Publicist Rockstars: “Be Patient, Yet Relentless” with Amber Masciorini
I had the pleasure of interviewing Amber Masciorini, Senior PR Account Executive at ChicExecs PR & Retail Strategy.
Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I always had a knack for writing since I was a little girl and I wasn’t quite sure what I could do with that. In high school, I became an editor in chief of the yearbook and realized how much I loved to interview my fellow students and piece together compelling stories. My uncle told me that maybe I would be interested in Public Relations since that’s what he majored in. After doing some research, I found out Chico State had an amazing Journalism & PR department where you could actually apply to work at an agency on campus working on real client campaigns. My love for PR grew and I’ve been in this industry ever since!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
There’s never a dull moment in a PR agency especially when you have more than 50 hard working colleagues all with an amazing sense of humor. I do have to say though one of the more interesting moments was when we had a client’s large fluffy dog named Chewbacca come in the office. You would think a celebrity stepped in the door. I’m pretty sure all 50 of us ran over to take pictures.
We have these swinging chairs in our office and Chewbacca was sitting in the swing. One of the videos someone took on their phone ended up going viral on Facebook with more than 8 million views.
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?
Sometimes late nights lead to foolish mistakes! I was perfecting a pitch and spent hours researching journalists and editors that would be interested in featuring my client’s product. However, one of the journalists slipped through the cracks and it turned out it was a male journalist and I sent him a pitch about breastfeeding as if he would be the one breastfeeding! He had a good laugh about it and said it made his day.
I sent a witty response back to hopefully restore any damage in the relationship, but it was an important reminder to A) get more sleep and B) triple check what journalist you’re sending a pitch to because they won’t all laugh it off.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
An exciting project I’m working on right now is to actually oversee the PR campaigns for our agency. Oftentimes we’re so focused on pitching our clients, that we forget to pitch our company and practice what we preach. I’ve been securing our co-founders at ChicExecs as contributors on various industry publications so they can share their insight on PR, retail strategy and social media. It has also been amazing to share the company’s give back initiatives and all the work they do to mentor women.
Based on your personal experience, what advice would you give to young people considering a career in PR?
PR truly is all about the relationships you have. It can seem daunting at first to try to get your foot in the door since you don’t have those existing media relationships yet. However, if you have the right mentality and drive you’ll be able to make those connections in no time. It’s all about being appreciative of the media and understanding what they need — not just pushing what your client needs. Always, always say thank you and find out how you can help them for an upcoming story. Take time to get to know what interests them. A career in PR is only good as the relationships you have with the media.
You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?
I don’t know a lot of people that say they absolutely love networking but it is very necessary in the PR world. I recommend finding MeetUps, networking events and workshops with like-minded professionals. If it’s not to meet with other media, it’s still great to learn from others in the same industry. The world of PR is ever-changing and no one truly knows it all. Compare notes and find ways to improve your own tactics. The worst part of networking is just getting yourself to go to a mixer when you’d rather be in bed, but once you get there, you rarely never regret stepping out of your comfort zone.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
I read the book Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie early in my career that told the story of TOMS Shoes and how it evolved to what it is now. I think it really helped me because it reminded me of the importance of a brand having an impactful story to tell. When you think of TOMS shoes, you don’t just think of a shoe brand. Everyone knows that there is much more to the brand’s existence than anything surface level. In PR, it’s our job to be storytellers and to not just tell the media “Here’s a great pair of shoes you should write about.” Find a way to tell the media a story about “This pair of shoes impacted 2 million people last year and here’s why…”
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?
It may sound cheesy, but I believe if everyone started their morning writing down 5 things they are grateful for, I really think there would be a lot more happiness in the world. If we could all just focus less on the negatives and train our brains to be more positive, it would be amazing to see how everyone would approach the day and how they would treat others. I truly believe how you treat people is a direct reflection of how you feel about yourself. If you’re not feeling good about things in your life, you’re going to, unfortunately, take that bad energy out on others. If we could just hit “reset” and live life with more gratitude I would hope there would be a lot more positivity in the world.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
1. Have Thick Skin
Being in the PR world is all about getting someone else to take action in order for you to succeed. You have to convince journalists and producers to WANT to feature your client which is no easy feat. You are going to get a lot of no’s before you get that one YES. You’re also going to experience clients who all want to get on those top-tier publications overnight. They’re going to be unhappy with you and then they’re going to love you. It all comes down to what coverage they’re getting. I’ve learned that it’s best to let everything roll off your shoulders. You can’t take it all personally. Sometimes the media will say no and sometimes your clients aren’t ecstatic because of it, but all you can do is push forward and keep trying your best until the next opportunity comes knocking!
2. Be Patient, Yet Relentless
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are now 6 PR professionals for every journalist. That means there is so much competition out there from PR agencies and individuals pitching their clients as well.
Everyone wants quick results! I would love to send out a pitch and get a feature go live in an instant but that’s just not the way PR works. Journalists and editors want to experience the product, decide how it fits into a story, and then take the time to write. There’s a lot of waiting, but as a PR professional it’s important to just keep following up and doing your due diligence. Something will stick and it will be worth the patience and the art of a timely follow-up.
3. Always Be Reading
How can you ensure your pitch is timely if you’re not up-to-date on what’s going on? I’m extremely busy and sometimes the last thing I want to do is sit on my computer after a workday, but that’s why I’ve found Twitter and Flipboard to be extremely helpful. I can easily put in the industries that pertain to my clients and make sure I’m reading up on what stories are being covered that could apply to them. With Twitter, I can search keywords or see what’s trending to keep myself updated in a quickly digestible format.
4. Maintain Relationships
I’ve learned to always find ways to keep a relationship alive with the media. Instead of blindly emailing them each time, mention that you’ve worked together before. You already have a conversation flowing, so why not take advantage of establishing a relationship? Find out what they have in the works and ways you can help provide additional content for their upcoming story.
You’re adding more to their story and they’re helping you by including more of your clients. It’s really a win-win. Also, the more you get to know a journalist, the more they know that you’re available for them when they’re in need for a quick deadline. Really I think if journalists and PR professionals could see it more as helping each other out, both of our jobs would be a whole lot easier.
5. Become a Storyteller
At the end of the day, journalists and producers are sharing stories. The biggest lesson to take away in the PR world is to start getting used to becoming a storyteller. Explain WHY they should care and WHY their audience will care. There are thousands of beauty products out there, so why not share the story of a wife and husband skincare company that started with mixing herbs and oils in their basement because they were tired of the harsh chemicals their children had to put on their skin? I completely made that up, but it sounded more interesting than telling a reporter this skincare will have you glowing this winter. Which I’m sure they already saw 10 times this morning.