Everything I Learned About Being a PR Agency CEO, I Learned from The Beatles
A personal memoir from Preferred Public Relations CEO Michele Tell
After three decades of developing and implementing public relations and marketing campaigns, it finally hit me: Everything I have learned about being a CEO at a Public Relations Agency, I learned from the greatest band of all time – The Beatles.
- I Want to Hold Your Hand – Build trust. As an outside public relations consultant, the most important partnership is the one between client and agency. Trust begins at the first meeting. It’s built through honesty, diligence, follow-through, creativity, and consistency and is sealed when the agency delivers measurable results – all through continual communication, leading your client (holding their hand, metaphorically) towards the quantifiable business goals with forward-thinking momentum.
- The Long and Winding Road – Next, perhaps the most critical stage in a public relations campaign – writing a high-level strategy campaign. I often tell my team, put the time and effort in the front end, and by that, research and put together the most comprehensive, targeted marketing plan as possible. It’s a long and winding tedious process with so many new ways to incorporate integrated marketing platforms, which pop up daily. Focus. Remember, the long and winding road should always lead you back home – straight to your established benchmarks and objectives.
- Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds – Look at your PR and marketing plan from many perspectives, different points of view, and with a unique approach – maybe even through kaleidoscope eyes. You might just find a hidden gem that once was a single line item on the plan, but can somehow be turned into a full-blown micro-campaign that by itself can take a viral spin on its own.
- A Hard Day’s Night (You may not need to pull an all-nighter) – Stop spending endless nights racking your brains to write a Pulitzer Prize-winning press release. Your clients want coverage and nowadays, a fact sheet, a bullet list of news angles and talking points, or a single statement is enough to rack up the coverage.
- Don’t Let Me Down – I am forever thankful that over the years, we hired some of the brightest PR practitioners to work with and grow our agency. Select your employees wisely; they are an extension and a reflection of your clients’ brand, as well as a PR ambassador for the agency – and the industry at large.
- Can’t Buy Me Love – I may not have a lot to give but what I got I’ll give to you… Since the surge of the complex marketing trio of owned media, paid media and earned media, money may not be able to buy love, but it can certainly set up your campaign to drive maximum shared media (engagement, organic, viral, word-of-mouth, shares, likes, etc.) When buying media, ask for more “love” than initially offered; you might be surprised at the extra ink, television interview time or additional online placement you may receive.
- Goodbye. – Hello AOL. Goodbye AOL. Hello MySpace, Goodbye MySpace. Hello Vine, Goodbye Vine. Hello Facebook, Goodbye Facebook. Hello – whatever’s the next big social media trend… Change is inevitable.
- She Came in Through the Bathroom Window – Sometimes you need to use unconventional avenues to gain access and notoriety. AKA: The PR Stunt. During the past two decades, the team at Preferred Public Relations has helped implement several Guinness Book of World Records – The World’s Largest Shrimp Cocktail, The World’s Largest Margarita, and the World’s longest “tush” line with showgirls. We have delivered live fish to newsrooms, turned a resort-hotel iconic water feature green for St. Patrick’s Day, and once, we shut down an area of the busy Las Vegas Strip so a horse-drawn carriage could magically usher in the honorable French wine, Beaujolais Nouveau. We have orchestrated many lighting changes on mega-resort buildings – once we turned a major hotel red to signify wine, and another pink to support Susan G. Komen. And more, we utilized a 12-foot boa constrictor instead of using a boring red ribbon and oversized pair of scissors for an actual ribbon-cutting ceremony photo op. No, we did not cut the snake; but we cut through the clutter into newsrooms and our media coverage went through the roof.
- Paperback Writer – At the end of the day, public relations, social media, advertising, and marketing all comes down to crisp, thought-provoking messaging. Words. Keep writing. Keep reading. Keep editing. Learn and use new vocabulary words daily.
- Magical Mystery Tour – Visuals are worth a million shares. And sometimes far out graphics and sleek photography take on a magic and mystery all of their own. Think visually when you write your message, press materials, online content, blogs and pitches. Never post verbiage without a visual.
- Octopus’s Garden – We wish there were only eight arms (options) to choose from but with so many measurement arms waving online – it’s hard to keep up with the newest form. But it’s your job. Make sure your agency keeps up with the latest of web analytics, social media tracking, algorithms, raw and real time data collection, click tracking, and demographic reports, etc. This information is beyond valuable and guides marketing efforts towards the better understanding of customer behavior habits and customer buying habits. Always keep copies of your references as a back-up, just in case.
