Women In Public Relations
Kris Ruby, CEO of Ruby Media Group, was recently named Women in PR’s “Publicist of The Week.” Here is some advice we wanted to share with other aspiring publicists after 12 years of working in the PR industry.
PUBLICIST CAREER ADVICE
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs and aspiring publicists?
Everything needs to be backed by a contract. This applies to your engagements with clients and also with strategic partners and vendors. Don’t leave things up to chance because you are a trusting person. Get it in writing from all parties in a deal.
There is a difference between sharing how you do what you do vs. what you do. Any time someone asks for ideas, they are usually almost always asking for strategy (and free work!). As PR practitioners, strategy is a key component of what we are selling in our deliverables. Don’t give this away unless you are retained with a signed contract. This includes offering up free PR ideas when you are replying to RFPs. Unfortunately, most PR firms waste hundreds of hours of billable time annually with prospects that are shopping around and have no plan of actually changing agencies or ever retaining a PR firm to begin with.
Qualify the buyer and invest in sales training. Too often, as PR professionals, we get excited when someone wants to work with us. Instead of getting overly ecstatic, we need to properly assess if it is the right fit and ask critical questions such as:
- Is this the right fit for my PR agency?
- Can I secure stellar earned media results for this client?
- Does this prospect understand how the media works or will I have to spend time training them on media relations 101?
If you feel like something is a bad fit, it usually is. Trust your gut and stop trying to go against it just because it would be nice to add another client to your website in that vertical.
Only take on projects that you are truly passionate about. If you don’t believe in it, you can’t possibly do a good job promoting it. You must believe you are the right one to carry that person’s mission and vision from a PR perspective. If you know someone else is better for it because they believe in the product (or the person) more than you do, refer them the business. Life is too short to promote things that you don’t believe in.
Use your PR abilities to help spread more positivity in this world. Whether that is veganism or political activism, your ability to connect journalists with causes that matter sets you apart from others who may not have your PR skills. There are millions of organizations that would kill just to have someone with your PR skillset who could impact change in this world. Take a chance and help them.
Keep investing in industry training. Almost every other profession requires continued learning credits. I believe the public relations industry should require the same.
WOMEN IN PR RESOURCES
Kris Ruby was also recently named PR Girl Boss of The Week by Orlaigh Claire.
Do you dream of working in PR? For more of my top career advice for aspiring publicists, check out my full interview below with Orlaigh Claire.
Women In Public Relations Founder Files Interview
Women’s History Month: She’s The Chief Interview
Kris Ruby, CEO, Ruby Media Group
After thirteen internships at various communications agencies, Kris Ruby, a Boston University alumnus, took on a journey of entrepreneurship and never looked back. Now, after more than fifteen years running her own public relations and social media agency in one of New York City’s most prestigious neighborhoods, the Westchester County native is taking over the public relations industry, securing stellar placements for her clients, and lets us in on why we need to define our own success as individuals and what it really takes to make it as a woman in this ever-evolving entrepreneurial world.
What motivated you to start your own company?
I have been in business for 15+ years. I was motivated to start my own company when I saw an opportunity in the Westchester County market to bring social media marketing services to business owners.
My goal was to create strategic social media plans for businesses in Westchester so they could leverage the new technology to grow their businesses and medical practices.
Fast forward you are now running a very successful public relations and social media firm. Tell us more about Ruby Media Group?
The mission of Ruby Media Group is to build our client’s brands through strategic digital Public Relations, SEO, Content Marketing, and Social Media marketing. We have worked with some of the same clients for many years and our retention rate is extremely high. This gives you the greatest opportunity to build someone’s brand because in PR you need longevity to secure consistent press coverage in the media over time and build a brand properly.
What role do you play as the CEO on a day–to–day basis?
Despite the title of CEO, I consider myself a team member of those that work with me. The more you think of it as a team and less as a structured hierarchy, the better the results are. On a day-to-day basis, I handle client meetings, craft social media content, pitch the media, handle new business development, and secure media coverage and publicity for B2B clients. My focus is on the strategic part of PR campaigns. That is what I love most- connecting the end result to the client’s overall B2B marketing strategy.
What does an average workday in your life look like?
An average workday in my life could be meeting with a client, crafting pitches pertaining to trending news, media relations, crafting social media marketing strategies, increasing community engagement on social outlets for clients, and doing a TV segment that evening on the top tech trend or social media story of the day and sharing my views on it.
You are a regular media contributor and commentator on Fox News and other national TV shows. How did that opportunity come about and what advice would you give to the young lady in business looking to do the same?
My first media interview on TV was when a reporter, Matt Scott, actually found one on my blog posts on Twitter about social media and dating and was intrigued. He sent me a direct message and booked me for a live segment to speak on that topic. I am forever grateful Matt Scott gave me the opportunity. For several years, I would continue to do hits on local TV in the CT market and wake up on weekends at 4 a.m.
Whenever they needed me, I was there. Later on, I connected with someone in the metropolitan market and did my first segment on Fox News. I love the ability to connect with the public and offer the latest insights on social media and tech trends.
