Public relations is a tough, highly competitive and fast-based business. One woman entrepreneur making her mark in this field is Kristin Marquet, President of Marquet Communications, a full service public relations and branding firm for the fashion and beauty industries.
We talked to Kristin about how she started in the public relations and marketing field, the challenges she faced and her advice to small business entrepreneurs on marketing their businesses:
What made you decide to be in the public relations and branding field?
When I graduated from college, my first job was working as the head of marketing for a law firm. But after working long hours with limited vacation time, office politics, and the routine schedule – getting up every morning at 6:00AM, going to the gym, then going to work and being chained to my desk, I decided to take the leap of faith, quit, go out on my own and start my own company.
Marketing, public relations and branding were areas of business that always interested me. When I was younger, I was fascinated by how people became famous, how the media worked and how different stories were selected, how product/services brands were built, and how sales and marketing are built on the principles of human behavior.
Your public relations business focuses mainly on the fashion and beauty industries. What made you decide to work primarily for these industries?
When I was in my early twenties, I was a high fashion model represented by various modeling agencies in New York City. I became acquainted with various luxury fashion, accessory, and beauty brands and I fell in love with the quality and details that each brand offered.
Moreover, the fashion and beauty industries have so much to offer in terms of events. There are always product launches, sample sales, galas and fundraisers, and a variety of other events.
More recently, I’ve also become the accessory editor to the online magazine, Stylemom.com, a high end publication that covers various aspects of fashion and beauty.
What are the advantages to focusing on a narrower segment, especially for small businesses?
Small businesses usually have limited funds for marketing, so we have to be resourceful. We have to use all the tools that are available to us, like publicity and public relations. Additionally, when we pick a smaller niche to target, it is much easier to market effectively because we are not spreading ourselves thin by trying to be everything to everyone.
What were the challenges you faced when starting the business?
Just like any business owner, I encountered all sorts of problems, but the largest problems I had were with the legal aspects of my business – contracts, agreements, and joint ventures. I didn’t have the funds to hire an attorney to draft the contracts in the beginning, so I bartered. Bartering can be very effective if done properly.
The public relations field is one of the most fiercely competitive markets in the business world. What are the factors helping Marquet Communications make its mark in this dynamic and fast paced industry?
You have that right, PR is so competitive. There are thousands of PR companies here in NY and in LA. I have taken a very concentrated approach to marketing by taking on clients that come as referrals, contact me through a byline in an article or an interview or by contacting me through one of the seminars/workshops I’ve hosted/attended. I have a very specific niche in the fashion, accessory, and beauty industries and only cater to those types of businesses. The companies I represent gross between 300k to 1MM and are located in the United States.
What services does Marquet Communications offer?
Marquet Communications is a full service public relations and branding company. We offer everything from SEM/SEO, online and offline PR – press releases, media kits, publicity plans – pitching the media to get interviews in print, TV, radio and online, bylined articles, marketing plans for start ups and established businesses that are looking to expand into new markets, copywriting advertisements, web copy, ghostwritten articles, e-books, whitepapers, and annual reports, market entry and market penetration, and branding plans – defining a product/service in a specific market.
You work from home with a staff of freelancers and virtual assistants. What are the key elements a small business owner needs to remember when managing people?
The most important thing is to manage and supervise your employees. If you are the President of the company, your job is to oversee the daily operations of the business. Delegate responsibility.
I pretty much oversee operations and make sure all of my freelancers are making deadlines, make sure my clients are happy, and make sure my virtual assistants are keeping my schedule – events, projects, travel, managing my timesheets for my clients, and all of the other administrative work that a regular administrative assistant would do.
What are the challenges you face in terms of running a home-based business?
Running a business from home is difficult because there is not a separate building from my home. In fact, my office is my living room, so if I am not feeling well one day, I may just work from another room in the house, which is not always the ideal setting because of distractions – the TV, boyfriend/family/friends, telephone, neighbors, etc.
However, for the most part, it has been working for me ever since I have opened my doors three years ago.
What advice can you give to other small and home-based business owners in terms of marketing their business?
Create a marketing plan and budget, don’t overextend yourself by taking out advertisements that are one full page, unless you know you are going to make money or least break even, find ways to market your business cost-effectively through sponsorships, pitching the local media, writing articles (if you like to write), offer your expertise to a local journalist or reporter so they rely on you for material, and never stop marketing no matter what happens. Study the professionals such as Dan Kennedy, John Carlton, Joe Polish, Joan Stewart, Paul Hartunian, Bill Stoller and Clayton Makepeace. Learn from the best so you can become the best in your industry.
Are there any public relations secrets you can share for a startup?
Yes, create a simple publicity plan. Make a list of the top 10 journalists that cover your industry news and trends, read his or her articles/columns for a few weeks, get a feel for their style of writing and pitch them through email. Network with journalists and reporters through linkedin.com and beautiesonthego.com. Join different groups and get involved in conversations.
Make a name for yourself in the online world – forums, social networking sites, message boards, etc. Write articles for ehow.com, ezinearticles.com, and articlealley.com to help with SEO process and your website (while you’re at it, make some money for yourself too, by writing articles on ehow.com). Offer to guest write for blogs that are in your industry. Start your own blog and link to other sites to gain traffic.
Always remember, it takes time to build a brand, but once you have one, make sure you take care of it by monitoring what is being said about it through signing up for Google Alerts.
Any other advice to would-be women entrepreneurs out there?
Self-employment is not easy; it takes a lot of risk and resiliency. You have to be willing to adapt to the economy.
Self-employment takes such a huge time commitment that can range anywhere from 25 hours a week for a freelance business to 70 hours a week for a fulltime business.
It may take many sleepless nights to get the business off the ground in the beginning. Patience and persevere are what bring success. Once you get it though, all the hours you put in, make it worth while.