Keep on working on your vision every day, and you’ll reach your goals eventually. Everything comes to her who hustles while she waits.
Melanie Marten is the owner of the Berlin based PR agency The Coup (founded in 2010), and Founder of PRontheGO.com.
She consults artists as well as internationally operating real estate investment companies and works as a ghostwriter for German executives.
With her startup PRontheGO.com, she aims to empower founders to take PR efforts in their own hands and spread the news about their ideas, inventions and innovations, even if they don’t have a marketing budget at hand.
Where did the idea for PRontheGO come from?
The idea came when I realised with specialisation in certain industries and increasing PR fees (due to growing market experience) we are not able anymore to take over the PR for emerging artists and entrepreneurs in the creative industry, as well as start ups in seeding phase.
Those entrepreneurs are naturally solo-preneurs (an artist, a filmmaker, a fashion designer, etc.) or working in small teams. Working with dynamic, creative people has always excited me the most. So with PRontheGO, I am creating a way to still work with them, next to my work as a PR consultant in which I more and more specialise in certain industries.
PRontheGO.com is an online-service-portal which delivers prime PR tips and inspiration in a do-it-yourself format. It is a FREE Public Relations initiative for Creative Entrepreneurs.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I do not ever start a day without having clear aims set to approach on that day. I usually plan daily goals well in advance, at latest the night before the next day.
This way, I get up knowing what I am about to accomplish today, and I only leave a few hours to jump into incoming inquiries. I like to work actively on my own schedule, rather than passively reacting to events.
If I accomplish my daily goals earlier than in a usual working day, then I take the rest of the day off for myself as a kind of reward. If the daily goals need longer hours, I am working until late night. So I definitely believe in structured work, but not in fixed working hours. I do not have kids yet, so my approach might change.
How do you bring ideas to life?
With a business idea, my initial step is getting as much feedback as I can. There is power in putting the ideas into words, introducing it a few times, and not only from the feedback, but from talking about it I find some missing pieces that I need to work on to get that idea going.
PRontheGO is a good example for that. The idea came to me two years ago, and together with my team I prepared a pitch to introduce the idea. I took opportunities at local startup events to present the concept of do-it-yourself PR and got lots of feedback to my ideas for the implementation.
Ignore the naysayers. For PRontheGO, there was a woman in the audience who, in the Q&A after my presentation, introduced herself as a PR Consultant and said ‚there is no way you can teach PR via an app or a website‘. This „you-can’t-do-this“ attitude of her actually got me going.
Now when I start working on bringing an idea to life, I do not let anyone interrupt me until there is an MVP, a minimum viable product. From then on, all that counts is the feedback from my actual target group.
What’s one trend that excites you?
That’s a great question! I do have a lot of excitement for new ideas and trends, as most PR people would. But my profession also leads to a lot of insights in trend analysis in different industries, online as well as in society in general. And I have to say, a number of trending topics right now actually frustrate me.
In the online world; take bots and social media advertising. When I send a message to a company on Facebook, chances are a bot is answering. When I receive a comment on Instagram, chances are this could be a bot, too. When starting out with a business, hardly anyone will be shown your Facebook posts to on the Facebook page you just created, unless you pay a lot of dollars for it. Copywriting is done the way Google will like it the most. Algorithms are boosting paid advertisement, content suffers A LOT, and we’re more and more forced to play by the fast lane rules (which are actually a lot like spamming). Your business hardly stands a chance to grow organically.
In society; with Trump and Brexit being right on, my feet covered in plastics when I’m in the ocean in Bali, and a passing Stephen Hawking suggesting humanity would need to find another planet because we will definitely extinguish ourselves, I am left to wonder how beauty vloggers can get this massive attention by applying their eyebrows and lashes.
I do follow the annual announcement of the Pantone color of the year, since it usually comes with a very forward thinking and reflection of society. Why do we love green this year? With the world dying in pollution, we seem to at least aim for a flower pot at home and flower prints on our shirts.
In fact, I am missing specific trends. I am missing a politically charged youth, I am missing activism in the arts, I am missing a confrontation with monopolist companies such as Facebook and Google.
One thing that currently excites me, and I would love it to become a trend, is body language. We have forgotten to read body language, although we actually are capable of doing so intuitively, no matter what our native language is. Mandy Bombard is a body language expert and on her website bombardsbodylanguage.com she observes interviews with politicians and public figures and explains how to read the body signs, e.g. what it means when someone’s eyes go up (digging for memory), wild gestures are denying something or straight faces that try to sell us something. I currently recommend her videos to everyone I meet.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I rate tasks by their efficiency. How efficient is this task in terms of leading me closer to my goal? I focus on getting the most efficient tasks done with priority. There are people I’m working with who cannot hear the word ‚efficient‘ coming from me anymore, since I am praying it.
The good old advice to divide big tasks into smaller tasks is working for me, too. I schedule smaller tasks precisely for each day.
When it comes to product development, I believe in vision statements that clearly indicate where you see your business in the future. This way, the path to get there can be build, and decisions on new features can be done quicker by asking yourself ‚Does this feature align and support the business‘s vision?’.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t compete with yourself in a few years. The success you’re craving for, the person you would like to be, do not let yourself down when you are not there yet. Keep on working on your vision every day, and you’ll reach your goals eventually. Everything comes to her who hustles while she waits.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Every person on this globe should delete their Facebook account NOW.
