Jenny Beres and Alex Grizinski: “If you want to have a Sara Blakely effect, you need to be showing up; You should be appearing in the press, showing up in the media, and being a thought leader and not a workhorse”
If you want to have a Sara Blakely effect, you need to be showing up. You should be appearing in the press, showing up in the media, and being a thought leader and not a workhorse. You should start stepping out using your company as an example of what you’ve learned. Be a leader.
As part of our series about “Brand Makeovers” I had the pleasure to interview Jenny Beres and Alex Grizinski, co-founders of Pink Shark PR.
Jenny Beres and Alex Grizinski are the Co-Founders of Pink Shark PR, an LA-based PR and influencer agency. After meeting in a screenwriting class back in 2013, J+A became fast friends and in 2015 cofounded their first company together, Six and Up, where they help entrepreneurs leverage their wildest dreams into lucrative businesses (and still do). You can connect with Jenny and Alex on Instagram at either @jennyberes and @alexgrizinski — or come hang out in their kick-butt Facebook community Six and Up.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Jenny: Alex and I have been in business together for 5 years, and prior to that I started out as a copywriter and quickly moved into influencer outreach marketing. I’ve always been the type to move to the next thing and to follow what was most inspiring to me. I’ve always been focused on doing what brings my clients and their brands the most awareness. So slowly the influencer marketing melded into doing press. One day, in the middle of getting press passes for a client to go to Coachella actually, Alex looked at me and said, “Jenny, I think we have a full-blown PR agency. I think we need to give it a name.”
Alex: Yes, exactly. We started out with a specific influencer who requested we start doing PR for her, so we were digging into Coachella. So we decided we needed to name it. I was sitting at an airport talking to Jenny about possible names, and there was this guy wearing a pink shirt that had sharks on it. I said, “Pink Shark PR,” and boom, we had a name. The rest is history. We kind of built the thing overnight, which is how we do everything in our business. We jump in with both feet and learn as we go. It makes us great for our clients because we’re super flexible in terms of what we can do for them. It’s created this journey where every client has very individualized services and attention, and we love that.
Can you share a story about the funniest marketing or branding mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Alex: I don’t really believe in making mistakes in business. Based on the “classic” definition of a mistake, we’ve probably made a billion of them, so I wouldn’t be able to just point to one. However, I definitely think that if you learn from what you do, it’s not really a mistake. In business, it’s important to try stuff, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I think this is especially true when it comes to branding. You just try things. It’s pretty much our philosophy on everything we do.
Jenny: On the funny side, I definitely mix up metaphors sometimes when I’m coming up with branding ideas. There was one person who called me out on it and I thought he was complimenting me at first. But I don’t know if that’s really a mistake or just me being me.
Alex: In terms of our branding though, we try not to get too caught up in decisions like wording or colors. We just see what we need to do and do it.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lesson that others can learn from that?
Jenny: I feel like there have been a couple of different tipping points for our business over the years. For the current form of our business, there was an obvious income tipping point when I started cold-pitching. Cold-pitching brands changed everything for our company because I decided to go out and start getting us clients instead of just looking at job boards. It was a game-changer for me making money personally that I used in my partnership with Alex.
Alex: I agree, and I think the second major tipping point for us was when we discovered mindset work. We had to reprogram our brains to believe in our ability to scale and bring on more and more money, clients, and even our team. It was all a mindset game with us. We had to believe that we were actually capable of running a company. The point at which a person transitions from thinking “I own a small business” to “I own a company” requires a major rewiring of the brain. I think the major takeaway from both moments is to not be afraid to put yourself out there. You can’t just lay down a net and hope fish swim into it. You shouldn’t be afraid to go out and create your own income.
Jenny: A lot of people wait until they have everything figured out before they go out and do something. For example, people want to have their websites perfect before they start making money. I didn’t even have a website when I started all of this, I just went out and did it. You don’t need to have your branding perfect to make money, your brand is you. That’s my biggest takeaway. Your brand is you.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Alex: We are an exciting new project. We are a team built of creatives and we don’t just use our PR skills to help our clients, we use them to help our creative adventures too. Everyone on our team has some creative outlet, whether they’re authors, screenwriters, or movie makers. So we’re using our PR abilities to also grow the creative side of our business, which is something we’re venturing into more this coming year.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
Jenny: I don’t think I actually started avoiding burnout until our company grew to a place where I couldn’t take it all on by myself, so I had to start handing it off to other people. My advice is to get ruthlessly honest about what you should be working on, what you want to be working on, and what other people could be doing. It’s still something I work on every single day. The truth is, most of the things you think you should be doing for your company, everyone else is equipped to do. The few things that really only you can do, those are the things you should be hyper-focused on because that serves everyone on your team.
