Life Lessons From Mom That Also Apply to a Career in PR

For some of us, “All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” still rings true. Play nice, share with others, don’t interrupt, work hard; the list goes on.

For me, a lot of the advice I call upon in my adult life revolves around what my parents taught me. I use their advice in parenting, how I treat my loved ones – both family and friends – and everything in between. Much of their advice I even apply to my career as a PR executive. In honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to share my thoughts, and those of my teammates, on how Mom’s early lessons stick with us and still help us in our careers today.

momWhen I was young, I struggled with math. Words always came much easier to me. As the daughter of two parents who worked for a national newspaper, you could say it was in the blood. How could I get through this math monkey on my back and change my perspective? My mother taught me that we all have to do things we don’t want to do. We all have to tackle the hard things. Part of life is this yin and yang of easy and hard. So with the assistance of kind teachers, patient parents, and most importantly a change in me, I switched my thinking and began to use the mantra, “I will not give up.” I heeded my mother’s tough advice. She didn’t have a ton of sympathy, but rather told me over and over, “Keep at it, be tough, and do not give up.”

I am no longer tackling Pi or the Pythagorean Theorem, or cringing after being called up to write on the blackboard in math class  - but each day as a PR professional, I am still faced with challenges that call for mental toughness and confidence. This is when the parts of my job that are harder and grittier than others call for my mom’s good old “don’t give up” mantra. This mantra makes for happy clients, solid journalistic relationships and a constant quest for me to deliver top results while striving to do better.

My PerkettPR colleagues shared what they’ve learned from their mothers as well. Here’s a collection of the awesome advice that they still carry with them in their PR careers.

From Christine Perkett

My mother taught me not to undervalue myself – which comes in handy when negotiating as both employer and vendor. My grandmother taught me that men are like street cars — a new one will always come along. I say the same is true clients – not that I don’t appreciate the ones we have (I so do!), but that they come and go and that losing one is not the end of the world.

 From Susan Sweenie:

My mom taught me that even when dealing with someone tough or not interested, just kill them with kindness. 

From Crystal Monahan:

I’ve had the privilege of having two moms in my life – my actual mom and my stepmother. Although different in innumerable ways, they both share one admirable trait that I have tried to emulate in my life and career. They both possess a remarkable work ethic. They work dawn to dusk if necessary. They have held multiple jobs to provide for their families. Nothing is beneath them – if it needs to get done, they do it. They both understand that nothing in life comes free and great pride comes from a job well done.

I’ve always tried to do my best and work my hardest, and have always appreciated the sense of accomplishment at seeing the results of my efforts whether it’s completing monthly status reports on time, writing a solid press release, or seeing my clients in the media.

Whenever I’m feeling lazy, I think about my two moms and I know they’ve probably already accomplished more in a day than many people do in a week, and I’m inspired to get back to work.

From Susie Dougherty:

“Mind your manners…” Something my mom was a stickler about, much to my benefit. I think most of us (well, maybe not as many as I’d like to think) grow up to be mindful of the simple words and gestures that help make us respected adults. But with today’s email and social media – suddenly a lot of those manners have gone out the window. Thanks to my mom for somehow making those words stick –even as the Internet has fundamentally changed in so many ways how we communicate. I’m still using my manners behind my laptop or iPhone or tablet screen – and I know that stands out to clients, reporters and even my own colleagues.”

From Jennifer Hellickson:

My mom’s a big proponent of the Golden Rule – treat others as you’d like to be treated – and this goes a long way in PR. Going that extra mile for both our clients and our colleagues in the media means trying to not only think from their perspective, but also anticipate their needs, as well. This creates a better working environment for everyone and ultimately allows us, as PR professionals, to better serve the company’s mission.

From Heather Bliss :

Mom taught me so many amazing lessons, but one of the most valuable was to be a good listener and problem solver. She has an uncanny ability to be able to listen to ANYONE, and I mean anyone. Whether it’s a family member, friend, colleague or a stranger on the park bench next to her — if they have a problem my mom has the time and patience to listen and to try and help solve it. I learned how to translate some small part of this gift of hers to my work in PR to really listen to clients and understand the issues they face and try to problem solve solutions as my mother would with quickness and calm.

