The fact that I have started writing everything in the format of a press release speaks a lot about where I am coming from. Having spent the past seven years as an entrepreneur in the PR business has definitely defined who I am today.
Being a woman entrepreneur of course has its’ generic challenges but in the world of PR things are a bit different…for the better! If asked to look in the rear view mirror, here is what I have learnt –
1. Professional juggling
As we are naturally gifted to multitask, this particular trait comes in very handy across the different layers of managing a PR outfit. The morning starts with reading the sports pages to see how your team fared in the previous nights’ match to moving on to a watch making workshop and end the day penning a case study on the growing demands for virtual reality in real estate. Throw into the mix a meeting with the office admin on dustbin issues and with the finance team on vendor issues and you end up with a pretty normal day.
And let’s not kid ourselves – this is what we love to do and what inspires us to being knowledge driven by the kind of diversity we are privileged to experience. Each day spent as a PR entrepreneur is different and unique. You learn something new every day!
2. Being human
Being a woman doesn’t really stand out when it comes to the PR industry. While in other professions you might take notice, but many will agree with me that it is equally normal for you to see a man or a woman on the other side of the table as a VP corporate communications of a Fortune 500 firm or a fashion PR guru.
Everyone is quite humane basis my experience and at the end of the day are looking for the next best idea for effective communications. We are human! So are our clients and they do not judge if we are taking a concall from home on a headset while changing diapers (yes I’ve done this!) or sitting face to face in a board room.
3. Empathy works
Another trait that comes in handy is being able to empathize across levels. That client who is giving you nightmares probably is struggling to define his or her role in a larger organization that does not understand PR. That employee who is slacking off is probably just not meant to be working in that industry and needs a second chance. I’ve found this to be an important aspect to have a good and mutually respectful relationship with clients and employees alike.
4. Collaborations work
Why compete when you can collaborate. I firmly believe there is enough good work out there for all the talent present in the industry. WordsWork has been built on effective collaborations from within the industry as well as related fields.
Close to 70% of our business in sports comes from sports consulting firms who prefer to work with us as a PR partner. We have in the past and continue to work as expert partners in the areas of sports and luxury.
Regional partnerships also work well. Some firms are extremely effective for their regions and it will always make sense to work with them while you can offer back presence in your regions of strength.
5. Be focused and dive deep
Being a woman entrepreneur and young mother I would count the past seven years as realistically 3.5 years of the maximum potential one could achieve had we chosen to be a full service firm across sectors. So the best thing to do is choose a specialization and remain focused, deep dive into it and achieve that seven years of growth despite a comfortable work life balance.
We strategically chose to be boutique and specialized to build credible value in our chosen domains and grow that to national as well as international attention from clients we aspire to work with.
6. No labels
When WordsWork started out, there was the much expected self-doubt. Who will take a 28 year old woman with five to six years of work experience seriously? No associations with bigger firms and no big clients.
We all start somewhere and in PR – it doesn’t seem to matter at all! If your ideas are good and you implement them well while truly embracing the purpose of the campaign – no label is needed. Your vision and passion will shine through your actions.
With our eyes closed tight WordsWork made its first big pitch in 2009 and the roller coaster ride still goes on….
7. The tortoise always wins
As I look back and then ahead, the vision is clear with our feet firmly placed on the ground headed towards being bigger, bolder and better.
As women in PR, we have the luxury to have intelligence before it hits the press, to innovate and tell compelling stories and most importantly to build and be part of an industry ecosystem that is humane, fair and unbiased.
Neha Mathur Rastogi, is founder of www.wordswork.in. WordsWork completes seven years as a PR start up this week.