Test Drive My Job: Independent PR Pro Melissa Cassera
Owner : 3 years
Mopwater: Describe your path to PR. What made you want to get into the field?
MC: I grew up in the entertainment industry working as a model/actress, but always loved to write and am an avid storyteller. I graduated from Rowan University in 2002 with a BA in Communications and began my career in corporate PR. I didn’t enjoy working in a corporate environment so I switched into sales before ultimately deciding to go back into PR…this time on my own terms. I started my own firm when I was 26 years old working with small business owners, professional speakers, authors and industry experts.
Mopwater: What do you love most about doing PR?
MC: I love landing big placements for small business owners – there’s something exciting about getting in on the ground floor and watching a business grow with your efforts. I also love seeing direct ROI from placements and helping clients leverage placements into sales or into ongoing coverage (like regular columns or correspondent opportunities).
Mopwater: Describe your office and workplace. How many co-workers do you have? Where, how, and how often do you collaborate with them?
MC: I have a home office and do not have employees. Instead I collaborate with other industry experts in marketing, copywriting, advertising, social media, etc and outsource work to them when necessary. We collaborate by phone, email and Skype.
Mopwater:Describe a typical workday including your work hours. What do you do all day?
MC: I usually start work around 7:30am. Every day I start with a plan and just check off tasks as I go. The hours between 9-5pm are spent pitching clients (new pitches, follow ups, coordinating interviews). I also use Profnet and HARO as a leads source and respond to those queries throughout the day. The evening I reserve for writing, social networking and any housekeeping that needs to be done for my business.
Mopwater: What are your favorite and least favorite PR tasks? Do you love to pitch? Do you dread writing releases?
MC: My favorite task is pitching. I love crafting pitches tailored to each individual outlet and really envisioning how my client will fit in their program/publication. My least favorite is writing press releases, because I rarely use them. 95% of my media placements are from a well-crafted pitch.
Mopwater: What kind of clients does your company serve and what services do you provide?
MC: Most of my clients are industry experts, professional speakers and authors. I never work with two clients in the same industry at the same time, so I often have a diverse roster of fashion, beauty, healthcare, IT, finance, pets, etc. I provide full monthly retainer services including pitching TV, radio, print and online media to secure interviews, profiles, expert commentary, product placements, byline writing opportunities, etc. I prefer a 4-6 month commitment to craft a full publicity campaign – this helps build and sustain momentum and helps leverage the coverage into sales and/or additional placement opportunities.
Mopwater: Give an example of a “dream client” or two. What would you want to do for this client?
MC: I’d love to work with a local news correspondent or an up and coming nonfiction author with aspirations of becoming a ‘Rachael Ray’ type personality. I would create a consistent and compelling personal brand for this client, help them develop products to build upon their expertise, solicit coverage in national, local and regional news media, and help them leverage this coverage into ongoing opportunities and ultimately a lucrative book or television deal.
Mopwater: Describe a recent project where you produced results you were really proud of.
MC: One of my clients is an amazing fashion stylist and is now branded as a ‘look for less’ expert. Over a 6 month period, we’ve landed coverage in numerous national magazines (Glamour, Better Homes and Gardens, First, Latina, Family Circle) and plenty of television coverage. One TV appearance led to a paid opportunity from a competing network to have her as their regular fashion correspondent. We’ve had a few inquiries from producers at major networks as well – I see no limit to our possibilities.
Mopwater: What is your favorite thing about working where you work?
MC: I love being in charge and having creative freedom. I approach campaigns from the overall picture and set client expectations properly. I only take on a limited number of clients and we work very closely together to reach their publicity goals.
Mopwater: What do you wish was different about working there?
MC: I don’t desire to become a big agency and prefer to work one on one with clients. Sometimes this can be difficult because I’m then left to handle all of the campaign work, but also handle the sales phase. I don’t believe in making clients speak to someone else and not having contact with me directly before making a decision to work my company. I wish there were more hours in the day!
Mopwater: Do you think you’ll be in this position in 5 years? If not, where do you see yourself?
MC: I will always have at least one client on my roster so I stay fresh in the publicity world, but my real goal is to grow the workshop and product development side of my business. I currently speak to national audiences on topics of publicity and marketing. I would also love to coach junior publicists on how to get better results for clients. I’m also developing several products (ebooks, podcasts and videos) to teach my methods. My ultimate goal is to be a small business correspondent or produce my own TV show – even if it’s just on basic cable!
Publicity Specialist – Speaker – Author