And, fellow PerkettPR staff member (and new mom herself) agrees:

Johanna Lucia adds:

My Mom always taught me the importance of being a good listener. She helped instill this very powerful life skill in me, and when it comes to PR– we need to hear our clients. Listening to our clients’ wants and needs is a vital part of our role and in helping develop effective PR strategies.

What inspirational mom lessons can you share with us? Do you have a favorite piece of advice learned in childhood that still remains a part of your work habit today? Please share your stories in the comments.

“Effective Executives” Series with Beantown Bedding Founders, Kirsten Lambert & Joan Ripple

Here at PerkettPR, we are not only avid Red Sox fans, but many of our employees are proud to call Beantown our “home.”  This week’s interview is with the founders of a  local Massachusetts-based company, Beantown Bedding. Beantown Bedding, LLC was founded in December 2011 by Joan Ripple and Kirsten Lambert, two mothers of college students. The company is located in Hingham, MA, a suburb of Boston (“Beantown”).

The concept behind Beantown Bedding was to offer a solution to busy college students who had little time to launder their sheets.  Beantown Bedding developed a line of linens made from a fiber called Tencel, derived from Eucalyptus trees, which you can simply toss into a compost bin or trash can when they’re dirty. The sheets are both compostable and biodegradable and available for purchase on their website and at Amazon.com.

We caught up with the founders and asked them more about where the idea came from and what they have planned next.

 

Please tell us a little bit about Beantown Bedding and where the idea came from.

We met when our oldest children began dating in high school.  When they each went off to college, we quickly learned that they, like most college students, just didn’t take time to wash their sheets.  The health and hygiene implications were simply gross.  We wanted to find a way for them to have clean sheets without the hassle of laundering. Essentially, we decided to rethink laundry.  We joked about sending them the rolls of paper sheets found in a doctor’s office.

 

We decided to take the idea seriously and began searching for material that would be both comfortable and disposable in an environmentally responsible manner.  Easier said than done!  We identified the material we liked, organized focus groups with students and mothers, and began to explore sources of supply. Once we had a product, we conducted product testing with students from 22 universities over a two-month period.  The findings indicated we had a winner.

 

When you were researching what type of materials to use in your products, where did you turn for information and how long did the process take?

The better part of a year was spent researching the market, fabrics, and supply options. Initially, our secondary research focused on sustainable textiles through sources such as fiber and fabric manufacturers, trade organizations and publications,  trade shows and published white papers and articles.  Our first fabric choice didn’t perform well in the qualitative research stage, so we continued the search until we discovered a fiber called TENCEL®, which offered the properties we wanted… softness, strength, and compostability. Lenzing, the manufacturer of TENCEL®, was instrumental in helping us establish our supply chain and has been tremendously supportive as we’ve grown. In fact, they recently hosted us as part of their Innovation Platform at the Home Textiles Sourcing Expo in New York City.

 

How did your previous education or career prepare you to be a business owner?

While we both have degrees and backgrounds in business, we feel it’s the versatile skills we learned as mothers and volunteer leaders in our communities which best prepared us for our entrepreneurial duties.  Like all entrepreneurs, we wear many hats and must be resourceful. Joan’s Management and Human Resources background nicely complement Kirsten’s marketing and research experience. For everything else, we either learn quickly, consult with experts, or cover the gaps with outsourcing.

 

One extremely valuable resource was the team of graduate students from Stanford University who worked on our business as a class project this past spring.  After presenting our pitch at a competition for startup companies at Stanford last April, we were selected by one of the teams. It was one of many tremendous opportunities we’ve had in bringing bedsox to market.

 

You are passionate about the environment and sustainability especially with your product offerings. What else are you passionate about?

Yes, sustainability is a central theme in our messaging and we’re delighted to have just received USDA certification as 100% Biobased®.   That said, we really love college kids!  Their energy, enthusiasm, work ethic, and desire to make a difference in the world is inspiring.  Our own college kids are the basis for our story, but we’ve worked closely with many others as we’ve researched and gotten to know our primary target market.

 

Our dogs are also an integral part of our story. Since our earliest conversations about the concept, the local dog park has been the venue for many of our strategy sessions. We each have yellow Labrador Retrievers – Fenway and Sunshine, who receive an undue amount of attention since we sent our youngest children off to college. (For the record, the younger kids also dated!)

