I had the pleasure of interviewing Sabina Hitchen.
Sabina Hitchen is a New York City entrepreneur, business builder, speaker, and “small business fairy godmother”. She now sits as the founder and CEO of Press for Success PR Prep School, a digital education platform that teaches thousands of entrepreneurs, experts, and small businesses around the world how to get publicity strategically and confidently, via the platforms courses and tools they provide. Sabina and her companies have been in everywhere from Forbes to Fox, the New York Daily News to ABC News, and she’s a regular guest on television around the country sharing “wow-worthy” finds from American small business owners.
Jean: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory” of how you become a founder?
After a first career in education, where i taught political science and history to high schools as well as designed education curriculum, I made a personal leap from the midwest to New York City, where via serendipitous chance, I was referred by a friend and hired to work in the public relations department of a prestigious national brand. Though I knew very little about the industry when I began (I literally Googled “What is public relations” before my first day of work), I fell in love with it very quickly and discovered it was a fantastic fit for me. I went on to work at an agency and learn to manage multiple clients, and though I loved the “what” of the work I didn’t love the “where” I was working, and left. Shortly after leaving, several of my former clients came to me and let me know that if I built it, as in my own agency, thy would come.
Though I was only in my mid-twenties, new to the city, and new to the PR world, I knew that it was a risk I was willing to take. As my father told me, “Worst case scenario, you try your best, you fail, and you have a great story to tell your friends in the future of cocktails”. I lept, and it was amazing.
Within a year my company had moved from the living of my Brooklyn walk-up to a loft office in Chelsea, and I continued to run it for over ten years, serving start-ups and experts, as well as a powerful and established national brands.
While working in the PR industry with clients of all kinds, my passion was always the small businesses and startups, and as an entrepreneur I was active in those communities. I saw that, as essential as it was, there was a huge lack of PR know-how and education, as well as a lack of budget for hiring PR agencies.
Long story short, I saw that need in the market, and created it, but designing and evolving PR education-based platforms and communities. These grew and led me to build Press for Success PR Prep School, and I haven’t looked back since. We currently reach businesses from South Africa to South Carolina, Long Island to London, and the success stories of our students inspire me and my team to keep going and building.
Jean: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I think my unique history of being both a trained educator — I came from a true education background — coupled with my decade plus work as a public relations agency owner, is truly our “special sauce”.
When we create online education for our students, I understand both the creation process when it comes to courses and curriculum, and how that can be used to teach public relations, which I think is one of the most powerful skills a business can possess — even as the industry itself evolves. As it does, our education evolves as well!
Beyond that, I believe in the democratization of public relations, because not everyone can afford an agency (I support hiring them but I understand small biz budgets as well), thus I am proud that we offer a totally affordable alternative until you can make that agency step!
Jean: Are you working on any exciting projects now?
Yes! We ‘ve recently introduced a monthly All Access subscription to our education platform, which was a dream of mine for years. It’s accessibly priced, it offers amazing value (new self-guided video courses every month, exclusive press interviews, weekly on-camera office hours with pros, the works).
This means that for less than the cost of a couple of New York City cocktails, entrepreneurs and business owners anywhere in the world can get amazing access to public relations and brand-building education, support, accountability and tools!
It’s exciting as ever!
Jean: Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?
Most of the books that impact my business — and my life — are based in mindset or transformative work. Two that I’ve returned to repeatedly are: the 7 Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra, and Think and Grow Rich and Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson.
Both of them inspire me to think and live at a level that reminds me of the power of my purpose and my limitless potential, and they keep my self-doubt, analysis paralysis, and comparing myself to others at a minimum.
I’ve read them so many times I know which sections I can return to when I need a mindset shift and mental boost.
I highly recommend getting them in physical editions so you can take notes, mark pages, and use them as if they are workbooks you can return to!
If the inside isn’t working, trust me, the outside will never work as powerfully as it could!
Jean: What are your “5 Lessons I Learned as a Twentysomething Founder” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
Don’t lose the part of you that dreams big — some would say too big — as you grow your business and get older. When I was starting my first company, I was so green and naive that no ask felt too big or out of reach. Because of that, I was doing asks, pitches, and landing meetings that were pretty major — from booking national press stories to taking meetings with pretty significant leaders in media and business. I was fearless and just plain EXCITED about it all!. As I’ve grown older and my company has grown, I’ve had to become aware of the moments I hold back, or let fear and “can we really do that?” thoughts slip in. Sure, I want to make strategic decisions, but I don’t want to hold back the big dreamer side of me either!
Know your worth and the value of your time as in, the actual numbers. Be able to assess how much work you’re putting into any project, client, or partnership, or you will end up working for minimum wage while spending hours. No matter what you do you need to know you’re value, which evolves as you and your business do. I remember when I first began running my PR agency, I refused to track hours or create any systems for pricing beyond our retainers, saying “I’m not a dollar per hour person, I work on projects”. This ended up seeing my team and me work far too much on specific projects, which at the end of the day meant we were working for much less than we should have been.
I have since learned to price properly, know my worth, and the value of my time whether I’m doing my own project or someone else’s. This prevents me from letting the scope of projects grow past what we’re being paid for. No matter what type of business you have, the power of understanding pricing, scope, and value cannot be understated.
Learn how to outsource things that you are a) not good at b) never accomplishing or c) hate to do. For too long I thought I had to be, do, and run nearly everything a my business. I only outsourced the obvious (web design and programming, etc.) but tried to do the rest on my own, and failed in some categories, repeatedly. One example of this was my bookkeeping. In the beginning I tried to do this all on my own, thinking I was a failure if I couldn’t do it. How wrong I was. Handing things like accounting, social media marketing, and more to experts, allows me to focus myself on what I’m the best at, and what I enjoy, and lets true experts focus on the other parts of my business.
Choose collaboration and community over competition. When you’re new, young, and hungry, it’s easy to see everyone else in your field or industry as “the enemy”. You hoard information, you don’t share what you’re up to — from celebrations to struggles — and you fly solo a lot. Big mistake! Some of my greatest successes and comforts in business come from collaborating with other leading women in my industry. These formal and informal “masterminds” and informal support groups have led to so many opportunities and ideas for us all. Find your people, even in your own industry, and remember that a rising tide lifts all ships!
Jean: Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
100% — I want to connect with Jeff Bezos and Michael Dell. I admire their entrepreneurial stories, yes, but I also love how Bezos is transforming the way we buy, sell, and discover new businesses and brands, while Dell impacts how we interact with them, how we build our own brands, and so forth. I’d love to talk to them about how to support, educate, and inspire the next generation of makers, founders, and entrepreneurs — which is imperative — and how they can be a part of that.
— Published on June 27, 2018