Media Chicks Rocked the House

Jessica with XO Group's Carley Roney

Jessica with XO Group’s Carley Roney

There are tons of events geared towards women–from conferences to panels to rallies. While we love the idea of doing something specifically for a female audience, we noticed a few years ago that there weren’t many events with no other agenda than to connect cool women with one another. With that goal in mind, we started a semi-annual cocktail party called Media Chicks Mixer–and, because we live the world of communications, we focused on women who work in media and public relations across industries, from fashion and beauty to finance and design.

Last night, we co-hosted our latest Media Chicks Mixers along with Carley Roney, co-founder of XO Group (which owns The Knot, The Nest, The Bump and other popular websites) at their gorgeous, sleek offices in the Wall Street area of Manhattan. (I ran PR at The Knot back in their startup days and, boy, do I wish they had been in this space then!)

 

Unfortunately, Meryl was sick and had to sit this one out (we missed her dearly!) but we had a great turnout, with attendees hailing from CNBC to the New York Post, Hearst to GoogleAnn Taylor to Lippe Taylor.

Lots of chatting going on at Media Chicks (with one rogue guy...)

Lots of chatting going on at Media Chicks (with one rogue guy…)

It was a night of good champagne and great conversation–those who already knew each other got to catch up and others made brand new connections.

Lots of bubbly, compliments of Meryl's fab clients

Lots of bubbly, compliments of Meryl’s fab clients

Special thanks to XO Group for hosting the event (their amazing views of the Brooklyn Bridge were a special treat) and to those who donated great beauty and fashion giveaways and raffle prizes, including Bliss, Boots, FLOWER, Fred Segal, Elaine Turner and Strivectin.

Jessica, L2 PR's Letena Lindsay and Masthead Media's Julie Hochheiser Ilkovich (we all used to work at Hearst together)

Jessica, L2 PR’s Letena Lindsay and Masthead Media’s Julie Hochheiser Ilkovich (we all used to work at Hearst together)

Jessica with CNBC's Jennifer Zweben

Jessica with CNBC’s Jennifer Zweben

 

Google's Andrea Faville and Jessica Kleiman

Google’s Andrea Faville and Jessica Kleiman

Lauren Melone, Dede Brown, Kirsten Segal of the New York Post and NBC's Lenore Moritz

Lauren Melone, Dede Brown, Kirsten Fleming of the New York Post and NBC’s Lenore Moritz

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Hearst’s Lacey Drucker, Google’s PR girls and Ann Inc.’s Sanam Ghanchi

SANDOW's Jessica Kleiman and Misfit Media's Nicole Brydson

SANDOW’s Jessica Kleiman and Misfit Media’s Nicole Brydson

XO Group's cool cafe
XO Group’s cool cafe

 

Marni Raitt of DiGennaro & Partners, BYOBP co-author Jessica Kleiman and Emily Blumenthal of Handbag Designer 101

Marni Raitt of DiGennaro & Partners, BYOBP co-author Jessica Kleiman and Emily Blumenthal of Handbag Designer 101

Volunteering: How Helping Out Helps You Stand Out In the Workplace

Photo credit: www.careways.org.au

Last week was National Volunteer Week, an annual event that, since its inception in 1974, has raised awareness about the  growing role volunteerism plays in strengthening communities. But did you know that it can also help you stand out in a good way in the workplace?

LinkedIn recently shared that 1 million members have added charitable causes to their profiles and pointed out that over 60 percent of those members are Millennials who highlight their volunteer efforts as a part of their professional identity.

Some might argue that they can’t afford to work for free, but here are a few ways in which volunteering can help you land your dream gig:

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Tips from the Trenches: Q&A with Social Media Week Founder Toby Daniels

“Be purposeful in what you do. Think about the why of every action you take, every piece of communication you share and every interaction or new relationship you forge.” — Toby Daniels, Founder, Social Media Week

When we met Toby Daniels, founder & executive director of Social Media Week (SMW), and CEO of Crowdcentric, we were instantly impressed with his vision of how the world could be better connected through the power of social media — as well as live interaction – and wanted him to share some of his wisdom with us here.

Since Daniels founded Social Media Week in 2008, it has become a major global conference reaching more than 100,000 people in 26 cities around the world, aiming to connect people and brands around emerging trends in social and mobile media. In order to build SMW into what it is today, Daniels and his small team have done a great job leveraging word of mouth – and, of course, social media – to spread the gospel worldwide.

SMW 2013 kicks off on February 18 in Copenhagen, Hamburg, Lagos, Miami, New York, Paris, Singapore, Tokyo and Washington, DC. Join the worldwide conversation by posting on your own social media platforms with hashtag #SMW13.