Alex: Yes. Build your team, build your team, build your team. Also, honor who you are in the process and don’t waste your time doing things that don’t feel good.
Ok, let’s now jump to the core part of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain?
Jenny: For us, there’s no separation between brand marketing and product marketing. We’ve established a loyal community, we’ve gotten to know them, and we sell products and services. But the key is, they know who we are. They’ve gotten to know us from our social media platforms, our emails, and our commitment to showing up as leaders. So for us, there is no difference between the two. We believe we are our own brand and we just show up as us. We talk about the things that authentically interest us. The things we bring to the market have developed from our own needs. Necessity is the mother of innovation or invention. What’s the metaphor? I don’t know. (laughs).
Alex: See! A perfect example of the metaphor issue. Seriously though, when I think about product marketing I think of people like Kylie Jenner. Kylie Jenner is Kylie Jenner’s brand, and her business sells products. Kylie, as a brand, is the driver of her selling the products and that’s what has made her company a billion-dollar company. We’re in this economic climate where the line between product and brand starts dissolving. Ultimately, we have people selling products. People want to see the faces of the people selling them things they want to buy. Influencer marketing, which is what we do, has started to dissolve that line between people and products.
Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?
Alex: This goes back to my point about Kylie Jenner. Your brand is YOU. People are not just buying products anymore, they’re buying into you and your company’s mission. I literally just bought press-on-nails the other day because a woman on Instagram was showing herself packaging up her nails and shipping them to people. Her living room was filled with boxes and she was packaging them up. The investment in that is that now I’ve gotten to know the human behind the brand. I like her, so I want to support her.
I feel like traditional advertising can take the human out of marketing, and marketing has become a very human process. People no longer want to be sold to, they want the value to be given to them in the way that you sell. So that means interacting with the humans behind the brand. Advertising doesn’t have to be not-human, but when it comes down to investing energy in your brand it comes down to investing in you.
It’s important to invest in yourself because the better we become the more people are going to want to listen to what we have to say. A perfect example is Sara Blakely. She talks about being in a mastermind with other men, and listening religiously to Wayne Dyer tapes, and that all set the groundwork for the billion-dollar business she now owns. She talks about thinking like she was going to fail, and now people turn to her for advice because they want to do it the way she’s built it. She’s invested in herself, she cares about her mission, she’s become a well-rounded business that’s very conscious, and I believe that’s what we should all be striving for.
Jenny: I love that, and I think that there’s this misnomer between business and personal. I think building a business is the most personal, intimate thing you can possibly do. It turns you inside out. There is no separation between personal and business. Your business is extremely personal.
Alex: Yes, and that just makes it better because now we’re not just thinking about investing in ourselves, but also the people on our team. We care about investing in them, and that’s what building a brand is all about.
Let’s now talk about rebranding. What are a few reasons why a company would consider rebranding?
Alex: You should be rebranding every day. Seriously though, I don’t know if Jenny would agree with me, but we’re constantly reshaping our brand because we’re constantly reshaping ourselves.
Jenny: Absolutely! We change daily.
Alex: We’ve rebranded a million times and I think some people may think we’re a little messy with it. But I think of it as “making moves” more than rebranding. I think about Taylor Swift and how when everybody was calling her a snake, she just used it. She wiped her Instagram clean and put up a gif of a snake, and her album Reputation was born. It was one of her most successful albums of all time. When everyone said she was finished, she used what was happening to create a whole new image. It wasn’t just a rebrand but more of her shifting into a whole new version of herself. She could never go back to who she was before, which is more powerful. If something happens in your business, use it to reposition yourself.
Are there downsides of rebranding? Are there companies that you would advise against doing a “Brand Makeover”? Why?
Alex: The downside to rebranding is that you don’t want to fabricate something just to rebrand because you think you need a refresh. You want it to be an organic, authentic process. I would advise any company who is just thinking of doing a brand makeover for the sake of doing one to rethink their reasoning. If you get to a point where you need a major overhaul, you probably should have done something sooner. You should be revising your brand all the time.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Can you share 5 strategies that a company can do to upgrade and re-energize their brand and image”? Please tell us a story or an example for each.
