The Small Girls PR Cofounder Gives 5 Tips on Leadership

  • Small Girls PR CEO Mallory Blair was a university graduate when she began her boutique agency.
  • The company is now a longtime public-relations and influencer-marketing company.
  • Blair shared 5 suggestions on how new company house owners can construct a enterprise within the aggressive business.
  • See extra tales on Insider’s enterprise web page.

On the eve of her school commencement in 2010, Mallory Blair emailed Bianca Caampued — an acquaintance she’d recognized for under six months — telling her to stop her job so they might begin an organization collectively.

The two first met when Caampued crashed Blair’s 21st party, however they quickly shaped a connection over their complementary ability units. Blair had labored a number of jobs all through school on media and market analysis and had her finger on the heart beat of tradition and shopper habits, whereas Caampued was a full-time media and PR supervisor.

Blair and Caampued bootstrapped the company themselves. They could not even afford to ship press releases over the wire and as a substitute tailor-made their pitches to particular person reporters.

Since launching in 2010, their firm, Small Girls PR, has develop into an influential public-relations boutique agency with 33 shoppers, together with General Electric, Samsung, and Olay.

“If you had told me that I’d be sitting here with you almost 11 years later with that same company and now have nearly 70 employees, I would laugh,” Blair stated.

The firm’s backside line can be rising. It grew income final yr 20% yr over yr regardless of the pandemic and tasks related progress in 2021, Blair stated. She added that the company’s income had reached eight figures.

Blair revealed 5 suggestions PR execs trying to strike out on their very own ought to know earlier than launching an organization.

Embrace traits earlier than they develop into traits

Blair stated Small Girls established itself by focusing on influencer advertising and social-media platforms earlier than PR companies had recognized “influencer” as a time period or a enterprise.

They known as it “‘downtown cool-kid tastemaker marketing,’ which is a much bigger mouthful,” she stated.

“If you hear from a lot of people, ‘Oh, no, that’ll never work or, no, that’s just a fad,’ that to me is a signal that you have white space and there probably aren’t a lot of other people that are doing what you’re doing,” Blair stated. “So why not go hard and lean into that?”

They obtained into influencer advertising by way of a second of inspiration. Caampued, scrolling by way of a costume website in 2011, stated she wished she might put on a promenade costume daily. That offhand remark resulted in a marketing campaign for wherein Blair and Caampued wore promenade attire daily for 30 days.

Marketers picked up on the marketing campaign and reached out to Small Girls to guide influencer campaigns. It turned a brand new area of interest for Small Girls, although Blair and Caampued stepped again from being the point of interest themselves, letting content material creators take the highlight.

Get inspiration out of your obsessions

Blair wasn’t conversant in PR conventions when she and Caampued began Small Girls. But as an early Twitter and Tumblr person, she was obsessed with artistic communities and fads.

Those obsessions have fueled Small Girls’ distinctive campaigns for blue-chip firms like GE, its first main consumer. 

Blair and Caampued labored across the clock for 2 days straight to provide you with the 50-page stunt marketing campaign to win the account. The outcome was a GE occasion at South by Southwest in 2013 that used a robotic barista to sketch photos onto a latte’s foam.

It was difficult, Blair stated, connecting popular culture to an enormous tech conglomerate like GE and making that message fascinating for South by Southwest patrons.

Don’t look forward to the story to return to you

Anyone should purchase advert placements, however the actual trick is incomes protection from journalists and influencers.

“We make news when there isn’t any,” Blair stated.

For occasion, Small Girls PR helped Olay promote its Ribbons physique wash by giving influencers like Sarah Hyland a water-resistant e-book, readable within the tub, that includes content material from six girls about their physique transformations.

The marketing campaign inspired influencers to publish photos displaying how the physique wash moisturized their pores and skin, which obtained protection in Marie Claire and Glamour in addition to social-media traction.

Blair’s standards for sussing out whether or not a marketing campaign concept is value pitching is easy: “Is it the kind of thing that you would text your friends?”

She tends to frown upon sure kinds of pitches, like contests.

“Would you ever text your friend to enter a contest?” Blair stated. “You probably wouldn’t. So it’s probably not actually a PR idea.”

Protect workers from burnout, however house owners should embrace it

Blair was all the time busy. She labored a number of jobs in school. She was a VJ and visitor host for MTV’s college-focused community, MTVU; launched Paper Magazine’s first video channel; and did market analysis for Apple and Microsoft.

That hustle extends to her work at Small Girls, however the rise of “hustle culture” has met its reverse drive: burnout. The pandemic made professionals notably conscious of that risk.

Small Girls limits director-level and junior staffers to a few or 4 accounts, and it has stopped operations throughout powerful information cycles just like the killing of Daunte Wright and the January 6 Capitol riot.

Small Girls additionally presents

workshops and medical advantages that embrace virtual-therapy periods.

“It’s really important to protect the burnout of your team members and your employees, because they are not owners in the business, and you can’t expect them to operate as the owner,” Blair stated.

But for founders, totally different standards apply. “As the owner,” Blair stated, “I never thought it was appropriate for burnout to exist in my own vocabulary.”

Be ready to fireplace a consumer

Blair in contrast the agency-client dynamic to courting. Sometimes issues do not work out, and you must allow them to go.

Sometimes the cut up occurs over artistic variations.

A consumer may need “traditional executive thought leadership,” which Small Girls prefers to do together with artistic companies, Blair stated. “That’s not going to be the best fit for Small Girls, and we’d be happy to refer that elsewhere.”

Small Girls has additionally launched shoppers for mistreating the agency’s workers.

“One of my account coordinators said last week: ‘I’d rather take the losses than lose the win,'” Blair stated. “It would be shortsighted to be like, ‘Oh, we need this one client.’ Actually, we need these 10 employees. I’m looking at the big picture: What makes you proud to be a leader?”

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