 

When you first started Social Media Week, how did you promote it to the world?

Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and outreach through my personal network were my primary outlets. One of the most important things I did early on with SMW was establish an advisory board of key influencers, community leaders, academics and luminaries in the emerging media and technology space. When we announced the conference in early 2009, they were a key factor in helping to get the word out.

Since then we’ve refined our approach, but even to this day, our most effective form of promotion is through our community, which in four years has grown to more than 100k professionals worldwide.

 

What’s the best PR advice you’ve ever received?

Two slightly conflicting pieces of advice:  1) No one does PR better than you and 2) Let your community do your PR for you.

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Tips from the Trenches: One-on-One with Emily Blumenthal, CEO/Founder, Handbag Designer 101

“Be aware that the person you are speaking with has no time for you until you prove you can give them something they might need or want, so having your elevator pitch ready is always a must.” — Emily Blumenthal

 

Fashion entrepreneur Emily Blumenthal

Emily Blumenthal never went to design school. But that didn’t stop her from creating a line of handbags that she singlehandedly got into Bergdorf Goodman, Henri Bendel, Bloomingdale’s and finally to QVC. Add to that teaching Fashion Marketing at Parsons The New School for Design and running a business helping burgeoning accessories designers get their handbag lines off the ground and into major retailers across the country.

In addition, Blumenthal created the Independent Handbag Designer Awards, an internationally respected design competition, runs online resource HandbagDesigner101.com and authored “Handbag Designer 101,” a book to help designers create the next “It Bag” and a viable business to go with it. The woman is BUSY.

In Be Your Own Best Publicist, we interviewed a number of smart, interesting people on how to build a brand and stand out. Just in time for New York Fashion Week, we recently talked to Blumenthal about how she launched her brand and her advice for other entrepreneurs trying to break through the clutter with limited time and resources.

 

Why is it so important these days to stand out in the workplace?

The market is so incredibly oversaturated. It is key to stand out since internal competition is fierce, especially in markets that are so sought after. Proving your value is a must as that will translate into more power, responsibility and eventually dollars in your pocket.

 

What’s the best PR advice you’ve ever received?

When I was starting out and wanted to get into television, a buyer pulled me aside and said, “You would never open a clothing store if you didn’t know how to shop.” In other words, make sure you know how to buy before you can sell. I have used this in every step of my career; I try to get behind the mindset of those that I am pitching and to address their needs before I even begin to tell them anything I am working on.

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Tips from the Trenches: One-on-One with Kelsey Recht, CEO, VenueBook

“Get people talking.  People have a lot of interesting things to share.  You might discover an unexpected connection.” — Kelsey Recht, CEO, VenueBook

 

Ever try to book an event and end up calling around to dozens of places, trying to get someone on the phone to check dates of availability, budget, menu, capacity, etc.?  It can be extremely time-consuming and often fruitless. Well, Kelsey Recht, founder & CEO of VenueBook, has a simple solution: create an online platform that enables corporate event planners — or regular people — just looking for a party space to search all of those things and more in one place.

When we saw Recht pitch her idea at a NY Tech Meetup Women’s Demo Night a few months ago, we knew she’d be a rising star in both the technology and hospitality worlds. While VenueBook just launched in New York City, the company plans to roll out its platform to other markets around the country over the next year. We interviewed the founder of what she calls “an OpenTable-like platform for finding and booking event spaces” about launching a brand, standing out in your career and creating buzz.

 

Why is it so important these days to stand out in the workplace?

The harsh reality right now is that the economy is not strong. Jobs are hard to come by. If you have one, you need to do your best to excel and make a name for yourself.

What’s the best PR advice you’ve ever received?

Do your homework on reporters and what they cover first. Half of the battle is knowing the right person and what angle to take with them.

What are your top networking tips?

Get people talking. People have a lot of interesting things to share. You might discover an unexpected connection.

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Tips from the Trenches: One-on-One with Andrew Hapke, Co-Founder, Zokos.com

“Be 100 percent genuine. If you have to fake it, then maybe you are at the wrong event or in the wrong business.” — Andrew Hapke, co-founder of Zokos.com

Andrew Hapke, co-founder, Zokos

We meet a lot of entrepreneurs, but when we were connected with Andrew Hapke, the young, dynamic co-founder of Zokos.com — a dinner party crowd-funding site or “kickstarter for parties” — we were impressed. We recently spoke to Hapke about his exciting idea as well as the challenges and opportunities involved in getting a start-up off the ground.
What’s the best PR advice you’ve ever received?
Make friends with people in the press long before you need anything from them.  Learn about what they find interesting just by being friends with them.
What are your top networking tips?
Be 100 percent genuine. If you have to fake it, then maybe you are at the wrong event or in the wrong business.

