Michelle Messenger Garrett, is a results-driven PR consultant, strategist and award-winning writer with more than 20 years of experience working with companies ranging in size from start-ups to large corporations such as HP, Adobe and Symantec. After spending seven years in Silicon Valley, she returned to her roots in Ohio where she leads her own consulting practice, specializing in media outreach and writing for companies who want to get noticed, especially those in the tech, B2B, manufacturing and industrial vertical markets.
Michelle has worked with clients around the world, placing hundreds of stories in publications such as USA Today, Forbes and Inc., and securing client appearances on TV news outlets including 60 Minutes and the ABC Evening News. Michelle’s articles have been featured in Entrepreneur, Ragan’s PR Daily, CIO, Muck Rack, SheKnows, AllBusiness and Small Businesses Do It Better. She is also a contributing writer for the Organization of Canadian Women in Public Relations.
Name: Michelle Messenger Garrett
Business Name: Garrett Public Relations
Education: Bachelor of Arts, Journalism and Political Science, The Ohio State University
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Describe yourself in 3 words: Professional, Driven, Genuine
What inspired you to start your own PR agency? – I wouldn’t call my business an “agency,” but I did launch my own consulting practice for several reasons. One, I knew I could provide better service at a lower cost. I saw the challenges for clients working with agencies. They’d be paying premium prices, but the work would be assigned to junior associates. Two, I wanted more flexibility than I could have working for someone else. I wanted a family, and it was important to me to be able to spend time with my kids.
What was your first job in public relations and what did you take away from the experience? – My first experience working in PR was in a job I had while I was in college that was more of an administrative assistant role. As part of that, I started working with editors who would contact us for information. I really enjoyed collaborating with them. I got to do some writing, too—writing has always been my passion. From there, I fell in love with PR and decided to pursue it full-time.
How do you prioritize and start your work day?- I usually “warm up” by checking social media and posting or scheduling posts (I use Buffer) for that day. I manage several social media accounts for clients, as well as my own, so this can take a little time. I enjoy it and it gives me an idea of what’s happening and what’s in the news. Then, I review my list of “to dos” and pull out what needs to be prioritized. If I have writing to do, I try to tackle that earlier in the day, leaving tasks that are less intense for the afternoon. I also like to write when I have a chunk of time, as opposed to 15 minutes here or there—that’s too difficult.
Have you had any challenges in your PR career? Any specific challenges as a woman in PR? – I think we all experience challenges. The best thing we can do as women is be supportive of each other and nurture each other. For example, when I launched my consulting business, I had a few female friends who were also PR consultants, but we never experienced any issues of a competitive nature. We referred work to each other and sometimes even collaborated on projects. The spirit was that there was plenty of work to go around for everyone. The truth is that not every client or project is a fit, so we need other resources to refer work to. There’s enough work to go around for everyone, so just support each other.
What is your greatest achievement in your PR career?- Successfully launching my business is definitely one of them. Another milestone was the day my first article was published on Entrepreneur. And, being named a Top 100 PR Influencer. That was pretty big!
What are your tips for setting yourself apart in the PR workplace?-
Be someone who cares. It shows when you don’t. If you put in your best effort and go above and beyond to find ways to add value, it can make you stand out from the crowd. Some people really excel at that—at seeing a problem and just solving it—they don’t complain, they don’t dilly-dally around, they just get in there and solve it. I think that’s really valuable, if you can be that kind of employee.
What advice would you give to your younger self?- Believe in yourself. Follow your passion and your gut. Always seek out mentors along the way.
How can a new PR graduate set themselves apart in the hiring process?- Build a portfolio. Include your strongest writing samples—writing is a skill that is always valuable. So many in business (not just PR, but in any career) aren’t strong writers. The best way to improve your writing is to write—so seek out opportunities to write. Practice and prepare for interviews. Do your homework. Rehearse answering questions. Practice in front of a mirror or just practice in your car, as you’re driving along. Be ready to ask the interviewer some good questions, too.
What’s next? – I’ve really concentrated on doing more writing myself in the past few years and I am regularly published on PR Daily and Muck Rack. I’ve also been published on Entrepreneur. So, I’d like to continue to ramp up my efforts in this area. I’ve produced enough content now that people are seeing it and it’s helping my business. Those who might hire me, like marketing agencies and small businesses, see my columns and contact me for projects. Social media and content marketing have been a great way for me to market myself through doing something I enjoy. I’ve learned so much that I can also apply it to my client work by using myself as a guinea pig. I really believe in the power of social media and content marketing.
Connect with Michelle Messenger Garrett here.