 

What is next for Beantown Bedding in 2013?

College kids aren’t the only time-starved consumers who can enjoy the convenience of laundry-free linens. We will soon roll out additional sizes of sheet sets to serve markets such as overnight camps, vacation homes and travel.   Though the retail launch was only weeks ago, via our ecommerce site (www.BeantownBedding.com) and Amazon, our wholesale business took off before we received our first inventory.   Universities nationwide began purchasing bedsox this summer for their overnight conferences and events.  As a result, our next steps are to generate awareness for bedsox in both the retail and business sectors.  Fortunately, Beantown Bedding has received quite a bit of media attention in recent weeks to convince consumers to rethink laundry.

 

“Influencers Who Inspire” with Sarah Evans

This week’s influencer interview is with the ever-popular Sarah Evans. Sarah Evans (@prsarahevans) is the Chief Evangelist at Tracky (www.tracky.com), an open social collaboration platform, and owner of Sevans Strategy, a new media consultancy.  It’s her personal mission—to engage and employ the use of emerging technologies in all communication—that connects her with a rapidly growing base of more than 120,000 people.

A self-described “social media freak,” Sarah initiated and moderates #journchat, the weekly live chat between PR professionals, journalists and bloggers on the microblogging platform, Twitter.

Sarah shares her social media and tech favorites on Sarah’s Faves (sarahsfav.es) as well as a daily resource for PR professionals called Commentz.

Sarah previously worked with a local crisis center to raise more than $161,000 via social media and is a team member of the Guiness Book World Record-holding team, #beatcancer.

Sarah can be seen in Vanity Fair’s America’s Tweethearts, Forbes’ 14 Power Women to Follow on Twitter and Entrepreneur’s Top 10 Hot Startups of 2010.

We caught up with this busy entrepreneur and asked her some questions about her favorite social networks, how she grew her business and what she is passionate about.

If you had to choose one social network to use which one would it be and why?

I prefer Instagram (with a direct feed to Twitter and Facebook, LOL). I’m a visual learner and also feel more connected to people through their photos. Instagram allows me a way to share photos in a fun way, let people know where I’m at (i.e. location), add a caption and share the post across other networks.

And, although, it’s not a social network, my employer Tracky (www.tracky.com) is ahead of the game in celebrating all that is good in open, social collaboration.

You have had some interesting clients. Which one has been your favorite and why?

I’ve loved working with all of our clients, most recently taking on the role as Chief Evangelist of Tracky, an open social collaboration platform. Asking a PR person to choose a “fave” is tough! I have to go with my current role. I’ve spent so much time promoting and writing about tech startups that I ended up working directly with one. In fact, I’m relocating my entire family to Las Vegas to take on this latest adventure. That’s how much I believe in the platform. In my life, I don’t do anything unless it’s 100 percent. Tracky is my favorite because co-founders David and Jennifer Gosse not only eat, breathe and sleep the platform, they are passionate about creating a better way for people to get things done (#GTD).

What blogs/newspapers/magazines do you read daily?

If I gave you the entire list, it might make your head spin. ;) I keep a blog roll over at Sarah’s Faves (http://sarahsfav.es) where people can see my favorite media outlets. Here are a few:

How do I keep up with all them you might ask? For each, I use a combination of its tasks, emails and mobile Twitter alerts. All of these outlets are set up so that I see what they post real-time from my phone.

You grew your PR consultancy pretty quickly. What was your strategy and how did you make it happen?

From the outside (or social side) it probably appeared “very fast.” However, a lot of work was put in behind-the-scenes for a few years. In fact, for at least a year I was both working a full-time day job and freelancing in the evenings and on weekends.

My strategy?

1. Build a network when I don’t need one.

2. If I couldn’t get experience I needed in my day job, hustle to get it off the clock.

3. Have at least three clients on retainer by the time I started the business.

What PR campaign in social media has been successful this year? Why and how did it become successful?

There are so very many. Is it cliché to once again say I can’t pick one? What I can do is share the attributes I believe made many successful:

  • They disrupt. Think a bit of “not playing it safe,” mixed with a different or better way of doing things. Even klouchebag.com challenged the status quo and got some good press.
  • They allow people to do these three things: personalize, participate and portable (i.e. available on mobile).
  • They have a lot of time and money behind them. The most successful integrated marketing and communications campaigns typically have either a lot of time or money (or both) backing them. Granted it takes talent to put them together, but again that means time and money.

