Vulnerability is power. Sometimes, you need to push through insecurity to get to authenticity — this takes work. But being vulnerable with others is a powerful place to be. When you’re vulnerable, you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
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 Samuels.
With a decade of hospitality public relations experience, Talia Samuels is one of the most sought- after publicity specialists in her industry. As the founder & president of Outshine Public Relations, Talia works on behalf of an all-star client roster, including AAA Five Diamond-awarded properties, celebrity restaurateurs, and Michelin-starred and James Beard Award-winning chefs. Her company was recently named one of America’s Best PR Agencies by Forbes.
With deep roots in the hospitality industry, she has a passion for supporting hoteliers, restaurateurs, and chefs through her creative storytelling verticals. Talia’s integrity and expertise distinguish her as a trusted source for her media colleagues. Recognized as a force in her field, she has proven expertise in developing, implementing, and executing communications strategies that increase brand awareness, foster community connection & recognition through creative public relations campaigns, social media strategies, and special events.
Throughout her career, Talia has served as a Director on several industry boards, including the California Restaurant Association’s Orange County Chapter. She currently serves on the Board for the Newport Beach Restaurant Association’s Business Improvement District. In 2017, she was inducted into Les Dames d’Escoffier, a by-invitation-only organization of women leaders in the hospitality industry.
Thank you so much for your time Talia! I know that you are a very busy person. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Outshine PR represents some of Southern California’s best chefs as well as award-winning restaurants and iconic dining establishments. My father works in the restaurant industry on the produce and seafood distribution side, and he sparked my passion for the hospitality business. Growing up, I would tag along with him to work on weekends. He’d take me around town into various restaurant kitchens as he met with the chefs. I was fascinated by the culture, chaos, passion, and product produced by the kitchen. From a very early age, I knew I wanted to be involved in the restaurant industry.
At 19, I got a job at a communications firm that specialized in restaurants. It was then that I discovered my second passion — public relations. I worked there for four years and loved the work I was doing. But the company provided no room for growth, and I was told I had hit my peak in public relations. I knew I was destined for more. So I quit and started Outshine Public Relations. I was 23 years old.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
My company was recently named one of America’s Best PR Agencies by Forbes. Only 200 agencies across the U.S. were included. It is such an honor to be included in the list.
Since I started Outshine, I’ve had many big-name brands, nationally recognized chefs, and celebrity restaurateurs reach out for representation. It never gets old, and I still have these “pinch me” moments when I receive an inquiry from a big potential client wanting to work with my firm.
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?
Oh, I’ve learned many mistakes in this journey — some were funny, others not so much. Perhaps the funniest mistake I made being was too busy to eat breakfast…and lunch… and dinner on an important day. I had back-to-back meetings all day, so I kept my hunger at bay with a constant cup of coffee in my hand. That evening, a client had invited me to be a guest at an elite formal gathering for the launch of a luxury automobile brand they had partnered with. Towards the end of the event, I enjoyed a champagne toast and immediately began feeling dizzy. You can probably guess what happened next. I fainted. Fortunately, someone was there to catch me. I didn’t fall, but my champagne flute fell from my hand, spilling and shattering all over a 1 million dollars exotic car. Paramedics were called, and I spent the remainder of the event being evaluated by first responders. I went home mortified and ate a big bowl of pasta.
Fortunately, I have a great relationship with that client to this day. While losing consciousness is no joke, we laugh about it now, and he always jokes about feeding me croissants to make up for any meals I may have missed that day.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Outshine PR represents an all-star roster of award-winning clients. Some of my chefs have decorated careers boasting Michelin stars and James Beard Award nominations, among other accolades. Many are expanding to additional locations in new markets.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
1. Imposter Syndrome is real, but it’s also a complete delusion. When I left my job to start my company at 23, the transition wasn’t easy. I struggled for years with this feeling of illegitimacy. I feared EVERYONE thought I was too young, too inexperienced, and too uneducated to own a business. Even though I was scoring major media placements for my clients in national publications like The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Forbes, I still couldn’t overcome this relentless, all-consuming feeling of inadequacy. There was no a-ha moment for me. But the feeling “I’m not enough” slowly disappeared. The bigger risks I began taking, and the more I pushed through my fears, the more I realized that my fear of inadequacy was no more than a little lie.
2. Mentorship will help you move mountains. My mentor is the incredible Jen Berson of Jeneration PR. Her mentorship has helped me escalate my business into an incredibly powerful and profitable agency. The old saying goes: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.
3. Get paid upfront. This is an industry-standard, but early on, I didn’t do this — and it was a costly lesson I had to learn. I let some clients get months behind in their payments — some invoices were never paid. It’s disrespectful, and no one deserves to be treated that way in business. Invest in having a lawyer draft you a contract that lays out the terms of your working relationship. That way, there are no grey areas.
4. Vulnerability is power. Sometimes, you need to push through insecurity to get to authenticity — this takes work. But being vulnerable with others is a powerful place to be. When you’re vulnerable, you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
5. Yes, you need an accounting system. Believe it or not, no one told me this! Let’s just say that when it became tax season for year one, I was drastically unprepared.
You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?
Listening. I believe genuine, intentional listening is the single most important and most effective tool in networking.
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?
Word of mouth. Work hard on behalf of your clients and media colleagues, and they will become your best salespeople. Not only are these referrals a true testament to my work, but they’re also my biggest source for ideal new business. My entire business has been built through word of mouth and client/media referrals.
I also attend every possible industry and community event. Having a presence at events shows my clients and potential clients that I am present, I am informed, I care, and I have my finger on our industry’s pulse.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
I read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Twice. This book completely shaped my belief in the power of listening.
Code of the Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani taught me how to reprogram my mindset from Imposter Syndrome and hack goal setting for mind-blowing success.
Other books that have influenced my career in public relations include You Are a Badass and You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero, Start With Why by Simon Sinek, and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. When I have writer’s block and find myself in need of a little inspiration, I flip through gritty tell-alls like Kitchen Confidential and Medium Raw by the late Anthony Bourdain. God, could that man write!
I am also a huge fan of the Forbes podcast The Failure Factor hosted by Megan Bruneau. The podcast interviews successful entrepreneurs about their past failures and how those experiences helped shape them into the powerful titans and thought leaders they are today. These stories are so raw and real, but also so empowering.
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 found that having a grateful mindset is one of the most powerful states of being.
When a client or media colleague tells me they appreciate me or my work, nothing makes me happier or feel more fulfilled.
If you want to test how powerful this is, I encourage you to do this: Express your gratitude to three people in your workplace or industry. Simply tell them why you’re grateful for them and watch the magic unfold.
And on a personal note, I plan to start a rescue and rehabilitation organization for dogs who’ve suffered from abandonment or abuse.
This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.