My advice for someone looking to break into broadcast journalism:
- Watch the news religiously.
- Figure out what your beat is and what beat you want to cover.
- Write content around the beat on your blog.
- Share it with the right reporters on Twitter who cover that beat.
- When you finally get booked for a media interview, drop everything and say yes.
The media works on short deadlines. You have to be willing and able to work on their schedule. Also, understand that in order to do segments on a national outlet, it could take years of doing segments on a local outlet first. Everything that is good in life is worth waiting for and takes hard work and perseverance.
Women are more worried than ever when it comes to competition, especially as entrepreneurs and we all know that public relations is a highly competitive industry. How do you handle competition and stay focused on growing your company?
There is a lot of competition in the PR industry and in every industry. The agency business is a relationship business. People are going to choose the agency comprised of the people they like dealing with and can see the best results with. You won’t always click with everyone. Sometimes, the client you think is perfect for your firm may actually be better suited for another PR firm and that’s okay.
When it comes to staying focused on growing my company, I focus on the analogy of the window shopper vs. the buyer. When I first started out, social media was relatively new and many people wanted me to consult on social media in the upfront sales process before making a decision to hire me. Others would ask for full-blown marketing strategies and creative ideas in the proposal process. I strongly encourage women not to make this mistake when they are starting. Look for the buyers and not the window shoppers.
What are 3 strategies that brought Ruby Media Group to where it is today?
# 1. Strategic partnerships. From the very beginning, we formed strategic partnerships with the right organizations that helped propel the business forward.
# 2. Show up. When I first started out, I showed up at everything until people knew who I was. Networking is critical for getting your name out there when you are still an unknown entity.
# 3. Focus on working with clients who value what you do. Spend time building relationships with clients that you like working with, and who like working with you. Public Relations is an extremely stressful industry. Work with clients who understand the ebb and flow of the industry and who aren’t looking for overnight fame. The ones who understand the process and get that it takes a while to develop and grow a brand. We work with many family businesses and I have gotten to know these families over the years. If someone doesn’t believe in the process, no matter how many press mentions you get them, it will never be enough because they are evaluating success with a different set of metrics.
# 4. Understand what value means to the client. Take the massage metaphor. You can request a deep tissue massage and say your biggest pain point is in your neck. The masseuse starts doing a great job and working on your leg, but 30 minutes into a 45-minute massage, he hasn’t touched your neck yet. Even though he is good at practicing his skill set in a different area, it isn’t the area you wanted. Similarly, if a client cares about leads, and you keep giving them placements that aren’t driving leads to their practice, no matter how many placements you get them, if the placements aren’t driving new revenue it will never be of value to the client. Don’t go off on your own train. You have to be able to deliver tangible value in the way that the client perceives value, not how you perceive it. Every client has a different perception of what constitutes value; learn it. For most clients, this also changes over time as you reach certain public relations campaign milestones. You need to constantly reassess and tweak your client’s PR strategy accordingly. Always be able to answer the question, “Why did the client hire us?” Even 3 years into the relationship. It will refocus your efforts and bring you back into alignment with their end goal.
The amount of women entrepreneurs are rising by the day over 8 million women-owned businesses in the united states alone, but still, our failure rate is much higher than our male counterparts. What helped you defeat those statistics?
I don’t believe in failure- I only believe in success. If something isn’t working, change course or direction.
Women and Leadership in Public Relations
What are three things every woman needs to make it to the top of her digital PR empire?
- Strong support team around her.
- Have a trusted advisor
- Innovative and adapt.
What advice would you give to a woman that just started her business but doesn’t have a budget for PR just yet?
There are lots of great free tools available for female entrepreneurs. Our blog has great content to learn about Public Relations and also learn how to leverage media mentions or get featured on the news.
My best advice would be to start a blog and define yourself as an expert in a specific category. Over time, you can leverage that content for PR and media exposure which will, in turn, lead to other career opportunities for you.
What is one special highlight in your entrepreneurial career that made you say, “I made it”?
When my PR Agency, Ruby Media Group, secured a feature story for our client and it headlined on Rock Center with Brian Williams and Ann Curry showed up personally to do the reporting on the story. That was amazing.
Can you give our readers one piece of advice that you follow on a daily basis that contributes to your ongoing success?
Have your own definition of what success is and don’t let others define it for you.
Focus on empowering your team.
When I started out, I made so many management mistakes because I never received formal management training. The more I read on leadership and management, the more I realized how wrong I was doing it. I was also fortunate enough to have one employee share her perspective on where the breakdown was and what needed to be changed.
When giving feedback to those that work for you, the feedback should not be how to improve performance on what they are doing for your clients, but how to improve performance overall so it benefits them in their career whether they work for you or another company. The more you make it about the big picture and about the employee’s career vs. their current job, the better it is. Every time I give our performance reviews now, I also ask employees to rate my performance as well. It is important for employees to feel heard, acknowledged and seen.
Learn from your mistakes and most importantly, listen to what your employees and clients have to say. Not listening can cost you valuable employees or your business in the long term!