Nicole Rodrigues is the CEO and Founder of NRPR Group, an agency based in Beverly Hills, CA.
She’s a seasoned publicist and social media marketing pro with 17 years of experience under her belt, executing strategic campaigns for some of the biggest names in the business such as Yahoo!, Dolby, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony PlayStation, Hulu, M-GO, Toon Hero, Demand Media, MobiTV, and the Oakland Raiders.
Nicole is the host of PRfect Pitch, a PR-focused radio show that’s geared towards helping PR, marketing, and media professionals step up their game by incorporating best practices and developing better relationships. She is a member of the Forbes Agency Council, an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Nicole is an advisory council member for The Organization of American Women in Public Relations (Women in PR USA) and is also a board member for Fremont College.
She tells Women in PR USA that she takes great pride in being a former NFL cheerleader, spending many years cheering for the famed Oakland Raiders! She continues to cheer on her “new team” at NRPR and is a graduate of San Jose State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Relations.
Education: Bachelor of Science Degree, Public Relations
Location: Beverly Hills, CA
What inspired you to start your own business? What made you decide to take the leap?
I knew I always wanted to be a business owner, specifically a PR agency owner but didn’t know how and when it would happen. After 13 years of moving up the ranks in my career, I finally had my “Jerry Maguire” moment and knew I needed to create a PR agency that pushed the industry forward. My vision was to create an agency that truly developed systems that worked for media, clients, AND my team, to ensure everyone involved got what they wanted.
I wanted to be sure my agency set a prime example for what an “agency of the future” looked like and operated. No email blasts and lazy pitching. Leg work and relationship building are at our core.
I’m proud to say NRPR Group is and stands for what I had hoped and we’ve moved from brand new to one of the top PR agencies in the Los Angeles area in less than three years.
What was your first job in public relations/communications/media and what did you take away from the experience? How did you discover your passion for working in the field?
I like to tell people that my very first “job” in PR and marketing was when I was building campaigns for myself in high school, running for office. I didn’t realize it would actually be a job in my future, but I’d hoped it would be because I loved coming up with influential campaigns, motivating people, and ultimately winning public favor. I understood positive brand building for myself and then I discovered it was a “real thing” in college. Thankfully, my first mentor, Christina Dort, who was the director of corporate communications for Cisco Systems when I was babysitting her kids in high school, brought me into the Silicon Valley tech fold my junior year of college – before I had my degree. At Portal Software she taught me that if you can make “enterprise software sexy” you can basically PR anything. SHE WAS RIGHT! I learned so much and saw all that was possible. She clearly saw my passion and talent and was the first to unleash it. Seventeen years later, I am still so thankful for her.
How do you prioritize and start your work day?
I wake up very early to have me time and I have learned that before I check email, I need to check myself and my mindset. I walk my dog in the morning and listen to what I call “fire up” music, for about 30 minutes. This way, no matter what, I have a smile on my face and I’m ready to go. I use the Swipes app to also ensure that before I start diving into emails, I complete important tasks on my Swipes list first because you never know what can happen once you start answering emails. You can sometimes go a whole day responding to people, sitting in meetings, and not getting actual work done. It’s an endless cycle. I get through my important Swipes, then I start tackling my day.
Have you had any challenges in your career? Any specific challenges as a woman in the industry? How did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge came when I was criticized early in my career for being an upbeat woman who just so happens to dress well and take care of herself. The criticism came mostly from women, and it’s a shame. Men wouldn’t always take me seriously early in my career, because I was told I was “too pretty to be smart.” So what did I do? I stepped it up especially in the boardroom and meetings. I brought my A-game because I wanted to be taken seriously. I’ve never stopped that and now, I’ve earned the respect of so many of my industry peers. They listen to what I have to say because I’m confident in who I am.
I make it a point to be kind and also make it a point to stay away from negativity. Women are powerful creatures and I hope that one day we can all see that and lift each other up because of it.
What is one of the greatest misconceptions about the field of public relations/ communications/ media?
Many that don’t work in our industry, think that what we do is easy, but when PR is done right it’s hard work and it’s very strategic. We spend a lot of time researching, and pulling all the pieces together. Great PR can save companies and save jobs as a result. There isn’t a magic wand you wave over a company to get the press to notice them. It’s a strategic story that can build public favor over time, especially when coupled with social media marketing and other digital marketing initiatives.
PR is the front wheel that should be driving the marketing tricycle!
What is your greatest achievement in your career?
Taking the leap of faith to start my agency and seeing where we are right now. We’re about to move into a beautiful high rise in Beverly Hills, on Wilshire Blvd. It was always a dream of mine and it’s finally coming true. Moving into the office means we’re moving up and we’re just getting started. We have big plans ahead!
What are your tips for setting yourself apart in the workplace?
Do your homework on the media, on your clients and across industries. Educate yourself and be in the know. You’ll earn respect and will come up with the best plans because of it. The moment you stop learning is the moment you stop bringing value to your work.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t underestimate yourself. You can do anything you set your mind to and as long as you continue to love your profession and work hard at it you will reach your goals. Appreciate your mentors and spend time perfecting your skills. You’ve got a long road ahead of you so don’t be discouraged that the journey isn’t happening overnight. It’s not supposed to. Don’t rush things. Anything worth having is worth waiting for.
How can a new graduate set themselves apart in the hiring process?
Read the news. Watch the news. Pay attention to business and not just pop culture. We are in the media business. If you can show thoughtfulness about our actual business and pay attention to media now, you will have so much more to talk about in an interview and be years ahead of students who apply for PR jobs because “they want to work with celebrities” or “big companies.” It’s the biggest turnoff when students don’t actually read the news. It’s an essential part of our job.
What’s next? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see NRPR on the list of the top 10 PR agencies in Los Angeles. I see us growing and expanding tremendously, with the same amazing crew we have on board now. We’re growing this company together and it feels amazing. I also see myself mentoring young students about goal setting and personal brand building.
There aren’t enough people trying to help motivate young people to get their careers on the right track before they become adults, which is why I’m very excited to be part of the Women in PR USA team.
I want to be among the first to take an active role in helping our youth learn good habits in life early, before they come into the workforce so that they are confident, well balanced and ready to reach their dreams, the way I did! We’re starting that at NRPR Group now, with my “Make it Happen” speaking tour. It’s our way of giving back.
Social Media Links:
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NRodPR
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/NicoleRPR
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicolerpr/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nicolerpr/