 

What’s your advice for developing a relationship with someone you don’t know?

Find common ground to start the conversation even if its something as small as the weather.

 

What is the one piece of advice that you wish you knew when you were graduating?

Have coffee with everyone you know and let them bring up your career.

How did Zokos get from idea to reality and what prompted you to launch a business?

The idea first originated when the founders took part in a vegetarian dinner club as graduate students at Yale.  We were so excited about the amazing food and all the great people we were meeting that we thought, “Why aren’t people doing this more often?”  From that spark, we went on to found the company as a way to bring down the barriers to entertaining, so that we could host better parties and host them more often.

 

What’s your “elevator pitch” for Zokos and how did you come up with it?

“Zokos is a kickstarter for parties. We believe people are hungry for real life interaction and that food is the world’s favorite reason to come together. Zokos.com helps you enjoy better parties more often by sharing the cost with your friends.”

We spent a lot of time crafting our pitch over the last year, working with mentors and going to pitch competitions.   It’s amazing how many different opinions smart people can have.  We settled on something that resonated with us, but also referenced the crowd-funding industry more generally.

 

What’s the hardest thing about getting attention for a new brand, particularly without dedicated PR support?

Its hard to get rejected so much!  Generally when you first try and get press, it’s when you launch something big for your company, and so you are in a very exciting time in your company’s history. Yet, apparently 95 percent of the press you contacted didn’t think it was that exciting, which can be very discouraging.  For us, we just had to make sure our list was long enough that the 5 percent that came through for us was meaningful.

 

What’s your advice for helping your brand stand out against the competition?

Have a really clear idea of why you are different, and which group of people would care about that difference.  Start with that small group, and let them help you build your story so that as you grow, you have a genuine identity that fills a real need.

Creating Buzz on a Budget: Our #SXSW Bid to Help Start-Ups Stand Out In A Good Way

You have a great idea, a website, a business plan and maybe even some funding. Now what? It doesn’t mean anything unless people are talking, sharing and buzzing about your brand.

For most start-ups, publicity typically falls to the bottom of the expenditure list. Yet, in this day and age, with so much competition for coverage and attention, it can be the thing that connects the dots, raises your profile and attracts consumers, advertisers, partners and investors.

That’s exactly why we’ve proposed a session at SXSW (a nice follow-up to our involvement last year) to help start-ups learn how to kick off the drumbeat about their brands through press coverage and social media buzz, even if they are in bootstrapping mode.

Help us help them by voting for our session: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/1680.  Vote and then send us the screen shot of your vote online —  you will be entered to win a signed copy of our book. (Winner chosen at random.)

**Added incentive: The person who gets the most of his/her friends to vote for us will get an hour-long coaching phone session with us.  (How to show that your friends voted: They email you the screen shot; you then forward to us at Bestpublicist (at) gmail (dot) com.) **

Thanks – and here’s to being your own best publicist!

Serena’s Olympic Victory Celebration: Learning from The Dance that Became a Distraction

 

Serena busts a move (http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/tennis/highlights-serena-williams-dancing-after-winning-gold.html)


Likely it was simply a moment of unbridled joy — as she told Access Hollywood, “A good moment for her”–  but Serena Williams’ golden accomplishment became tarnished when she spontaneously broke into a  “C-Walk” victory dance — moves tied to gang life in her home state of California.

Of course, the various pundits and people around the blogoshere rushed to weigh in:

It was embarrassing.”

It was just a dance (and the criticism smacked of racism).”

It was inappropriate.”

It was cool.”

No matter what the meaning or intention, the result of the action was the same: It inadvertently shifted the focus from her incredible achievement to a less than stellar image.

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Going Back to College: An Inspiring Lesson on the Future of PR

UM students working on their group presentation

Millennials are often painted as lazy, entitled, impatient and unfocused but a group of college students with whom Jessica recently spent a weekend dispelled all of those stereotypes and gave us hope for the future.

At the first-ever PR Workshop for the University of Michigan’s Communication Studies program, 30 undergraduate students dedicated their entire weekend — giving up their Friday night and showing up at the ungodly hour of 8:30am on Saturday and Sunday (including having lost an hour to Daylight Savings Time) — to get a crash course in the public relations field.  UM does not offer vocational classes — nor did it when Jessica was enrolled there many moons ago — but because so many students have expressed an interest in the PR industry, the brilliant and energetic Susan Douglas, who heads up the department, decided it was worth doing a pilot program that involved alumni in the business sharing their lessons and knowledge with the undergrads.