Jenny: This is actually something that I’m super passionate about. Every company is so different, so I don’t think one company’s strategies will work for another. Passing out cookie-cutter strategies is something that can actually be a hindrance to your business. We like to dig way deeper to re-energize our brand.
Alex: I totally agree. We are always shifting and looking deeper to re-energize ourselves. That’s why our first suggestion would be to get in touch with who you really are. This could mean doing mindset work, going to a workshop, investing in a course, whatever you need to do to get to know YOU. There are too many companies out there that are not grounded in who they are and what they really want to do. Finding out is the only way to build something that sustains.
Jenny: A second suggestion would be to find out who your brand partners are. Your brand collaborators are going to be super powerful. Find influencers or colleagues with a similar mission who have a complementary offering, service, or product so you can tap into each other’s followings and start to build a community from both customer bases.
Alex: Third, we’d suggest paying attention to who’s buying from you. It not only reflects who your customer is, but also who you are. Thinking about their perspective as they come to your website, etc. helps you to sell them what they want, but also be able to give them what they need.
Jenny: Fourth is that your CEO should be speaking. If you want to have a Sara Blakely effect, you need to be showing up. You should be appearing in the press, showing up in the media, and being a thought leader and not a workhorse. You should start stepping out using your company as an example of what you’ve learned. Be a leader.
Alex: Yes, because again, people want to know the humans behind the company. Our final point would be to get personal and talk to the people. Talk to your team, your customers, whoever interacts with your brand. You will naturally re-energize your brand by getting to know the people who interact with it. Right now our team is small enough where I can interact directly. I strive to sit down and talk to every one of our team members to get to know them and see how they feel about what they’re doing. This not only helps me, but it helps to get people positioned well on the team, doing what they are most happy doing. But we also have social media groups where we can ask clients what they want and they can tell us. Social media is great for this. No matter what platform you use, it’s fantastic to get you directly to your people. And people feel very connected to us and what we do because we talk to them.
In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job doing a “Brand Makeover”. What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?
Alex: Again, I think Taylor Swift is a great rebrander. She does a fabulous job with her fans and incorporates all the points we’ve been talking about. She talks to her fans, she positions herself in front of them, she puts easter-eggs in her products to give her fans things to have fun with, and then she uses what happens to completely recreate herself. She would be irrelevant if she hadn’t revitalized her brand so well. And she does it constantly as she has grown.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Alex: I think we’re having it right now.
Jenny: Yes! We are having it right now.
Alex: With the onset of the Coronavirus we’re having a whole work-from-home revolution happening. Freedom is happening in this confinement. Brands are having to adjust to putting everything online, and it’s forcing them to rebrand in all ways. It’s not just rebranding, it’s uprooting. No matter what’s happening in the world, the companies who will last are the ones who will use this moment to revitalize, not just stay afloat. Industries like exercise brands and meditation, where people have had to go to space before, are now digitizing. It’s going to change how they do business forever because it’s opening them up to a global marketplace.
Jenny: Yes! The revolution we’d inspire, and that we’re in, is having the freedom to have the space to create the brand that you want. We are in the middle of a revolution of getting to pick and choose how you want to go forward, and there is a lot of power in that. There are people who had dreams they wanted to accomplish and things they wanted to do that they didn’t have the time to do before, and now they have the space to figure that out. Companies who have wanted to pivot are now being forced to.
Alex: And now that they’re learning to do this, they’re going to be able to do it over and over again. It’s amazing.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Alex: I like the quote, “Work harder on yourself than you do on your business.” It’s a variation on a Jim Rohn quote. I like it because it’s what Jenny and I always strive to do. When we first started working together, we had to figure out what would make us successful. I had a coach at the time who told me I needed to spend a ton of time doing mindset work and something in that rang true to me. As soon as we started focusing on that and programming our brains for success, we started having success. That’s why the quote speaks to me, because we’ve seen what it can do.
How can our readers follow you online?
Jenny: You can find us at our website: https://www.pinksharkpr.com/. But we also have a Facebook group for all kinds of business owners called The Six & Up Community. It’s a great community for all business owners.
Thank you so much for these excellent insights! We wish you continued success in your work.