By Natalie Meek
One of the sessions at PRSSA National Conference was a Q&A between PR professionals Deirdre Breckenridge, from Pure Performance Communications and Taylor Ray, Orsbon from Geben Communications.During this conversation, these women took turns asking each other about their experiences and the advice they had for the students in the audience. Below is a recap of their insightful questions and responses.
Why do you do what you do?
Deirdre explained to us that she wanted to help solve any issues and find new ways of putting people together by bridging the gaps in the relationships of businesses. She said, “I love the challenge of being in the business as a problem solver. What comes out of these relationships is a type of collaboration that can have amazing effects.”
What kinds of things do you do to build relationships?
This question was also answered by Deirdre, who said that you have to start with listening. People come with preconceived notions, all you need to do is to put your agenda aside to listen and hear about other people along with what they have to say about their business and ideas. You can then take your original questions and ask them in a better way that is specific to their company. Some relationships are gonna come and go, no doubt about it, but by starting online with “Hello” can be a kick start to a powerful partnership. She said, “In the beginning of a relationship, you’re going to give a lot. But if you take the time, boy does that come back. The universe always speaks back to you. You do that with friends and peers, with the media, with bloggers, and with customers. That’s my best approach.”
What advice would you give to professionals that want to start their own business?
Taylor explained the importance of having a strong support system of friends, family and advisors to seek counsel when you need it. She said that you should always reach out to people you look up to. “Building a strong support system will help you through the tough times and help you celebrate the good times. There is going to be failure. Find the opportunity and positives in the stuff that doesn’t go right.” She told us how at Geben Communications they have a series of principles that they use within the company and the public. These principles are the core values of all their services and business. Her favorite saying is embrace the crazy. When a situation gets tough don’t fight it- embrace it!
What are the characteristics of the entrepreneur and what are things that you’ve learned from having to build up?
Taylor said that entrepreneurs are people who are natural self starters. Starting a business requires initiative, positivity and the ability to take a challenge and turn it into an opportunity. Entrepreneurs want to make an impact in the world around them--they want to leave their footprint and they aren’t afraid of failure. Deirdre agreed, saying,“You can’t teach passion, and you also have to believe in yourself. Innovation and vision are also always important. Think big.” Taylor explained that through building up Geben Communications, she learned to share her ideas with others. “What you know on day one is going to be very different hate what you know on day 30,” she explains. Everyone will handle problems differently, and change is unavoidable. It’s incredibly important to be prepared to change the ways in which you do things on a constant basis. It’s okay to celebrate the little moments and take challenges head on. Balance your work and your life. If you don’t have balance then you won’t be your best self, nor as efficient and present. She says that she has learned to take time for herself, to balance her work and social life. From 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. she turns her phone off, saying that it gives her peace and it lets her brain heal. Deirdre pointed out how she has learned the importance of keeping her family around her. She said that her daughter grew up in her agency because she didn’t want to send her to a neighbor or a babysitter. She has been able to integrate her family into her business life.
What energizes you?
Deirdre told us how she has so much adrenaline running through her. “I wake up everyday in my home office, and I get to see my family. That starts my energy.” She explained that whether it be teaching, consulting, book writing or speaking, you have to rely on the fact that you’re going to build relationships all the time. Those people that you meet- you will feed off of them. They’re learning, and she’s learning--education powers everyone.
What’s a bad position that you often see entrepreneurs put themselves in?
Taylor told us that it is so important to build your product and service first. Some people are too focused on marketing and branding right away. You can’t always focus on what the product is going to be in the future. Deirdre agreed saying that they always think they need to start with marketing and promotion.. It’s in your product and not the sale.
Overall, this session was incredibly helpful and engaging!
Natalie Meek is a freshman public relations major at Kent State. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.