Letting the other person, company or organization know that they are highly valued is also wise, no matter how large or small they are.
Rhonda Rees is an award-winning veteran in the field of public relations. She is an independent in charge of Rhonda Rees Public Relations Company, and Aseity Press publishing. Rhonda is the author of the highly acclaimed book, Profit and Prosper with Public Relations®: Insider Secrets to Make You a Success, and is also the recipient of the Publicist of the Year honor from the prestigious Bulldog Reporter publication, for a media awareness campaign she orchestrated to help bring attention to online book piracy issues. In 2016 Rhonda teamed up with the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), and gave a webinar on the topic. She also orchestrated the annual “Check Your Books” PSA awareness campaign.
During 2017, Rhonda is featured in the Elite Entrepreneurs book, The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Fox News Site, PopSugar, Roostergnn – Global News Network, FashionBeans and on many blogs, and has contributed several feature articles both in magazines and online. She has also appeared as a guest on radio podcasts, and on television programs and news broadcasts, including National Public Radio, and on YouTube.
In her varied career, Rhonda has represented a wide variety of clients including authors, celebrities, Fortune 500 companies, manufacturers, fire and safety firms, environmental companies, attorneys, politicians, financial planners, and nonprofits, contributing pro bono services. She has been instrumental in creating both traditional and grassroots PR campaigns that have garnered extensive media coverage in newspapers, magazines, radio, television and online, through traditional and social media placements.
Rhonda has lectured extensively on the subject of public relations to businesses, universities, and organizations. She is an active member of professional business and civic organizations, and has served as president of the former Publicity Club of Los Angeles.
Rhonda Rees is an award-winning PR expert, entrepreneur, author, speaker and advocate, located in the greater Los Angeles, CA area.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
The idea to start my own public relations business actually came while I was still working at a small PR agency some years ago. I was mentored by the late Alfred E. F. Stern, and he was the Los Angeles chapter president of the Public Relations Society of America at that time. Prior to owning his own firm he handled the original promotions on the classic movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”. He had worked for RKO pictures during their heyday, as well as for MGM studios. Since I had such great one-on-one training, I was very fortunate to have learned the ropes from a real pro. After spending 10 years at the company, I felt that I knew enough to open up my own PR business, and that’s just what I did.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
A typical day in public relations is actually “different” from the one before. That’s the first thing that my former boss told me. I have found this to be very true even now. I tend to greet each day with a sense of openness, but I always realize that it will still be a lot of work, as rarely do projects finish in a neat “9 to 5” package. This is especially true when I am working on a special event. Oftentimes evenings and weekends are involved. First thing I do at the start of my work day is to go over my emails and messages, and proceed from there. I’m also quick to respond to people, and make sure that I always get back to everyone in a timely manner.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The way that I bring ideas to life is to first think about them for awhile in my mind, and then I generally write something down in the form of a press release, pitch letter or other copy. Once I view the text onscreen, I get the rhythm of the piece, and from there I work to polish it, and do some re-writes. When I feel that the wording is ready, I then show it to another person first before submitting it to the client. When I get the client’s feedback, the copy generally will go back and forth a few more times before it is sent out to the media. That way we can add copy, catch any errors, omissions, or mistakes before something goes to press.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
A trend that really excites me is the many possibilities that exist with our newer technologies. As an example, I recently tried out a communication service on Facebook messenger that works much like SKYPE. It’s always good to have a back-up plan, and to know that there’s something else to rely on just in case you need it.
What’s one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
The one habit that I make use of as an entrepreneur which I find most productive is my reliance on the old-fashioned and traditional way of doing things. I participate in many in-person business networking meetings, as I find that it’s so important to be able to meet with people face-to-face, and to make eye contact. That way you can better gauge how things are going, or renew their interest, and find out in “real time” what is happening. No technology can ever replace this.
What advice would you give your younger self?
