We rely entirely on word of mouth to build our business. So we have to be sure we deliver top quality work that more than meets our clients’ needs.
Laura Mecoy is the founder and president of Mecoy Communications, a team of expert storytellers with decades of experience in researching and creating compelling narratives about companies, products, people, causes and more. The firm is a Los Angeles-based network of public affairs, public relations and communications specialists who develop and implement winning communications strategies.
Laura founded the firm to serve a wide range of clients, including law firms, businesses, nonprofits, cities, government agencies, trade associations, advocacy groups, healthcare organizations and scientific research institutions. She works with clients to enhance their existing public relations and marketing programs, launch new ones and solve communications challenges on projects ranging from brand development to crisis management.
With more than two decades of experience in writing and research, she is an expert at partnering with clients to craft and perfect the right messages to be delivered at the right time to the right audiences.
A former award-winning journalist, Laura also brings a unique insight into media relations strategies and provides hands-on media “coaching” that prepares clients for their most challenging encounters.
She’s landed stories and op-eds about clients in publications throughout the state of California and in major newspapers around the country, including the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Time magazine and many more. She’s also secured segments featuring her clients on the NBC Nightly News, PBS NewsHour, CNN, Discovery and History channel specials, and California radio and television newscasts.
In every engagement, Laura brings the same finely honed instincts for understanding and communicating complex topics that she developed during more than two decades as a journalist in Washington, D.C., Sacramento and Los Angeles for The Sacramento Bee and McClatchy Newspapers, one of the nation’s largest newspaper chains.
Laura’s reputation led to her being sought as an expert commentator for the Today show, CNN, Court TV, NPR and other broadcast outlets. The Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs and the Center for Campaign Leadership also sought her expert commentary, while several publications, including the AARP Bulletin, Los Angeles magazine and Money magazine, have hired her to write on healthcare and other topics.
Laura is active in the community, having served as a member of the JDRF-Los Angeles Board of Directors and as the chair of its Public Relations and Walk to Cure Diabetes committees. She served as chair for the first-ever Walk to Cure Diabetes in Long Beach. She’s an avid cyclist who recently completed a 72-mile ride around Lake Tahoe to raise funds for diabetes research. She’s also a member of several professional organizations.
Where did the idea for Mecoy Communications come from?
Taking a page from the presidential, gubernatorial and other political candidates I covered as a newspaper reporter for more than two decades, I launched a “listening campaign” to determine my next career after leaving the news business. I offered to buy lunch or coffee for anyone who could give me advice, and many friends and colleagues took me up on the offer. As I talked to each of them about what they loved about what they did, my next career move became clear: Launching a boutique communications firm would give me an opportunity to build on and expand existing skills, and I would be able to tap into my existing network of potential clients and colleagues.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
No day is typical, which is part of what I love about being an entrepreneur with a great group of clients. While every day starts with checking email and contacting clients, I may be in a client’s office one day meeting with members of the staff, in an onsite TV studio the next day to provide media training to top executives and catching a ferry to Catalina Island on another day because that’s the home of one of my clients. We’re also committed to helping others. So at least one day per week, I take a bike ride to help prepare for the JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes. The last two years, we rode 72 miles around Lake Tahoe, and next year we hope to ride a “Century,” which is 100 miles.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Our ideas start with our clients’ needs, the audiences with whom they need to communicate and the messages that need to be delivered. Once we know those answers, we develop the ideas for the best ways to communicate those messages to the target audiences and then create the vehicles to communicate the messages – whether they be printed materials, videos, photos, social media or traditional media outreach. We’re constantly seeking new ways to tell our clients’ stories.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The growing emphasis on storytelling. Studies have shown people remember stories better than facts and figures, and we are passionate about telling stories that will capture the imagination and move people.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Starting early. I’m often on email before my first cup of coffee, (although some days I should probably wait until the caffeine kicks in.)
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Fast food manager at the Tastee (sic) Burger Drive In. I learned I never wanted to work with food again.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would be more confident of my marketability than I was at the time I started this company.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Meeting deadlines and staying on top of everything – whether it be client emails or mundane business matters. Avoiding being overwhelmed by the multiple tasks associated with running a business and managing clients has ensured we never fell behind or failed to deliver on time and on budget.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
We rely entirely on word of mouth to build our business. So we have to be sure we deliver top quality work that more than meets our clients’ needs. It not only makes us feel good about what we do–it makes our clients happy enough to recommend us to others, hire us when they go to another employer or expand the work we are doing for them. We also go to countless social and other gatherings because that is often where we find old friends and make new ones who will refer us for business. Plus we love a party and a chance to meet new people!
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
We no longer respond to Requests for Proposals because we have found these are not cost efficient.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
We all love custom tailored clothing, shoes, etc. Wouldn’t it be great if the new 3-D printing technology could be used to create custom-fitted attire for all sizes and shapes?
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Dinner with a colleague whose recommendation helped us land a new client.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
Beyond the usual suite of office, photo and graphics software and services, we are constantly working on all the most widely used social media platforms because that is one of the best ways for our clients to reach their target audiences. What we love about them is we can publish our content directly—rather than having to rely on a reporter to rewrite for a newspaper or website. For writers and publishers, Issuu and Contently are great sites.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The Tipping Point: How Little Things can make a Big Difference,” by Malcolm Gladwell. Successful communicators are always seeking those key influencers who make an idea, product or cause go “viral” or spread to a much broader community. Mr. Gladwell has done a great job of understanding the power of audiences, to whom we should be communicating and how we should communicate.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
He’s controversial but Republican strategist Frank Luntz is a genius on messaging. I often look to his book, “Words that Work,” for inspiration in developing messaging.
Many of my colleagues have been enormously influential and helpful with tips on everything from billing to building a business. Among those who have helped me along the way:
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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.