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PR Pros: Lydia Bagarozza On The 5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career As A Public Relations Pro

An Interview With Kristen Shea

Respect — Every client, writer, editor, publicist, producer, and lead deserves the same amount of respect. No matter how “big” or “small” they may seem, we are all human beings.

As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Lydia Bagarozza

Lydia Bagarozza is a sought-after Publicist and PR Strategist for purpose-driven brands in the spirituality, mentorship, health & wellness, and eco-conscious spaces. Throughout her career, she has spearheaded countless successful PR campaigns for some of the world’s top talent in the music industry, as well as brands in the beauty and lifestyle spaces, making her known as the media matchmaker amongst her colleagues. Her conscious-minded clients are regularly featured across media giants like Forbes, O, The Oprah Magazine, Yahoo!, mindbodygreen, Well+Good, ELLE, and Byrdie.

Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Absolutely! To be honest, I kind of fell into PR, which is funny because now, I hold it so close to my heart.

I originally wanted to work in the music industry. I was the Local Music Director at my college radio station, interned for numerous prestigious music companies, and even started my own music vlog where I filmed emerging artists in the tri-state area. However, when I graduated from college with a large amount of student loan debt, I decided to take the first job that I could find to pay the bills. This marked the start of a three-year-long career at a real estate development company as their Marketing Manager.

Fast-forward to 2017, when I was still dreaming about music until I found an unpaid internship for a top Music PR Agency near New York City and jumped on it. I figured that if I interned for a little bit and showed my worth, that I’d be able to get hired in just a couple months! Well, I did get hired two months later, but it wasn’t exactly what I had expected. Yes, I got to go to listening parties for top talent, and accompany my clients at really cool show appearances, however, I quickly burned myself out. What once was the love of my life (music), turned into a chore and a source of anxiety. The pressure of getting the perfect press for my clients manifested into many sleepless nights and a few health issues.

After about a year at the music PR agency, I left for a new position at a beauty, lifestyle, and fashion PR agency. Here, I represented some of the most innovative wellness brands in the country. What really fascinated me most about these brands were the founders. I wanted to know why they created their business in the first place, what was going through their minds when the brand name finally dropped into their awareness, and how many people were touched by their products. Little did I know, this was my entrepreneurial spirit peeking through. During this career transition, I was actually going through my own self-development journey to boost my well-being, so these wellness brands were the perfect match for me.

Finally, once the pandemic rolled around, I was still kind of jaded by the practices of my industry and thought, “what if the problem wasn’t me? What if it was the way that the industry was being run?” So, like many, I used the pandemic as a self-reflective time to get clear on what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Within a few weeks, I landed on my own PR business, where I put conscious brands and practices at the forefront of my business. This meant real human connections with my clients and media professionals. Now, I run a wildly successful PR business where I support a specific niche clientele and have never felt more fulfilled.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?

The most interesting story has to be this! When I first started my business, I felt like I needed to start my PR experience from scratch. I didn’t have an agency name to back me so, I wasn’t sure if I was marketable. This was totally my inner critic talking, but anyway, I thought that if I could just get my first client on a publication like Forbes, I’d be able to take off. Well, I asked a friend and business coach if I could pitch her as an experiment and see if I could land her a Forbes feature. She agreed in exchange for a testimonial. In one week’s time, I was able to get that coach a full feature on Forbes. The editor that I worked with for this piece told me she was looking for this exact type of angle. It felt like a true “meant to be” kind of moment. It was then that I realized, wow, I can really do this. I can really be an entrepreneur!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest mistake that I made when I first started my business was not charging enough for my services. I guess it wasn’t funny at the time, but now, I look back, laugh, and ask myself “what was I thinking?”

I had never set prices before and feared that because I wasn’t “established” on my own that people wouldn’t see my worth. Well, as it turns out, I was the only one who couldn’t see my worth!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I am currently working on a digital self-led course where entrepreneurs can teach themselves how to be their own publicists. This is for newer business owners who are making consistent income, feel very secure in their offers and products, and are what I like to call, PR-curious. They know that media exposure could lead to larger impacts but aren’t sure where to start.

Each short training within this course goes through all the foundational pieces that business owners need to know in order to effectively pitch themselves and secure press features organically.

This program is also great for team members of larger companies that want to learn a new skill for their position. I have been approached by quite a few CEOs that are interested in purchasing a product like this for their employees.

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Thick-skinned — If a writer, producer, or editor doesn’t answer my pitch, or declines my request, it doesn’t mean that I wrote a bad story angle. It just means that it isn’t a fit for that press outlet, at that time. I like to use my judgment before switching up my pitch angle, however, I feel like it is also okay to expand my media outreach.

Detail-Oriented — There are a lot of details that go into booking an interview, speaking engagement, or appearance. It’s been beneficial to be as detail-oriented as possible so that my clients are prepared when going into any media opportunity.

Concise — I have to admit, I had a problem with this at first. I got so excited to share my client’s stories, that my first instinct was to ramble. Nevertheless, I try to keep in mind that writers, producers, and editors are in their emails literally all day long. With that being said, they don’t want to be reading a novel per email. When I reach out to a media contact via an email, DM, etc., I always strive to be as concise as possible. It’s industry courtesy.

Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. For the benefit of our readers, can you help articulate what the different forms of PR are?

There are lots of different forms of PR. To name a few: There’s celebrity seeding, where an agency gifts products to a celebrity or influencer in exchange for free promotion. There’s traditional PR, where an agency uses conventional channels like magazines (online & print), radio, and tv to raise brand awareness. There’s crisis PR, which I don’t know too much about, other than that it restores a brand’s reputation. AND there’s what I like to call “conscious PR.” This is my own personal brand of PR, where I focus on raising brand visibility for my clients in an extremely ethical way to pursue, secure, and deliver impactful press opportunities.

I’m going to be honest, Public Relations has somewhat of a bad reputation. And for good reason. There are still a lot of toxic practices that go on within my industry. I always strive to bring the “human connection” back into PR, where my clients aren’t being featured just because I took an editor out to a nice spa, but because they felt an authentic, magnetic, and genuine “connection” when they read my pitch.

Where should a young person considering a career in PR start their education? Should they get a degree in communications? A degree in journalism? Can you explain what you mean?

I would suggest that they work at an agency before going in-house, or in other words, before working at one specific company. An agency isn’t easy. It’s an extremely fast-paced environment, with a lot of different clients that have many different needs and desires. However, newbies in the PR space will gain immeasurable skills that will make them a great publicist if they start there.

To answer your question about young people needing to earn a degree in communications or journalism to pursue a career in PR — no, I don’t think that this is necessary. What I mean by this is, I have friends that were history majors and now work in analytics for a tech firm. It really doesn’t matter. What matters is, learning how to write quick stories, understanding the formulas for a good pitch, and adopting the three characteristics listed above. Anyone can begin a career in PR. You just may need to start as an intern first.

Moral of the story, never let your college degree stop you from pursuing your dream career. And remember, it’s always okay to pivot.

You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?

I am proud to say that I am, in fact, a master networker. I don’t say this to be vain, but I have had this statement reflected back to me my whole life. I love helping others get ahead in their career, while making friends and connections along the way.

Some tips:

  1. Make each interaction personal. If you’re reaching out to a new writer, let them know that you love their recent article. Or, if you’re connecting with a new podcast host, tell them which episode stood out to you most.
  2. Always be yourself. Every person is amazing and unique in their own way. Might as well share that uniqueness from the start. It’ll make you more magnetic and help you create strong business connections quickly.
  3. Do your research. In PR, we tend to do a lot of cold outreach. If you’re pursuing a cold interaction, make sure that you know what you’re talking about. For example: if an editor is writing fashion pieces for Vogue, but they used to write about business for Business Insider ten years ago, don’t ask them to do a story for your client on Business Insider. Odds are that they are no longer a writer for that publication.

Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?

Absolutely, and it’s copy! I never realized how important copy was until I started my own business. I’ve learned so much from one of my client’s Kelsey Formost recently, who is a master copywriter and marketing whiz.

Learning good copy empowered me to speak from my own voice, while shutting out the noise. It’s easy to get lost in comparison when you’re trying to make sales for the first time in your business. I truly feel, if you want to attract your ideal clients with ease, then you need to share from your heart, speak from your zone of genius, and do it often! That, in my opinion, is how you generate quality leads.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career As A Public Relations Pro” and why.

  1. Connections — I’m sure every single publicist will tell you this, and it’s true. Connections are number 1 in this business. However, if you don’t have good connections with media contacts just yet, don’t get discouraged. Strong connections take time. Personal touches go a long way when trying to network. Invite an editor to a fun coffee Zoom date or mention one of their recent stories. The perks in all of this is to earn great press features for your clients, while also making new friends along the way. ☺
  2. Respect — Every client, writer, editor, publicist, producer, and lead deserves the same amount of respect. No matter how “big” or “small” they may seem, we are all human beings.
  3. Good Hooks — I have been told many times before that my subject lines were the reasons writers read my pitch. In order to come up with good hooks, I would suggest checking out what’s “trending,” noticing the season we’re in, and being aware of national holidays. Whatever is relevant and fun will get the most reads.
  4. Great Pitches — I have spent years honing my craft, learning from other publicists, and doing my own research to create wildly effective pitches. I truly feel like a client is almost as good as their publicist. If your client has a revenue generating business, there should be no reason why they can’t get decent press. It always comes back to the pitch.
  5. Adaptability — The media industry is ever-evolving. Print publications are folding and almost everything is going digital. In addition to that, podcasts have nearly taken over the radio game. With that being said, adaptability is critical to be successful in this industry.

Because of the role you play, 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. :-)

A movement that I’m very passionate about is being more eco-conscious in our daily routines. I love supporting eco-conscious brands in my business, because I truly feel like we are not doing enough to support our planet. Plastic has created a huge problem and we are quickly seeing the effects of this in our oceans. I would love to start a movement where we reduce our plastic use! Yes, I think that it is very much our responsibility as the consumer, but our industry giants need to create and implement new sustainable practices too.

This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.

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