It’s that time of the week again: #GirlBossMonday!
Kristen Ruby is the founder of Ruby Media Group, New York. Kristen is also a frequent on air TV contributor and speaks on social media, tech trends and crisis communications. Read her interview below where she gives great advice on being an entrepreneur and explains the value of experience and internships.
The reason I conduct these interviews is to inspire you, my readers, and fellow PR students to be successful in your careers and business leaders of the future. I have asked the important questions to gain an insight of how these #GirlBosses made it to where they are today, and how we can emulate their successes.
Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.
OC: Hi Kristen! An easy question to start us off (I hope) – What is your full job title?
KR: Founder of Ruby Media Group.
Can you give me a background of your career and education? How did this lead you to be in your PR position today?
I attended Boston University’s College of Communication and majored in Public Relations. I had 13 internships by the time I graduated.
I started my company two weeks after graduating and never looked back. Rather than getting down about the economy, I chose the path of entrepreneurship and created my own career.
How and why did you start your business?
I started my business because I saw an opportunity in the Westchester County market to help business owners utilise social media. We originally started out as a social media agency and have since expanded to personal branding and full service public relations.
How did you go about securing your first clients?
My first client approached me at the gym during a yoga class. They mentioned their business and what they were looking for and I told them I could help them with their social media.
Where are you based? Does your job involve a lot of travelling?
I am based in Westchester County and Wall Street. My job involves being connected to wifi and my phone, more so than travelling.
What does your morning routine look like?
Every single day is different. In the morning I start by going through queries from reporters who are looking for sources. I then research the latest trending stories of the day and go through all of the news. I look for possible angles/tie ins for my clients to provide commentary.
I will then go over to Twitter and see the latest stories that reporters have tweeted to see what topics journalists are writing about. I go back and forth between social media content writing and pitching throughout the day.
What do you find most rewarding and challenging about your role in PR?
I find it really rewarding to see a client get placed. For example, last week we got a dentist placed on Fox 5 NY. This dentist also works with hard of hearing patients – it is very rewarding to help her gain media exposure because helping her means more people can find her – which means she can help others.
I love representing people who are making a difference in the world – we primarily represent doctors/MD’s so this is very rewarding. We are also very passionate about health, so we like getting the word out about medical news/advancements.
The most rewarding part of my day is getting a placement and sending the client the placement link – nothing beats that!
The most challenging part is meeting very strict deadlines and being the gatekeeper between the media and clients. Often we are working with media on very quick turnaround times which can be challenging for doctors if they are seeing a patient.
How do you find the right work/life balance?
I still struggle with this! I typically try not to work on Saturdays and Sunday morning – but by about 3pm on Sunday I am back to work again!
What do you wish more people understood about PR?
I wish more people understood the value of PR. For example, PR is actually the secret to great search rankings – which has a direct return on investment for businesses looking to increase exposure and sales. If you want to increase your organic search results, the best way to do it is through integrated digital public relations.
PR is also instrumental to any social media campaign today – posting graphics, photos or videos isn’t enough – people want to see that you are out there in the news and consistently being quoted. It helps to build trust and authority with your patients/clients.
If you were to hire someone for a PR role, what skills and qualities would your ideal candidate have?
Must be a good writer, must have the ability to follow up and secure placements (not just pitch but secure) and must be able to take a campaign from strategy to execution seamlessly.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the PR industry today?
I could go on and on about the convergence of digital and why traditional print is on the decline, but I won’t. The biggest challenge facing the PR industry today is that publicists need an entirely different skillset to be effective.
It is no longer enough to get press placements for your clients. Today, it is expected that you are handling social media, creating graphics, producing video content and handling all of their content creation on company blogs.
If you are only offering traditional press placements, it simply isn’t enough. You need to offer clients a full service approach to handle all of their digital needs. Clients don’t want to work with several different agencies – they want one agency who can handle all of this for them.
Can you give three tips for someone wanting to start their own PR agency?
Test out entrepreneurship while you still have steady income from something else. Entrepreneurship is a difficult way of life – it is not for everyone. Make sure it is for you before you quit your full-time job. It isn’t as glamorous as every #GirlBoss makes it look on Instagram, trust me.
Low overhead – skip the fancy office. Work from home in the beginning – all you need is a good computer and a wifi connection to get started. Don’t waste money on a fancy Park Avenue office – I have spent tons of money on beautiful offices in Wall Street that no one ever visited. My clients want me coming to them – they don’t want to travel to me.
Be prepared to give up everything else for your first few years. Building a business from scratch requires an incredible amount of drive, dedication and focus. If you still want to have an active social life or dating life and expect clients to magically appear out of thin air, this isn’t for you. Your focus needs to be 24/7 on building a business that is profitable.
What advice would you give to a student like myself that wants to emulate your success and make it in the PR industry?
I always recommend students intern as much as possible. For me, having 13 different internships in every facet of communications helped me to narrow down what parts of the industry I wanted to focus on. You can never get enough experience – everything is an opportunity to learn and grow.
PR requires a great deal of writing – if you want to work in the industry, you should focus on honing your craft as a writer. I also think the best publicists have experience on the other side as active journalists – for example, I am a contributor for The Observer.
Seeing the editorial process from the other side helps you to understand how newsrooms work and the editorial process. This is invaluable if you are working with writers every day. You need to understand how stories are pitched to their editors, and the actual process from start to finish.
Thank you, Kristen ♥
You can visit Kristen’s website at www.krisruby.com
You can visit Ruby Media Group’s website at www.rubymediagroup.com
Follow Ruby Media Group on Twitter : @RubyMediaGroup
Follow Kristen on Twitter : @sparklingruby