As an editor, I rely pretty heavily of publicists to keep me abreast of what new and upcoming from brands we love. Given that we cover fashion, beauty, weddings, kids and so much more here at SHEfinds, we work with a lot of pr teams. One of my favorite, though? GG Benitez! The San Diego-based publicist and I have been working together for years and when I tell you she is good, she is good. Get to know her, and how she built her business from the ground up, below.
SHEfinds: Tell us a little about how you got started in PR? Who are some of your clients?
GG Benitez: After several years in pharmaceutical sales, I decided I wanted to be my own boss. I dabbled in a few different industries, and in 2004, I started a fashion brand with my best friend called “Tuni & G.” The line featured “Mommy & Me” clothing with coordinating graphics such as “Don’t ya wish your mommy was hot like mine?/Don’t ya?.” We landed boutiques and children’s stores across the country, including Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s.
I wanted to generate as much buzz as possible for the brand to help push retailer and web sales, so I figured out, on my own, how to seed the brand with A-list celebrities and secure consistent media attention ranging from local San Diego news shows to national press like The TODAY Show, People Magazine, and US Weekly.
Other companies began calling our customer service line to ask who our PR firm was, and I didn’t understand; I was under the impression only celebrities hired publicists. And then it clicked: I was our publicist.
Towards the end of 2008, we were having trouble keeping up with manufacturing costs. A local San Diego businesswoman with a kids’ entertainment group called me for an order, and I saw an opening to ask if the group had PR representation. She said they were on the verge of signing a large NY-based agency, and right then and there, I decided to “sell” her on my PR services based on my own brand’s success. This got me the opportunity to meet with her board a few days later.
After that phone call, I read every book PR and Marketing book I could get my hands on. I also called a fabulous publicist friend and asked her to partner with me as a mentor on the campaign. I created business cards online and drafted a professional proposal to present at the meeting. I won this first client and hit the ground running – the group went from local malls to performing at Hollywood celebrity birthday parties and being all over the news!
Within a few weeks, the co-founder of the highly successful Canadian-based label company Mabel’s Labels read about my work on an editor’s Facebook page and reached out to me to help them break into U.S press. They became my 2nd client, and are still my client eight years later. Each year, my PR business continued to grow through word-of-mouth and the quality of results I secure for my clients.
SF: What’s one thing people would find surprising about working in PR/running your own company?
GB: The intensity of it all! You’re constantly in a position where you’re working to achieve your clients’ goals, while simultaneously respecting the media’s needs and time. What might surprise those not in PR is that you need to consider the media as you do your own client.
SF: What’s been the hardest part of running your own PR business?
GB: Managing unrealistic expectations can be quite difficult. Clients don’t always understand that there is a strategy and science behind PR, and what placements are valuable for one client might not be so for another. I’m very transparent from the beginning of any campaign about what realistic expectations are and why the most successful campaigns are slow and steady, not an overnight sensation.
SF: What’s your best advice to people looking to break into the PR business?
GB: Decide if you are someone who works better as a boss, or under a boss. I knew from the get-go I wanted to be my own boss. Although that meant that I was never going to be handed clients and I held the responsibility of getting–and maintaining–new business, the benefits outweighed the risks.
If you decide to launch your own PR firm, learn about the type of industry you’re interested in focusing on and learn as much as you can about how to communicate effectively to that target consumer through the media. And above all, be a person of integrity and character, no matter what challenges you face. Your name will become your brand, so make it a strong one!
SF: If you weren’t running your own PR company, what would you be doing?
GB: I would be either traveling or have a travel agency. Aside from PR, I passionately love to travel and explore the world!