a stronger relationship with my client and we learned a lot from the experience.
Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The biggest lesson is communication and being overprepared! I was not hired to organize this event, rather meet with the media attending. My client did not have an event planner. Now, I always review everything with my client to offer additional planning support, even if it is out of scope. You cannot plan for bad weather and road closures! When I host my own events, I choose locations that are transit accessible and, in the city center. I also charge an admission price to attend an event and make it more of a networking opportunity. If I cannot charge an admission price, I tell attendees about the valuable swag bag in advance that they will not want to miss. If someone pays to be there, they are more likely to show up, despite the bad weather.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m working with RE Royalties on a new green bond offering to help investors grow the clean energy sector and earn a secured 6% annual return, paid quarterly for 5 years. It is an exciting project as we get to help channel capital into renewable energy projects to help slow and mitigate climate change. The International Renewable Energy Agency forecasts that US$750 billion a year is needed in renewables alone over the next decade and I am thankful to play a small part.
I also created the Public Relations Academy, an online membership to help business owners build their reputation and influence. If someone wants to hire me to work on their public relations strategy, they need to have a healthy marketing budget. However, I recognize that there are a lot of start-ups that want to take a DIY approach. In the Public Relations Academy, I help my fellow female entrepreneurs create their own content marketing plans, build their personal brand image, and learn how to pitch the media effectively.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
1. Success does not happen overnight. True failure is never trying. The most successful female entrepreneurs are not the ones that instantly succeed. They are the ones that get up, take notes of what did not work, brainstorm, and keep going! True failure is never trying in the first place and you cannot build a successful career or business if you give up too quickly.
2. Confidence comes from taking action and helping others. Focus on how you are going to help the person you are writing that book for or how much it will help not just your client but other members of the team if you get your project in on time. When you are focused on helping others, you are taking action and your confidence will grow.
3. A side-hustle will increase your career success. There is a common misconception that having a side hustle that makes you money outside of your full-time job will make you less successful, and less focused, on your employer. However, the opposite is true. By having a side business, you are showing ambition. You are building your network and personal portfolio. You are in a constant state of learning whereas many employees may not be, putting you at an advantage.
4. Nurture your relationships. If you want to be truly in touch with life and build a successful career, do not lose touch with the people that matter to you. Make time for close friends and appreciate your team members. Truly successful, happy people are not all about work. They know the importance of nurturing and maintaining the relationships that make all that hard work worthwhile.
5. Narrow your focus. Stop and listen. If you are overwhelmed by distractions, try focusing only on one single task at a time, ignoring everything else. When so much emphasis is on doing, achieving, producing in the entrepreneurial landscape, many entrepreneurs forget to really stop and listen so they can focus. Listen to your customers and clients. Listen to your followers. Listen to your peers and especially to your team. The most successful people know how to listen and follow through.
You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?
A little while ago, I attended a lunch event and noticed that half of the attendees were multitasking, checking phone messages, and not being present at the event. This is not an unusual occurrence, and it made me stop to remind myself why I was attending these networking events in the first place! I was using my time to network and make meaningful connections, but networking with a group of strangers can be intimidating (and sometimes checking emails is a good distraction). If you use your phone at a networking event, do it with a purpose. Live tweet the presentation and use the event hashtag. This will allow you to connect with attendees and conference organizers on social media. If you take photos, post them on social media and tag others.
After you have attended an event, follow-up with your connections and check those that have engaged with your social media posts. Your immediate goal should not be to get something from this person, but rather to learn how you can potentially collaborate.
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?
Your audience is unique and if you want to attract quality leads, you need to know what your customers want from you. The simplest way to do this is to ask your social media followers! Create a poll or online survey and provide an incentive for them to participate. Then, give them what they have asked for. For example, if they want an influence building cheat sheet, create one for them as an email opt-in. Or you could host a free publicity challenge to engage them. This will give them a glimpse of your knowledge on a particular topic and allow you to sell your products or services to an interested audience.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain it?
The book She Means Business by Carrie Green was very inspiring to me when I was first starting my business and I read it cover-to-cover! Through following Carrie, I learned about Stu McLaren, who helped me set-up my Public Relations Academy membership. I’m also part of Gina Devee’s membership to help me grow my business. Julie Solomon’s Influencer Podcast provides some incredible tips on how to work with brands for my blog Fempreneur.com. I believe that to be successful, you need to be a constant learner. If I had not taken the time to read some of these books or subscribe to these podcasts, I would not have met some very influential people that have helped me along the way in my business journey.
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. 🙂
The movement that I want to make is for employers to recognize that the gender pay gap that exists in the public relations industry is affecting not only women but their entire family’s finances.
In North America, there are several laws that mandate equal pay for the same work. However, despite these laws, pay inequality still exists. Over the course of a woman’s public relations career, women are being shortchanged. According to the Wage Project (2018), it’s costing the average woman between $700,000 and $2 million.
Our research at Women in PR North America identified that many women have nonlinear careers, meaning that some take time off, and have a difficult time maintaining continuous employment, which has traditionally been a condition for career success.
When we look at the typical woman’s career pattern, women have a strong increase in their career success after the age of 35. This is typically after many women have taken a break to manage other commitments, such as to care for young children or elderly relatives.
The bottom line is that the financial penalties for taking time off can be severe. When women are ready to re-enter the workforce, they find it challenging to get back on the career fast track. As a result, many women in public relations are leaving their corporate jobs to start their own agencies to create a flexible work schedule.
Employers are then left with a limited talent pool to fill their positions. This outdated career model is leaving many women unable to break the glass ceiling and it is impacting their earnings over the course of their career. That is something we are working to change at Women in PR North America.
This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.