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How to Finish 2011 Strong: Best Blogs, Books and Bits of Advice

Hard to believe it’s already nearly 2012. The holidays are always a good time to take stock of the past year and your accomplishments so, before you crack open the champagne, you may want to think about your goals for the coming year. Where do you want to go? How can you get there? Who can you rely on to help you? What kind of advice do you need to guide you?

 

As we look back on 2011 and our own accomplishments (most notably the publication of our first book, Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired and Rewarded at Work), as well as our choices and key learnings, we thought we’d share some of our favorite founts of advice from colleagues, fellow career advisors and just plain ol’ smart folks.

While we believe the wisdom imparted in our book and blog posts is helpful to many, we also love learning from others who have interesting things to say about career, creativity and life in general. Here’s our short list:

 

 

Breakdown, Breakthrough by Kathy Caprino: We had the pleasure of serving as fellow advisors with Kathy in a Mediabistro Job Search Boot Camp this fall and were totally impressed with the advice she had to give to the students. Her book, Breakdown, Breakthrough, focuses on why women (though men can benefit from it as well) feel disempowered and teaches them how they can overcome their fears, obstacles and professional crises to find breakthroughs. As someone who spent years in the corporate world and had to navigate her own professional crisis and layoff after 9/11, Kathy went back to school to become a therapist and is now a successful career coach and speaker who draws from personal experience to help others.

 

Jonathan Fields: We don’t personally know Jonathan but Kathy Caprino actually recommended that we check out his blog and we absolutely love it (and then coincidentally saw that there’s an article about him in the January issue of ELLE magazine). He’s a former SEC lawyer turned entrepreneur and author/speaker on creativity, career, play and entrepreneurship who has written two books,  Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love, and more recently, Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel for Brilliance. While we have not yet read either, they are on our reading list for the New Year and should be on yours as well. In the meantime, you can read some great advice, insight and interviews on JonathanFields.com.

 

Lindsey Pollak: Our friend Lindsey is the ultimate expert on Generation Y and her book, Getting from College to Career, is a must-read for any college student or recent graduate, all of whom could use some advice on how to navigate a very tough job market upon graduation. Lindsey’s blog is also fantastic and, though we’re part of Generation X, we glean great career advice from it as well, particularly on how to manage Gen Y employees, which can present its own unique challenges to any boss with young people on his or her staff.

 

College Bound and Gagged: Speaking of college, another great book comes from a lovely writer/self-coined “Stand Up Psychologist” Dr. Nancy Berk, who interviewed us for her radio show this year. College Bound and Gagged is the straight-talking survival guide for anyone (read: parents) who are trying desperately to navigate the pre-college time and remain sane in the process.

Careerideas.com: Kim Styler, who spent years working in the magazine industry, started this resourceful website to provide a behind-the-scenes look at as many careers as possible to help others figuring out their own path to learn as much as possible about what it’s like to work in various industries — such as book publishing, PR, film, HR, technology, etc. There are hundreds of video interviews with successful folks in these fields (including Jessica!) who answer questions such as “Who should or shouldn’t go into this business?”, “What’s your typical day like?” and “What do you like best/worst about your job?” Even though we’re not looking to change careers, we have enjoyed watching many of these videos just to hear more about what different jobs entail. Note: You can watch snippets of all videos for free but if you want to watch the full-length versions, you do have to sign up for a monthly or three-month package, at $14.99/mo. or $29.99, respectively.

And then a few nuggets of year-end advice from us that we hope will help you prepare for a successful and exciting 2012:

Look Back/Look Ahead: Take some quiet time to write down what you thought really worked in your career/job over the past year and what didn’t work as well. Determine what you can do better/differently/more of/less of in the coming year that will make you more efficient and effective in your job.

Be Thankful: Reflect on the moments — both small and big — that made you feel successful in 2011 and the people who supported you, connected you to someone else, and/or gave you positive feedback that helped you stay focused on your goals. Then, send those people a thank you note. It may sound hokey,but they will appreciate it, and you’ll stay top of mind for them in the New Year.

Do What Makes You Happy: Most of us spend more time at work than anywhere else, so it’s important to be fulfilled in what you do. Think about what would make you happier in your career and what changes you might make to help you get there. It could be as minor as telling your staff that you need an hour of “quiet time” each day to focus on strategy and not be distracted by constant interruption or emails. Or, it could be as drastic as switching careers or starting your own company, as Meryl recently did after doing PR in-house and at agencies for several years. Now is the time to take a risk, make a change and figure out how to advance your career — and happiness — in 2012.

Have any New Year’s advice, book or blog recommendations to share? Tell us here, on Facebook or Twitter (@bestpublicist).