This interview was made possible by our friends at Guidant Financial:
The leader in alternative startup, franchise and small business financing.
Pace Public Relations (PPR) is a full-service media relations and communications agency. Specializing in television, radio, print and web placements, PPR is the direct conduit for clients with press that they want and need to attract.
As a former print reporter and television producer, PPR’s president Annie Pace Scranton knows what it takes to ensure that each client is effectively pitched to the media. Beyond strategizing an outreach plan, Annie has built a core relationship with key members of the press, and individually fields requests every single day to help fulfill their booking needs.
MO: What inspired you to launch your own company instead of working for an already established firm?
Annie: I just loved the idea of being in charge, and calling the shots. I worked my whole career up to that point in cable news, and there isn’t a lot of autonomy at those networks and shows. I figured if I was going to change fields completely, I might as well go for gold and try to do it myself. I knew that with a non-traditional PR background (e.g. working at a big PR firm), my methods would be different than that of a well-established, larger firm. I wanted to see if I could make a dent in the space first, myself.
MO: What public relations advice would you give a young entrepreneur starting up their first business, especially if their funds are limited?
Annie: It’s pretty crucial to have a financial cushion before going out on your own, or at the very least, a fairly certain back-up plan if the business doesn’t take off. But most importantly you have to be as sure as you can be that there is a need in the space for your product. You need to think about your strengths and skillset, and what you can offer a client that no one else can. As long as you can deliver results, from that point I’ve found it to be challenging, but also something that one can hone into a daily routine. And be prepared to work harder and longer than you ever have before!
MO: What are three trends in the PR industry that you’re excited by?
Annie: The ways of traditional PR are over. So I’m first and foremost excited that there are a core group of former producers who are sole proprietors in the public relations space currently. It’s the new way of doing things. I love when I can work in conjunction with a publishing company to help expand the publicity campaign for a new book. And I’m excited to see where PR can go through social media. There’s a great Facebook page for PR & Marketing Czars, where we help each other, sometimes get new business, and/or help out other publicists on projects. I think it’s important to realize that each one of us has our own specific strengths, and to be able to work together and fill in the gaps where another publicist might not be able to do so quite as easily, is an innovative and exciting process.
MO: What’s the biggest professional risk that you’ve ever taken and how did it turn out?
Annie: When I got laid off from CNBC after Donny Deutsch’s show got cancelled I was offered the opportunity to apply for another producing gig at CNBC that was all but a shoe-in; or I could take my severance and walk. I’m a pretty play-it-safe person but something inside of me pushed me to take the money, along with the risk, and see what else was out there. That was the defining moment that helped launch the first little inkling of an idea that I could one day not only change careers, but also launch my own company.
MO: What are the key elements of putting together a great pitch?
Annie: Know the show or outlet you’re pitching to. Without that, you won’t even get in the front door. When at all possible, create, nurture and maintain relationships with the specific media you’re pitching. Stay on top of the news cycle and try to develop a pitch that is either counter-intuitive or ballsy. It will help your client to get noticed.
MO: If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what business related advice would you give yourself?
Annie: To be patient with myself. Starting your own company does not mean that on Day One you’re going to be profitable or successful, as much as you’d like to be. It’s a process and you need to be prepared for that. Also – everything and anything could be a potential business opportunity. Keep your eyes and ears open at all times. The most random times/parties/people could lead to the best ideas!