Can you tell us a little about Sarah’s Faves?

Boy, can I. Sarah’s Faves is my latest passion project. I think my tagline sums it up, “All my geeky favorites, in one nerdtastic place.” I only write about things I really like and think others would, too. It’s a personal recommendation site.

What are you passionate about outside of work?

My family, including my husband, 10-month-old son and our two furry babies. Sleep. Fashion.

What is next for you in 2012?
A big cross country move to Las Vegas.

More speaking and interacting with others passionate about social media and technology.

A new web show called Track Stars I’ll be shooting inside the Switch SuperNAP.

A few surprises I can’t mention right now. ;)

 

 

Effective Executive: Akemi Williams, TeetheMe.com

This week’s Effective Executive interview is with Akemi Williams, a busy mother who has founded an exciting new baby products business called TeetheMe.com. TeetheMe is a monthly subscription service that delivers functional and fun baby products to parents on a monthly basis. Subscribers receive mini care packages that arrive just at the right moment and are for children ages newborn to 3-years-old.

We caught up with Akemi and asked her some questions about what inspired her to start her own business and the challenges she has faced in doing so.

What inspired you to create Teetheme?

As a busy, working mother of a 3-year-old little girl, I found myself completely overwhelmed by all of the baby products on the market today. I knew there had to be a simpler and more efficient way to find quality baby products that would grow with my child. I founded TeetheMe.com to do just that!

How long did it take to get your Company up and running after creating the concept? Did you encounter any obstacles along the way?

It took me about 6 months and I was still working my corporate publishing job while launching TeetheMe. I think everyone who starts any company encounters obstacles! But as I have learned, it really is all about the journey and I am having so much fun and absolutely love going to work every day.

How do you explain your career and your Company to your daughter?

She thinks mommy works with babies all day long! She loves learning about all of the products that mommy brings home and pretends to use some of them on her babies! It’s too cute!

What excites you most about your job?

I am so fortunate to wake up every day and do something that I am truly passionate about. I love working with other mompreneurs as well as meeting real moms and being able to relate to what they are going through as parents. TeetheMe is not just a service; it’s a community of real moms going through real life experiences. We are all, every day still trying to figure it all out and to be the best parents we can be. I am so honored to be a part of this process with thousands of moms!

You have a social community for moms launching soon. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

Baby bragging without boundaries or worries! Subscribers are granted access to our exclusive user-controlled Teether Social Network where the parent-to-parent connections are priceless and no milestone is too little to share! We have created a place where parents can share every last detail about their child. Post photo albums, organize play dates or just update fellow Teethers on their little one’s sleep schedule in our safe and secure network.

The review section of our community is a place where like-minded parents rate, review and share their experiences on the latest products, giving you an invaluable buyers’ edge in today’s overstuffed market. The information provided through our community will help you make smarter, more informed and most importantly, time saving buying decisions for your little Teether.

Do you have any hobbies or passions outside of work?

I love to read (what mom isn’t reading 50 Shades of Grey right now?), a good spin class and spending time on the beach! I’m also very involved with my church and can’t live without my weekly bible study with some amazing ladies!

What is next for you in 2012?

Focusing on the growth and expansion of TeetheMe! And, continuing to have fun while I do it! Spending as much time as I can with my daughter, family and friends. Life is all about balance!

“Influencers Who Inspire” with Laura Fitton (@Pistachio)

Our influencer Q&A today is with well-known inbound marketing evangelist, Laura Fitton. Laura “@Pistachio” Fitton is the founder of www.oneforty.com, founder and principal of Pistachio Consulting, co-author of “Twitter for Dummies“ and the inbound marketing evangelist at HubSpot. We had the chance to ask her some questions about her career, her passions and what 2012 has in store for her.

Who has been the most fascinating person you have ever met?

My daughter, S. How cliched is that? She is so unlike me. She is so preternaturally gentle and wise. I watch how she is with her little sister and how she “manages” me. I learn so very much from her. Fascination is actually the perfect word to describe it. Gobloads of overwhelming maternal love, but also a great deal of fascination and respect for what is amazing and special about her.

