Teia Harris, Founder of PR Firm Love Publicity shares how “changing her confidence level” transformed the way she managed her business.
Check out her insights on entrepreneurship, personal branding, networking, and more…
Want to know some of the “brain hacks” that you need to develop to successfully run a PR firm (or any business)? Check out my interview with TEIA HARRIS , owner and founder of LOVE PUBLICITY, a boutique PR firm based out of Detroit,Michigan.
Rana Campbell (RC): What inspired you to start Love Publicity?
Teia Harris (TH): [After college], the economy was really bad. I went into corporate America and got laid off. I had no choice. I majored in public relations. It’s all I ever wanted to do. I didn’t want to give up and take a job somewhere else [so I started my own firm].
RC: What are some of the most important things you learned about growing a business when you first started out?
TH: I felt like a failure. I had a hard time closing the deals. I thought that people felt like I didn’t have enough work experience. I felt like a beginner for a long time. Then, I [had a wake up call] and compared myself to my competitors and said, “I’m getting just as much press as they are!” “I’m getting just as much recognition.”
I felt like a beginner for a long time. Then, I [had a wake up call] and compared myself to my competitors and said, “I’m getting just as much press as they are!” “I’m getting just as much recognition.”
I had to change my confidence level. Now I am a go-getter. People know that I am about business. I had to stop the little girl act and be a confident business woman. The challenge was trying to get out of the amateur stage and into the more professional senior stage.
RC: What’s important to consider when thinking about what kind of company you want to start?
TH: I am very particular about the clients that I take on. It’s important that when you represent someone that you should be just as passionate about their brand as they are. If not, It will be hard to contact people and convince people that this is the brand that you want to talk about or feature.
RC: It must be hard running a busy boutique PR firm. How do you manage your workload?
TH: It’s a little complicated. I have sub-contractors. They dedicate as much time as I do to the projects. I do refer to them as team members. Once I feel that my company is billing enough money, then I want to hire them on staff members. I also have interns. I give them hands-on training. I teach them how to do everything because if I can’t hire them [in the future], I want them to go out and tell people they were trained by Love Publicity.
RC: How important is personal branding for the building of your business?
TH: One thing I’ve realized about myself is that I always felt like I wasn’t good enough or I wasn’t’ doing something right. In actuality, I was doing everything right. I just didn’t have confidence. What I ended up doing was writing an e-book called How to Position Your Company to Love Publicity. Teia Harris wrote the book. I took advantage of the Linkedin publishing platform. I have blogs ready to go up. I read PR all day. I read case studies on blogs. I eat, sleep, drink and breathe PR so when people see me and talk to me, they know these things. I brand myself that way. I positioned myself to be an expert in PR.
One thing that people realized is my name is @loveteiab across the board for my personal social media stuff. It’s important for people to know that I am always going to be the same person. It’s important to be cohesive. It’s important that when they think of PR, the first thing they think of is Teia or @Loveteiab.
RC: What’s the best method you’ve used to bring on new clients and pitch new business?
TH: Networking. I realized when you’re good, you will experience this: People don’t want to tell other people about who their publicist is. They want that publicist all to themselves. They don’t want to share who did their PR. [Because of networking], when I give out my card, I hear “Oh, I heard of you!” “I know your name!”. In the past, I would cold call. I don’t have to do that anymore. Increase your network.
RC: What’s the best way for a young entrepreneur to start networking?
TH: Join professional organizations in your field because those people will help you out. They will let you know, “I can’t handle all this work.” You’ll find avenues there that will help build your revenue. Whatever your industry, I encourage them to find out what organizations they have and try to be a part of it and infiltrate. For example, I had this bright idea. I wanted to do PR for liquor companies. I would find out where all the liquor shows would be and I would meet people in charge and I would actually go and email them. [Through that], I ended up realizing I didn’t want to do PR for liquor companies but a smaller company.
RC: What’s the best business advice you ever received?
TH: Have a business plan. It will change your life. It’s a blueprint of where you want your business to go and how you plan on getting there.
Start now. The time will never be just right. I always said that , “I want to build up this part of my company.” What are you waiting for? It was always an excuse.
Start now. The time will never be just right.
For example, I had a logo but I didn’t have a website. I started a blog. It looked horrible. I wasn’t happy with it. I said I’m going to do this in the meantime. It never stopped me. People started emailing me to come out to their events because they saw the Love Publicity blog post. I said if I never started, that would never have given me the fire I needed to take my business seriously and put out something that I would be proud of.
if I never started, that would never have given me the fire I needed to take it seriously and put out something that I would be proud of.
I did that myself. I didn’t want for a graphic designer. I had to do it myself. I had to do stuff on my own.
I also love Russell Simmons’ quote, “When you feel like you aren’t progressing as much, Just do the work and the results will come.”
RC: What have been some Love Publicity successes that you are really proud of?
TH: Working with corporations. When I work with a small business and get a collaboration with New Balance or I partner with Live Nation to do a giveaway with my smaller clients…I feel accomplished. It seems unrealistic until you are actually doing it.
RC: What are your future plans for Love Publicity?
TH: I admire what Ronn Torossian did for 5WPR. At the rate that I’m going, I try to model his company. I read his book. What he did inspires me. I want my company to be on the same level as his. I think that what he did with it is that it’s still a boutique PR agency, but it’s on the same level as Edelman or other major corporate PR firms. I want to be evolving into a company like that.
For the Teia Harris public relations professional brand, I plan on launching a podcast this fall. The target market is entrepreneurs that need publicity and upcoming PR professionals. I am going to do that with a partner. I am also going to regularly post on my personal Linkedin page and do PR blog posts.
What’s one thing you’ve done that has radically changed the way you do business? Share in the COMMENTS section.
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