It’s that time of the week again: #GirlBossMonday!
You may have noticed #GBM took a break last week due to the Easter holidays (I hope you all ate your body weight in chocolate like I did!) but it’s back with a stellar interview.
Erika Klein is the President and Founder of Shout PR, California. Erika has over 25 years experience in the industry and just like me, Shout PR turned 20 years old this year.
In her interview, Erika tells us how she got started in the PR industry and talks about the importance of networking and interning as it’s how she landed her first two jobs fresh out of college!
Shout PR definitely gives off the vibe of an agency I’d kill to work for in the future. If I ever find myself in California in the near future, I’ll definitely be sending my CV in Erika’s direction.
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 Erika! An easy question to start us off (I hope) – What is your full job title?
EK: President/Founder of Shout Public Relations.
Can you give me a background of your career and education? How did this lead you to be in your PR position today?
I didn’t initially start my career in PR, but the first jobs I had after graduating from college, as well as the amazing people I met in those positions, helped me get to where I am today.
After graduating from Woodbury University with a Bachelor’s of Business Administration, I was hired as a sales rep for Nicole Miller and learned the tricks of the trade, traveling extensively throughout California, Arizona and Colorado. The wholesale part of the fashion business really helped me to develop insight into the importance of having a strong sales team for any product.
After working at Nicole Miller for a year, I transitioned into the media industry and became an advertising account manager at Sportswear International, an apparel trade magazine. I worked there for five years and learned the ins and outs of advertising, the fashion industry, and the publishing world.
I mentioned meeting amazing people that helped me in my career – ready for a change after five years in the media industry, one of the editors I worked with at Sportswear International suggested I interview for a PR account manager position at Orsi PR, an agency in Los Angeles.
I was thrilled when I was hired by Janet Orsi. I remember she called me the “dark horse” candidate – I had plenty of marketing experience, but no PR experience. She gave me a chance and I will always be grateful to her.
My experience at Nicole Miller, Sportswear International and Orsi PR helped me for my next move as in-house marketing director for apparel brand, 26 Red. It was there where I was inspired and encouraged by my boss to branch out on my own.
In 1997, I started Shout Public Relations; naming 26 Red as my first client.
How and why did you start your business?
I was inspired to start my own agency by a former boss, who I worked for as the in-house marketing director for his clothing brand. He encouraged me to start my own public relations agency and offered his brand as my first client.
The thought of starting my own business made me very nervous, but looking back after 20 years, I can’t imagine doing anything else.
do you find most rewarding and challenging about your role in PR?
The most rewarding would be when a client expresses their appreciation and compliments us on a job well done. Who doesn’t like to hear that, right? I make a point to let my team know when they have done a good job, so it would be nice for them to hear it from our client as well. And, fortunately, our clients do give us lots of accolades.
The most challenging part would be managing a client’s expectation. It takes time to secure both product and story placements. Living in an age of immediate gratification, sometimes we know it can be frustrating to be patient – we feel the same – but the placements will come, and thus we need to make sure our clients know from the outset what we are doing, and what it will garner.
What do you wish more people understood about PR?
Another challenge we face is explaining that PR does not necessarily guarantee direct sales. What we do is all about brand awareness, and of course if the consumer and the industry know about your brand, that can help lead to sales, but one is not a direct result of the other, and sometimes that is a difficult concept to explain and for the client to understand.
The ROI (Return on Investment) is about the depth and breadth of a brand – people knowing the quality of the product. The more the consumer and the industry sees your brand’s name out in the various media, the more it becomes “household”, which can eventually help lead to sales.
But at the end of the day, we pride ourselves on going above and beyond to try to meet all expectations from clients – from helping build eCommerce sites to securing placements. One complements the other, but they are not 100 percent linked.
Another aspect is last minute requests – it’s costly, but to get the product into the editor’s hands is of utmost importance!
If you were to hire someone for a PR role, what skills and qualities would your ideal candidate have?
First and foremost, I look for people who like to work in a team environment. This is important when it comes to brainstorming or completing a last minute project. In addition to being a team player, I also want someone who is self-motivated because I’m not a micro-manager. I love for people to take a project and run with it.
With so many moving parts in the PR world, it’s also necessary to be detail-oriented and organised. Lastly, let’s have a good sense of humour – not going to lie, there can be some frustrating moments working in the PR industry.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the PR industry today?
Since the digital world is so fast paced, one challenge is keeping information relevant with the ever-changing market. Everyone wants information more quickly, including assets, and this could be problematic for new brands that may not have a budget for shooting and shipping product.
This can be problematic for communicators, as it inhibits them from getting the job done, causing many missed opportunities.
What advice would you give to a student like myself that wants to emulate your success and make it in the PR industry?
Internships and networking – I was able to secure my first two jobs after graduating from college because I interned at Nicole Miller and Sportswear International while I was in college. So, internships are key.
It’s also important to network and put yourself out there. Even if it means contacting the owner of a company for an informational interview. Yes, it might be difficult and not everyone has the time to talk to you, but there will be people out there who will remember the time when they were just starting out and how important it is to give back.
I think your blog is an awesome start. I’m honoured to be featured in the company of some incredible women in the PR field. Through your blog you are gaining some remarkable information from the experts and in turn you are offering this information to your readers. Already giving back.
Thank you for this opportunity. I wish you so much success in the future.
Thank you, Erika ♥
You can visit Shout PR’s website at www.shoutpr.com
Follow Shout PR on Twitter : @SHOUT_PR
Follow Shout PR on Instagram : @shout_pr
Like Shout PR on Facebook : @shoutpublicrelations