 

What do you love most about social media? What bugs you about social media?

The humans. I love the humans, deeply, even if I don’t always express it well or understand how best to make them feel good about themselves. I love trying to help people feel more excited, become more connected and try things that they might not otherwise give themselves the chance to try.

 

As a busy mom of two, how do you prioritize?

Pretty poorly, sometimes.  One thing I do well is rotate priorities over time. For example, my kids missed out on a lot of time and attention during the crunch years of oneforty.com, and they’re getting a lot more of my time and attention now that my life is in better balance. When my childcare situation blew up at the end of February, I took it as a hint from the universe to do something I’d long dreamed of. I took a temporary 20% paycut to spend Tuesdays at home with my daughters. It’s an amazing privilege to be able to do that and I’m incredibly grateful to HubSpot for the flexibility (this alone should tell you what an amazing employer they are!). My youngest starts school full time in September, so I’m squeezing every drop out of the last few “home all day” months.

I also regret to say that I threw my (romantic) personal life completely under the train during the oneforty.com years. It was what I felt I had to do at the time, but it was probably a mistake. No biggie, lesson learned. We always grow from stuff like this. I’m really enjoying the process of establishing a new social life – both new friends and potential dates – and the cool events and activities I’m going to regularly as a part of it.

 

How do you explain your career to your children?

Some stuff – mommy had a company, mommy is at HubSpot now, etc. they know in great detail. I brought them to HubSpot’s last company meeting because it fell on my “SAHM Tuesday.” Ditto for General Catalyst’s big annual networking event. They’ve been to a number of networking events because I want them to see themselves as part of the technology, business and cultural worlds from the get go. Gratitude to Halley Suitt for encouraging me to try this years ago.

Other stuff – mostly around my “visibility” (readership, press, awards, hype about me) – they have little to no idea about, and I try hard to keep it that way. One hugely proud moment was S____ blurting out “Mommy, what’s Twitter?” in a quiet moment at a MSNerd networking event, only a couple of years ago. She knew I had a book and a company, but I try to keep that weird side of my life away from my kids. She has a vague sense of it now, but she asks “Mommy, will you share this picture of me with your friends?” with no sense of what that really means.

In general we talk about it in terms they will understand and can relate to their own lives. For example, they know about YouTube because we have watched it together for years, and they have their own YouTube channel now. But, I don’t link to or promote that channel from my social media accounts partly for privacy and partly to keep it a small, quiet place for them to explore.

 

What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far?

Hands down it’s my daughters. Period. End of story.

 

You have always spoken about the business potential of Twitter. Do you still feel as passionate about this?

Yes. Very much so. I guess I’m a lot quieter about it lately. The passion didn’t go anywhere though. My Webvisions Portland keynote, planned for May 17th, should make that clear.

 

Do you have any hobbies or passions?

Too too many! Ice hockey, yoga, horseback riding, rock climbing, gardening, pets (we have a cat, two dogs and four chickens!), amazing food, adventure and travel. I’m lucky to have had the chance to reconnect with almost all of that since the acquisition of oneforty last August.

I’m training to do my first race – of any kind – this summer with the Tough Mudder at Mt. Snow in July. Ten to twelve miles of running up ski slopes, dozens of “bootcamp” style obstacles and electroshocks at the end. Somehow seemed a fitting way to mark turning 40.

My biggest passion remains trying to help people and make a difference. Coming to work every day to spread the story of how inbound marketing helps businesses grow – and therefore creates jobs – ignites that core passion very much.

 

What is next for you in 2012?

The rate of on-the-job learning for me at HubSpot is just awesome. I’m so excited to help get the incredible work HubSpot and its customers are doing more widely known out in the world, because I know that it can help others to a tremendous degree.

It’s amazing to be at a company with 6500 customers and a marketing community of MILLIONS of people. It’s even more exciting to realize only a tiny fraction of that community realizes that we’re a software company. We’ve been so selfless in our marketing efforts for years that some huge number of people think we’re an agency.

As that changes, and marketers realize we’ve got this really HELPFUL all-in-one software, we can help even more businesses grow while stamping out crappy marketing. We think marketing can be this really noble profession that provides incredible value to those who receive marketing messages. That’s the wave of the future – selfish marketing perishes and marketing that people love helps businesses thrive.