Publicist Rockstars: “Believe in yourself. You CAN do this” with Kimberely Ring
I had the pleasure of interviewing Kimberley Ring. She is the founder of Ring Communications — one of the fastest growing integrated marketing firms in Boston. She is known as one of the leading public relations professionals and social media influencers in Boston and is known for her work with high profile brands in the lifestyle, hospitality, and sports industries. A self-made publicist and business owner that built a successful career on joining “old school ethics” with “new school techniques”, she has been delivering creative, innovative and successful marketing, public relations and social campaigns for almost twenty years.
She founded her own consultancy in 2007 and has built the business to represent an impressive client roster that includes national and global brands including the UFC, ISlide, Actress Eliza Dushku, MLB pitcher Jason Grilli, Chef Michael Schlow, Pedro Martinez Foundation, and many, many more. In addition to building her business and leading her team of up and coming marketing stars, she serves as an adjunct professor at Suffolk University in Boston, where she teaches mobile, digital and social media marketing.
Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Ever since I was a young girl, I’ve been fascinated with finding the stories behind the people, places, and things that surround me. I knew early on that I would excel in some type of communications role because I’ve always been able to connect with people and love to write. So, public relations felt like the best fit. It’s all I’ve ever really wanted to do.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
Before Conor McGregor was a megastar, I handled one of his first press tours when RingComm worked with the UFC. He had an upcoming fight in Boston and I was tasked with arranging media visits for him throughout New England. He spent a day and half with me driving around in my Nissan Murano from Boston to Rhode Island to do interviews. It was such a fun time and I found him absolutely fascinating. What’s interesting (5 years later) is that despite all his fame and notoriety, he remembers it as vividly as I do. I recently saw him at a launch for his Proper Twelve whiskey in Boston and he came running over to see me, congratulate me and reminisce on how hectic (and fun) it was. When someone so big remembers someone so small like me, it says a lot about the work I do and the impression I leave.
How did you scale your business to profitability? How long did it take? Please share the steps you took.
I ran incredibly lean for the first 5 or so years. I kept my overhead to a minimum, didn’t invest in anything that wasn’t completely necessary, and did as much work for my clients and my business as I could on my own without hiring outside help. A lot of entrepreneurs live by the “you have to spend money to make money” mentality, but I knew that wasn’t the right way to go. I wasn’t in a rush to dominate. I took my time building my business and assembling my team to be exactly right. I was careful with every move I made because I knew this was it for the long haul.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Every year we get to work on the public relations for a local performance of the Nutcracker. It’s the perfect way to kick-off the holiday season and a great way to countdown to a much-needed break! We also recently had the opportunity to work on a custom condom launch with Small Army and MyONE, which was a ton of fun. To top it off, our client ISlide is announcing an investment partnership with a big NBA star. Things are crazy these days. But, they’re a good crazy.
Based on your personal experience, what advice would you give to young people considering a career in PR?
Don’t expect it to be glamorous and exciting all the time. It’s a tough job. Publicists don’t have a 9 to 5. We’re always “on” and are often doing a number of things at once — arranging a photo shoot, pitching a producer for a morning show segment, dealing with an angry client who didn’t make it into a story, and handling about a million other additional little things in between.
It’s also important to stay on top of the shifts in the industry. The world of news is changing fast. Long-time writers are facing layoffs, contributor networks are replacing newsrooms, and clients want measurement and ROI more than ever. Be ready to prove your worth with impressions and publicity value.
You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?
Be yourself. Authenticity is the best asset you can have. In a world where society is trying to filter their lives for popularity on social media, the person who stays true to him or herself if the one that builds better relationships.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
Believe it or not, when I first started out I read just about every textbook I could get my hands on. Other entrepreneurs are out there reading motivational business books, and here I am reading “Digital Marketing Essentials” and other textbooks used in college curriculum. I’ll basically read anything that will teach me a new skill that can be used to grow my business.
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. :-)
The “Be Nice” Movement. I feel like we are always so consumed with our lives, with our phones, and with our politics that we forget to be kind to one another. Sometimes a smile can change the entire outcome of a stranger’s day.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- “It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.” There was a time that I was broke, walking from meeting to meeting in the freezing cold because I couldn’t even afford public transportation. I wouldn’t change a thing. It brought out my inner toughness and determination and that’s why I’m successful today.
- “Even if you’re expensing it, it’s still YOUR money that you’re spending.” It’s easy to spend money you THINK you’re going to make. Don’t. You haven’t made it yet.
- “Bookkeeping is essential.” See number 2 and trust me that you need to understand what you’re pulling in versus what you’re paying out. Make sure you balance both, and if financial organization isn’t your thing, pay someone to do it. There have been plenty of times I’ve made mistakes that affected my cash flow. I won’t do that anymore.
- “Know when to pass on an opportunity that doesn’t feel right, no matter how much it is going to pay you.” No amount of money is worth sacrificing your sanity. Trust your gut. Always. In the beginning, I stayed with clients that drained me physically and emotionally. Choose to work with people and projects that leave you feeling inspired, not frustrated.
- “Believe in yourself. You CAN do this.” There are going to be people trying to push you down the more you succeed. Don’t be one of those people for yourself. Silence the critics and be your own biggest fan.