Sometime last year, I noticed something was missing -- I loved my clients and was making strong progress for their brands, but being a solo-prenuer was starting to take its toll. I realized I was feeling lonely with my work. I missed the camaraderie and creative energy that collaborating with a team brings. Plus, the stress of having to have all the answers on my own was weighing on me. I needed an outlet where I could ask questions and bounce ideas.
During a breakfast with fellow PR babe, Lindsey LeRoy, I shared my feelings, and to my surprise, she was on the exact same page. With that, we decided to start a monthly happy hour to bring our favorite professionals together and bring an end to our professional isolation. That was a little over a year ago, and our happy hours are still going strong.
Our meet-ups give us a chance to talk about media shake-ups, express challenges and brainstorm potential solutions, as well as future collaborations in a relaxed (there is lots of wine) environment. The best part? Our happy hours extend far beyond the one month date. The group has now become a database of knowledge, a place to ask questions, and receive help on all types of industry problems.
Thanks to our little group dates, I'm now confident to reach out and meet other PR professionals. These meetings have grown my network, introduced me to new clients, amazing collaborations and new friends! These ladies have been so integral to my success and I'd love for y'all to meet them. As a brief introduction, I caught up with each one to find out how they got their start in public relations and what their favorite aspect of the job is. So without further ado, meet my gals.
Lindsey LeRoy, Account Supervisor at Cultivate PR
How did you get your start in PR? As cliche as it sounds, I actually kind of fell into PR. I studied Merchandising and Business at Florida State and always wanted to work in fashion, specifically on the editorial or visual side. During my last semester of school, I moved to NYC to complete an internship at Seventeen Magazine. I worked in the fashion closet under the Accessories Editor, volunteering for literally every task that was offered, from running errands and picking up jewelry across the city to attending market appointments and assisting on photo shoots (while meeting certain celebrities who were unknown at the time ;)). At the end of my internship, the editor was intent on helping me land a job, and after scouring the city for editorial positions, she suggested considering a PR Assistant role. I'll be honest, I had no idea what that job entailed, but did my due diligence and landed a dream job at BCBG Max Azria Group, diving head first into the PR industry.. and never looking back. That career advice, a suggestion I wouldn't have thought to consider in college, allowed me to experience Fashion Week first hand and gave me invaluable experience in New York City. Now, almost ten years later, I don't regret a thing.
What's your favorite aspect of the job? I love the challenges that it presents. Most people think of the word "challenge" as a negative, but I see it as a positive. I'm an extremely competitive person so one of the things I need most in life is to feel challenged. It also lends itself to feeling more accomplished when I achieve goals. Working at an agency can seem daunting to juggle so many clients, but it also creates a family. I love my tribe!
Follow along at @LinzLeroy
Clarisa Ramirez, Founder & Principal of Small Coffee
How did you get your start in PR? I studied journalism so I knew the difference a good story could make for a person or an organization. The first PR pitch I ever made was to promote a bicycle group I had in college. We landed on the front cover of the local newspaper in Denton, Texas! After college, I worked as a freelance journalist, and have been a freelance journalist off and on throughout my career, so I received a ton of pitches in my life and knew what worked and what didn't -- which has definitely helped. For example, I would get approached by some pushy, amateur publicists who were just overly aggressive and would get upset if I didn't publish something. I knew that wasn't the right approach. I remember a former editor had a terrible taste in her mouth about publicists: she thought most of them were either super stalker-ish or just terribly lazy, but tried to come off as looking busy. I knew that wasn't how I wanted to be, and I try to err on the side of being respectful and professional at all times. Journalists are real people, too! I first started thinking about PR when I moved back to Austin from Chicago because I saw the need for my entrepreneur friends' stories to get told. I had done a little bit of publicity while working in the marketing department for a national nonprofit, so I basically started by doing some free pitching here and there, and then gradually started getting paid for the work. I did it as a side-hustle until I launched Small Coffee in January 2015. At that time, I had one PR client and the rest were social media and content marketing clients. Since then, I've gradually taken on my more PR clients because that's the work I enjoy doing the most.
What's your favorite aspect of the job? What I love about my job is I'm truly able to help businesses I believe in grow and be successful. It's very fulfilling to make someone's dream a reality by being their biggest cheerleader. I also love how I get to meet a lot of different people, ranging from sponsors to photographers to collaborators. I've made a lot of great connection through work, and my job also makes me feel less guilty about meeting people because in PR your network can be your net-worth. I'm a people person through and through.
Follow along at @SmallCoffeeATX
Natalie Paramore, Founder of NatalieParamore.com
How did you get your start in PR? I sort of got into public relations in a backwards way! I was already passionately blogging about food and recipes and knew a lot about the Austin food scene. I had worked with a local boutique hospitality firm on some collaborations before and they had an opening and offered me the job. I didn't know much about PR at the time but getting thrown in feet first was the best way to learn!
What is my favorite aspect of the job? My favorite aspect of the job is the people and companies I get to work with everyday! In my previous career, I worked in a field that didn't have much room for creativity. I absolutely love to work with local, progressive companies who are willing to think and dream outside the box.
Follow along at @NatalieParamore
Cara Caulkins, Founder & President of cara Caulkins communications
How did you get your start in PR? I got my start in PR as an intern at the Chicago office of a large global agency after I graduated college. It was hard to work on 5 different accounts at a time, but the resources of a big agency were extremely beneficial in preparing me for a future in PR. I worked on a variety of consumer products and I immediately fell in love with working on beauty brands which, in turn, led the way for the next few years of my PR career.
What is my favorite aspect of the job? My favorite aspect of the job is the people I get to connect with daily. They say you have to be a "people person” to work in PR and I couldn’t agree more. Whether it is my clients (most of whom right now are female small business owners), the wonderful media contacts I get to develop story ideas with or the colleagues and friends I have made in the industry and get to collaborate with, I love interacting with creative, like-minded people!
Follow along at @Cara.Caulkins.Comm
Callie Neatherlin, Founder at CAP Communications Group
How did you get your start in PR? I majored in Public Relations and had numerous internships while in college. Once graduated, I took a position with a boutique PR firm in Houston. It was a fabulous learning experience that led me to spread my wings and grow in the industry.
What is your favorite aspect of the job? People. I love getting to work with a vast variety of people. Every person and brand has a story and it’s so much fun to learn about and share those stories.
Follow along at @CapCommGrp