Lisa Smith ran her own successful public relationships company in Australia for over a decade, before moving to New York to establish The PR Net; her vision was to connect like-minded industry types. Here she shares her expertise on what a successful marketing strategy looks like today.
Quintessentially: What is The PR Net?
Lisa Smith: It’s a membership-based networking community for marketing, communications, media professionals, creative entrepreneurs, and anyone who has a product or a service that fits into that ecosystem. Our website and newsletter are resources that share industry trends and information, as well as job posts, an events calendar and other relevant content. Event programming is also a really big part of what we do. We launched in 2014 with a networking breakfast at a hotel and that spun off into a series. Now we are a roving group that meets for networking purposes at incredible venues all over New York City, Los Angeles and as of this month, San Francisco. We also provide cultural events and industry panels – for example, we recently did a panel in LA on influencer marketing for and are hosting our annual event at The Armory Show soon.
How important is having connections in business?
It’s 100 percent about contacts and I’ve always tried to help people connect, because a warm introduction will always open doors. I had my own PR company in Australia and business was good, but I had this crazy idea I wanted to live in New York, so I sold my business and moved with my husband. The greatest challenge, over and above parenting two children, was reinventing myself and my career from scratch. Initially, I did freelance consulting for agencies and brands to get a sense of the local landscape and try to integrate. In the beginning, I tried cold calling for new clients, but it was difficult without connections. I had a kind friend - who's now become a global influencer- reach out on my behalf – and then people responded. I always pay that forward.
Is this how PRNet was conceived?
Yes. During one of my contracts I was assigned to find partners and venues for Fashion Week and I realised there weren’t a lot of resources. I also saw a shift in PR; it was starting to transform from being pure media relations into being composed of a lot of collaborations and partnerships. I then realised it was in a person’s interest to have alliances with other people in their field and complimentary industries. If you're in fashion for example, the fact that you have contacts in beauty, hospitality, and automotive will really work. That’s how I got the idea for PR Net.
What was behind the change in the PR industry?
Everything’s become more collaborative. Historically, in fashion and in PR it was a bit like Mean Girls; people weren't necessarily the friendliest with their peers and business was much more competitive. Now, when I see people at our events, everyone’s there with an open mind and a desire to meet people and partner with them. There’s nothing I love more than hearing stories about how partnerships came to be from those connections. It feels more inclusive now and that’s part of what's going on at a much broader level. I’ve met a lot of kind, genuine people through The PR Net and I think that prevails now in the industry.
What advice do you have for those wanting to market their brand or product?
Anyone in PR now knows their job is multi-faceted. You have to understand the influencer marketing and engagement. You need to offer events that are experiential and that include social media. Media relations are still part of things, but they make up a much smaller slice of the pie. Partnerships and collaborations are a strong part of it, and companies and their clients need to plugged into the cultural pulse. Marketing is quite an investment, so you must fully understand what your end goals are, and then provide your PR and marketing team with the resources and tools they need, to create a successful campaign strategy.
Share your best piece of professional advice.
You need perseverance across all rungs of the business world. Whether you're trying to get into PR, communications, marketing, or any industry in fact. People are so busy; they get so many emails, so rather than giving something just one shot and then deciding it doesn’t work, you must work hard to stay on someone's radar.
To learn more about The PR Net or upcoming Quintessentially and The PR Net events, contact your lifestyle manager.