- The Fool on the Hill – With the vast amount of online references available at your fingertips, don’t forget to research and find at least three sources that match your fact. At least three. Incorrect facts and botched up information can never bode well for building trust with the client, the media and the customer base.
- Strawberry Fields Forever – Have you heard? …Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see… We are created with two ears and one mouth – learn to use the ratio. You will gain knowledge, assess, and really comprehend more by listening than any other sense. Your clients are passionate about their company, retail product, service or innovation – listen to what they have to say. Listen to the viewpoints of the company employees. Listen to your own employees. Listen to the customers, and listen to their praises AND complaints. When we embrace the art of listening we come to understand on a deeper level what is important to clients and the media. Listening uncovers buried treasure that we may have never heard or noticed before.
- Yellow Submarine – Dive into the deep waters of LinkedIn – with so many ways to outreach and introduce yourself to potential customers – worldwide. Don’t be afraid to submerge yourself into this phenomenal platform – write articles (like this one), share valuable business news, reach out to potential customers, or distant peers to learn of best practices, post your wins and successes, and ask for guidance and help.
- Let It Be – This is my personal philosophy on just about everything in life except for remembering to update the “about” and “the company” sections on all social media platforms. In today’s world, we must engage regularly and keep our followers, friends, and viewers up-to-date with the latest information or we will lose credibility. The day a client wins an award, or a big announcement happens, all the social media platforms should be updated, simultaneously. It’s an easy task but time and time again the basic sections – which tend to be most visited – are the last to get attention.
- Get Back – Get back to basics. Love and respect your employees. Let them know how much you appreciate them, often. Personally, having had such a golden opportunity to be a mentor to so many young and impressionable public relations professionals has been a highlight and the grounding element of my long career. I have learned to give them the space to be creative, the voice to be heard, room to question themselves, and most important, an open door to question me. I hope sometimes they think about Preferred Public Relations as fondly as I think of them.
- Penny Lane – A penny saved is a penny earned, or more importantly, a potential term-extension of your contract. Don’t nickel and dime your clients by ridiculously up-charging supplies, subscriptions, tools or time. Focus on the results. If the results are there, the contract will be there.
- Ob-la-Di, Ob-la-Da – Don’t forget to be silly. Laughing creates Inspiration. Inspiration leads to Innovation. Innovation leads to Creativity. Creativity connects to Passion. And Passion leads to Success. We all know that … la-la how the life goes on. Just don’t forget to giggle along the way.
- Yesterday – I must be dreaming. I see myself typing a press release on a computer. I need to print out 300 copies on the copy machine, of course there is a paper misfeed, and I spend 20 minutes trying to locate it. I fold each one and slide them into 300 #10 envelopes. I get three paper cuts. I print off 300 mailing labels, and lick 300 stamps and place on the envelopes. I leave my office and drive five miles to the closest post office, and drop the envelopes in the outside mailbox. Three days later, I am sitting in my office staring at my push-button phone in hopes that it rings with a journalist calling to chat about the press release I mailed three days ago. Yes, that was most definitely, Yesterday.
And I believe in Yesterday… My love for The Beatles is endless, and every time I hear any of their everlasting songs, a tidal wave of chills, nostalgia, and memories cover me from head to toe.
My matching black Shih Tzus are named Lady Madonna, Lucy Diamond and Eleanor Rigby, and my name is Michele, thanks to my hippie parents. I am missing some of my favorites in this article like Hey Jude, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and I Am the Walrus, but I am thinking, perhaps this article might need a sequel someday. Until then, I will be hearing a montage of these in my head today while I am at the office. I’m curious to know, which one will you be replaying in your head all day?
Michele Tell is the CEO of Preferred Public Relations, a public relations and special event agency located in Las Vegas. At Preferred Public Relations, we Push the PR Envelope® by blending strategy & creativity to drive measurable ROI and visibility for our clients. Opened in 1999, Preferred Public Relations has grown from a home-based business handling mostly resort and F&B clients to a mid-sized agency that widened its scope to handle gaming, financial, legal, entertainment, travel & tourism, meetings & conventions, business development, transportation, real estate and crisis communications. Recently, the agency expanded with a sister company, Constellation Catering, a licensed liquor catering company in Las Vegas, Nev. www.preferredpublicrelations.com