It is not enough to reduce the interaction on Facebook. We need to make a clear statement that, despite of all the artificial intelligence, data analysis and algorithms that were established to make us addicted to nonsense, we ourselves have the brains to decide on what to spend our time on, put our efforts in, and where to share our data.
I deleted my Facebook account and pages a few months ago, and I am more than happy with this decision. Overall, it leads me to more time. Think about all the times you scroll through Facebook without even consciously realising it. It adds up. I’m taking my lifetime seriously.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else to do?
I keep adjusting the pitch for my business from all the learnings I get along the way. I edit the boilerplate according to the developments I do with my business and I keep careful track of all the platforms my business is listed on to be able to update the information.
I’d recommend to do so to any business owner: keep your company profile up to date regularly, on business directories on- and offline as well as in boilerplates in promotional products and for press inquiries.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
With a beta version live, I started focusing on my stakeholders only and started addressing them where they are.
First, I divided my target audience of Creative Entrepreneurs into the following 12 different categories:
Startup (e.g. tech, e-commerce), Film (film makers, actresses, etc), Fashion (fashion designers, fashion bloggers), Design (product and interior design, architecture), Art (artists, gallery owners), Local businesses, Music (musicians, producers, club owners), Advertising (advertisers, illustrators photographers), Literature (authors and publishers), Fitness & health, Food (chefs, food startups) and Travel.
I defined the target markets based on the importance of the Creative Industries for these markets. My main target markets are Berlin, London and New York to start with.
I made a list for each of the categories of where to find them, e.g. start ups in co-working spaces, fashion designers at Fashion Week, film makers at the film university, emerging artists at young artist fairs, etc.
Then I started collaborations with the different institutions, places and exhibitions to hand out info material such as brochures and flyers or introduce PRontheGO in their newsletters.
When introducing PRontheGO, I always say that I am just getting started, and that I highly appreciate feedback. I myself prefer understatement, and dislike being sold with some buzz words such as ‚disruptive‘.
In a second step I focus on what is it in PR that those Creative Entrepreneurs want? And it is quite clear that they want contacts to the media to gain press coverage and therewith attention for their business. So I started to reach out to all my journalist contacts and asked for their support for Creative Entrepreneurs. Journalists agreed on providing information on how to pitch them as well, handing out their contacts for direct pitches by creative founders.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I am struggling to answer that question. I may have failed a hundred times, but there really is no failure when you get up and continue to walk. That sounds so cliché, but it is true.
I advised one artist I work with since 2012 to start a crowdfunding campaign for his upcoming project related to environmental issues. It failed big time in generating the funding, despite good press coverage. But the artist himself does not see it as a failure. He said this is evidence that there is not enough enthusiasm for environmental topics. His name is Iman Rezai, and in fact he taught me that everything we do is art. PR is my art, he repeatedly says. And I like to think of anything we do in this world as a form of art. Art can be brutal, and the best artworks don’t have to be pretty. But everything there is has its beauty.
I find another good example is to think of Brutalism in architecture. Brutalist buildings are highly functional buildings made out of concrete, and were mostly established in big cities in the 50s. Ugly? Definitely. A failure in architecture? Rather not. They just exist. And everything in existence has its beauty. Now there are fan clubs for Brutalist buildings and those buildings become the rough background of fancy shootings.
I suggest you put your ‚failed‘ projects in the category ‚Brutalism‘.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I would love a startup who starts an affiliate program that connects to crowdfunding platforms. With this startup, you can set up partner links for people who are referring their audience to your crowdfunding campaign. Your referrals (usually influencers, bloggers) receive a small percentage when your project has been funded from their referral. The one doing the crowdfunding campaign increases chances of getting funded.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I spend most of my money on travels. I am lucky to work on a digital business, and with this being able to work from anywhere in the world. So I use this p. Last year I worked from 5 different countries. At the moment I travel Indonesia and work on my laptop from this beautiful country. The impressions and energy I gain from traveling cannot compete with anything else. So when I am handed over $100, I am making sure to use the dollars to book myself a flight somewhere exciting.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I work in German and English language and I use DeepL Translator as a quick translation tool. It is the best deep learning translator out there. If you switch between languages too, I advise you try this one. I promise you will love it.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Edward Bernays’ ‚”Propaganda“. Bernays is known as ‚the father of Public Relations‘. He invented the term that is now known everywhere in the world. In fact, he took the learnings from war propaganda and raised the question ‚If you can move people to something bad, can you also get them to do good?’. Without question he saw consumerism as good ^^. Bernays was related to Sigmund Freud, and successfully implemented Freud’s theories and practises from the field of psychoanalysis. In his book, he leads through case studies of his groundbreaking campaigns where he covers the entire spectrum of public relations.
What is your favorite quote?
Assume the best. I live from that quote, personally and professionally. It keeps reminding me to see the good intentions in people, and remain optimistic in all areas of my life. Basically, it helps me to trust life.
- Get feedback before and after you bring an idea to life. Not in the process of doing it.
- Ignore the naysayers or let them motivate you.
- Be politically charged and become an activist.
- Delete your Facebook profile NOW.
- Spend your money on travels.