Relationships are key—nurture them and put people first.
Anna Crowe is founder and chief executive officer at Crowe PR, responsible for company vision, client strategy and campaign execution. A public relations and branding expert, Anna has more than 14 years of integrated marketing communications experience, working with iconic brands such as Capitol Records, AT&T, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Sony, Marc Jacobs, Kenneth Cole, and Jennifer Lopez, to name a few. Prior to launching Crowe PR, Anna served in senior management roles at Havas Formula PR and Gable PR, as a senior marketing manager at AT&T and as director of sales and marketing at Los Angeles-based EMI Music Marketing/Capitol Records. Prior to relocating to the West Coast to pursue her MBA in 2005, Anna worked as a senior marketing analyst at global cosmetics leader Coty Inc. in New York City. She started her career in public accounting as an auditor for Deloitte.
Where did the idea for Crowe PR come from?
I’ve always loved the idea of creating and knew early on that I wanted to build something meaningful from scratch. I spent most of my working life in corporate America and learned a great deal about businesses and brands from incredible people. But, it wasn’t until I pursued and finished my MBA that I realized I wanted to create a company that helped brands tell their stories, that’s made up of incredible professionals. At the time, I didn’t know what that would look like, but after spending a few additional years in marketing and PR, working closely with companies in different industries, I saw an opportunity to create a company, built around authenticity and creativity—both of which are important to me.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I often wish I had a typical day, but then again I find I am at my best when constantly shifting gears. While there isn’t a typical day per say, most of my work days include nurturing or forming new relationships with clients, media and influencers, drafting or editing media materials, meeting with the team—anything from brainstorms to goal setting and developing new ideas, setting goals, reviewing progress, strategizing on next steps and business growth, or celebrating wins. Then, heading home to spend time with my kids, husband (and pets) before hopping back online with a hot cup of tea (or glass of wine, depending on the day). Other nights include social gatherings and networking events or chauffeuring kids from point A to point B. Every once in a while, I manage to squeeze in a workout and a new book, but those nights don’t happen as often as I’d like.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I’m the kind of person, who is constantly seeking an outlet for my thoughts—be it on paper, laptop, a colleague or a friend. If I don’t communicate an idea—big or small—it will most likely not be realized. I’ll get sidetracked, often by a new idea, etc. So, the first step for me is either writing it down or, better yet, sharing it with someone. If I really believe in that idea, I will find a way to realize it sooner than later—no matter what it takes.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
As technology continues to evolve and consumers are now getting information from a variety of sources, it’s essential for PR practitioners to be on top of pretty much every avenue that attracts customers to brands and helps with purchase decisions. While keeping up with new social trends and media landscape may seem daunting, I find the opportunity really exciting. I think it provides a great chance for us to not only deliver on what truly matters to our clients, but also stay relevant and differentiate ourselves. Plus, it ensures we are continuously learning and pushing ourselves to be better and that’s pretty good too.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Starting early is key. I am a morning person and wake up filled with thoughts, ideas and strategies. If I don’t jump into work right away, I start losing momentum. So, I’ve learned that I’m better first thing in the morning, while parts of the world are still asleep. This helps me start the day in a productive way and get ready for the day.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
In high school, I had a summer job at a telemarketing company. Essentially, my job was to call people to try to sell magazines—this was pre-mobile phones. As may be expected, most people did not want to be disturbed at their home with magazine offers. While we had a good script, it was still pretty common to be yelled at or hung up on, especially if we called customers during dinner hours, which was common. In the beginning, it was a struggle for me to pick up the phone each time, unknowing what awaits me on the other line. In time, however, I got used to objection and was able to turn those objections and negative attitude into sales. I learned how to connect with strangers over the phone and how to create value of the product we were selling. I was named salesperson of the month during my second month on the job, which was a pretty big accomplishment at the time, considering I was 16 and it was my first sales job.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I’ve been fortunate to have my experiences, to learn valuable lessons and meet people who have shaped my life and career. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t made the choices I made in the past.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I think I have a pretty good balance of optimism and realism, but if I had to put them head to head, optimism would prevail. I think, as an entrepreneur, you can’t lose sight of your positive outlook. Yes, mistakes will always happen and things and people may disappoint you along the way – and you’ve got to work hard to stay on track and learn from mistakes – but you can give up or think the world is falling apart over small things. Staying positive, no matter what challenges come your way is essential. Also, relationships are key—nurture them and put people first.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Finding the right people has helped us grow tremendously. We are service providers, which means customer experience and the people providing the service make or break our business. I’ve been fortunate to find people who share my values, goals and passion to help build our business.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In any business, scaling can be a challenge. There’s always that chicken or the egg dilemma—do I hire more people and then get new business or do I secure new business and hire the right people? In the very beginning, it was the latter. I’ve learned since that without a support team, we may be setting ourselves up for failure. So now, I am always on the lookout for talent and ensure we have a proper team in place before jumping into new projects.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I had an idea for a mobile cocktail—for people living in different cities who want to buy each other a drink to celebrate an occasion, etc. The idea is that you would go online and send a drink to your friend at a selected bar or restaurant. Then, you friend can go into that bar and there’s a drink waiting for them. Cheers!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A down payment on a team bonding outing. I’ve always wanted to try a painting and wine class and doing it with our entire team was one of the best ways to first experience it.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
I download a lot of magazines through their apps—this makes it easy for me to have ready access to news a, specifically stories impacting our industry and our clients’ industries. I’m also a big fan of Dropbox—I just refer to it as our internal server now. I’m sure they will be a time we’ll need to upgrade it, but it’s worked beautifully to-date. I’m able to share jpeg files and work in the same document with the team.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Scaling up. I’m part of the San Diego Chapter of Entrepreneurs Organization (the Accelerator organization), which is based around that book. I’ve already felt the positive effects of that book on my business, and, whenever I forget, I always go back to that book. It’s just the right size to fit in my bag and gets to the point quick.
What is your favorite quote?
“Dream big. Work hard. Also, perfection is unattainable, but if you chase perfection, you will catch excellence.”
- Relationships are key—nurture them and put people first.
- Starting your day early is key. If you wake up filled with thoughts, ideas and strategies, sometimes you just need to jump into getting them on paper right away. This will start your day in a productive way and set you up for success for the rest of the day.
- As an as an entrepreneur, you can’t lose sight of your positive outlook. Staying positive, no matter what challenges come your way is essential.
Anna Crowe on Instagram: @crowepr
Anna Crowe on Twitter: @CrowePR
Anna Crowe on Facebook: @CrowePR
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.