Time can be a finicky part of life; sometimes racing too fast and other times moving unbearable slow. So far this year has moved faster than others by comparison of how quickly the months have passed but our experiences have been deeply impactful — slowly and deliberately changing our perspective on business, company culture, growth and more. This year our questions have expanded past internal queries to ones that involve how our business fits into the world. Questions like:
How does communications/public relations effect positive change in the world?
How will the industry be redefined over the next 10 years?
How do we educate and equip talent of color with the skills they need to enter a field that has a serious diversity problem?
Building a business means understanding the void we fill in the greater conversation. The need for our specific creativity and diversity will be key components in our staying power as the communications industry grows and shifts. For years we struggled with what makes us different in a market that has become saturated by mere comparison to the dwindling number of journalists and editors, but this year brought us some much needed clarity. We work hard and we have great ideas yes, but what gives us purpose is the fact that diversity and inclusion are embedded in the ecosystem of our company. They are not some trendy concepts that are only referenced for press releases and resource group parties. We are actively building a team that will look like the consumers our clients speak to everyday. We have found our frequency amongst the static.
Below are a few things that we experienced, accomplished and learned over the past ten months as well as what we are looking to focus on in the immediate future. I hope to provide quarterly reports in a timely manner going forward to keep our supporters updated and involved in our growth. If you ever have an inquiry or suggestion do not hesitate to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Now on to the good stuff…
Engaging the Consumer Beyond Press Placements
This year I read some pretty scary numbers and opinion pieces about the future of Public Relations. What if press placement becomes insignificant or worse overrun by sponsored content? It seems far-fetched but these are very real concerns as consumers experience content overload and reporters are literally losing their jobs. One of my main concerns was how to appease our client’s desire for press placement while starting to think about different ways to engage with their desired consumer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Survey, newsroom employment in the U.S. dropped 23 percent between 2008 and 2017. When you run the numbers that means PR professionals outnumber journalists or reporters by a ratio of 6 to 1. That’s a lot of noise for a reporter! In order to drive the engagement and relationship-building our clients needed we had to look past a press hit. We are still learning to navigate the creative waters of the communications practice as a whole but had some early success with newsletter placements, live interviews and videos on Facebook/Instagram and curated Spotify playlists.
How our company progresses in the Communications world is important to us but successful outward growth only comes from building a strong internal foundation. We haven’t formally started to onboard full time employees but have used experiences this year to grow soft skills in management and leadership. We were grateful to bring on Tequilla White as a public relations specialist for a few clients earlier this year and a wonderful group of ambitious women from various backgrounds to help with Talent PR at CultureCon. In 2019 we are excited to bring back our seasonal internship programs but until then we have implemented a volunteer system that allows individuals to volunteer for events and special projects as needed. This opportunity is for the individual who may not have the time or is too advanced for an internship but wants the experience. Our ultimate goal is to provide multiple inroads for those interested in learning more about communications; regardless of their experience level or availability. If you want to join us or know someone who should, please visit our Volunteer Sign Up page.
The Next Generation of Thinkers and Doers
Providing opportunities for prospective interns and volunteers of color is a great idea but what happens when the talent pool doesn’t match the opportunity. In the past we ran some great Summer Internship Programs however I found myself teaching a lot of the skills that I needed my interns to already have in order to complete certain tasks. Of course, there is the old adage that “you can’t learn until you do” but there were inconsistencies in the work ethic and mindset of the individuals I came across that I believed could be fixed with simple mentorship or pre-training. As an answer, I teamed up with our HR consultant Zakiya Nashid to put together an event for interns of color entitled “More Than Grunt Work”. We worked with the NYC Buzzfeed office to host a panel discussion, provide networking amongst peers and superiors, new headshots and LinkedIn/Resume review by seasoned professionals for interested attendees. The room reflected a diverse array of young women and men eager to strengthen their brands in order to find success within the media and communications fields. The concept hasn’t fully fleshed it self out yet but the purpose of the event was for them to understand and gain confidence in their value to a company and learn how to transition from a stereotypical liability to an asset. Positive feedback has pushed us to produce another “More Than Grunt Work” event in Winter 2018 and Spring 2019.
A New Fashion Frontier
After many discussions about the next direction in which our company would grow there was an overwhelming decision to build upon our Apparel & Accessories division. Over the years we have built strong relationships within the fashion industry without key clients to work with those relationships. This quarter we had the pleasure of signing luxury accessories line SSY Designs and womenswear line KEBERO. They are the first of many apparel and accessories clients we hope to work with into the new year and beyond.
End Strong, Start Stronger
We are continually grateful for the support of personal and professional relationships that have aided in the growth of our company in any way. As we continue with the same momentum and gratitude into 2019, below are some ways that old and new supporters can continue to help our company based on three immediate goals we are focused on:
Build Clientele: Introduce our agency to brands or organizations you know that are interested in Communications services. We are currently looking to expand further into Talent, Apparel & Accessories, Beauty & Wellness, Home & Interiors and Tech specifically but are open to all industries.
Increase Brand Awareness: Share our content with your network (sites like LinkedIn and Facebook and social networks like Instagram and Twitter are easy ways to disseminate info about what we are doing with clients, talent and more to a large number of people at once).
Provide Value: Identify companies for us to partner with on our “More Than Grunt Work” intern coaching initiative. We are currently looking for a location and company to partner with for the next event in December.