The best advice I could give to my younger self is to realize that recessions are a common part of business, and they can last much longer than expected. It’s important to never rest on your laurels, and to diversity in ways of finding and keeping clients and business. Doing more than one thing such as cold-calling, traditional marketing and PR, in-person networking, joining organizations, participating in workshops, seminars and webinars, and using social media, and email campaigns are important.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I believe that people are way too dependent on technology today. I like the old adage, “It if ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. I find that what worked a long time ago still applies today. I also feel that people are much too dependent on their cell phones. They should try and put them down from time to time. This is especially true when watching a guest speaker at an event, or in meeting new people. It’s still important to give each other courtesy and respect, and to let them know that you are listening by actively paying attention to show that you care.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
As an entrepreneur the one thing that I like to do and recommend that others follow is to always get back to people in a timely manner. It’s very important in business to mean what you say and to say what you mean. Letting the other person, company or organization know that they are highly valued is also wise, no matter how large or small they are. It’s so important to not take yourself too seriously, and to realize that if someone took the time to reach out to you, then he or she deserves your time, attention and respect in return.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
One important strategy that has helped me to grow my business is to do my own PR. It’s always a good idea to actively market your company once you get any publicity coverage, and to realize that it won’t necessarily lead to a line of people banging on your door. It’s not enough to hope that people will see or hear about you the first time around. Instead you have to really “work it” by making a YouTube video, or by posting the media coverage to your website and blog, and distributing it out through your social media.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
A failure that I have had as an entrepreneur is to not realize that downturns in the economy (as previously mentioned) can last far longer than most people ever anticipate. It’s so important to be prepared for that inevitability. Not acknowledging sooner that budgets have been cut, and then adjusting the scope of work and hours accordingly is another area that I’m focusing on. This takes a little getting used to. Realizing that you can work twice as hard for half the amount of money that we once got, is all too common an occurrence in today’s business climate.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
An excellent media/publicity free service I recommend is HARO (Help a Reporter Out). They have journalists who are looking for credible experts and sources for their stories. I have made use of them for clients and colleagues, as well as for my own business. This great media exposure is well worth it.
What is the best $100 you spent recently and why?
The best $100 I spent was on a day at the Spa! It was wonderful getting pampered, and feeling refreshed and relaxed to help me keep a good balance between work, rest and play.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I like to make use of web based wire services to help with my clients. Examples include PR Web, Newswire and EIN Presswire. Each service distributes my press releases to a large media list, sometimes including the Associated Press (AP). I find that this type of coverage reaches a very wide audience.
What is the one book you recommend our community should read and why?
I’ve written an award-winning book, Profit and Prosper with Public Relations®: Insider Secrets to Make You a Success. It’s packed with all kinds of ideas, tips, suggestions, etc., in how to best do PR, or to become much more knowledgeable when hiring an expert or firm to represent you. Also offered are industry resources. The e-book version is easy-to-read as well as economical.
What Is Your Favorite Quote?
“Some men see things as they are, and ask why? I dream things that never were and ask why not,” by the late Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. He was paraphrasing an original quote by George Bernard Shaw.
• A typical day in the public relations business isn’t actually “typical”, as it is never the same day twice. Writing copy such as a press release should be gone over many times with the client first before submitting it to the media. Newer technologies can enhance, as well as detract from more traditional PR services.
• In-person networking still works very well in today’s modern-day business climate. Diversifying your methods for promotion is very smart, especially during recessions, and downturns in the economy.
• Courtesy, respect and manners can go a long way, so when talking or listening to someone put down your cell phone, and pay attention. Getting back to people in a timely manner is also important, but almost a dying art these days.
• Doing your own PR by way of marketing the media coverage is a necessity. You can’t always expect that people will see and respond to your message the first time around.
• Know that in today’s business arena, budgets are not what they once were. You have to remain flexible and adjust your hours and work accordingly. There are many good and economical web based services and resources out there, especially for media distribution purposes.
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Rhonda Rees on Twitter: @ReesRhonda or @Rees_Rhonda.
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.