Houston’s PR Gem: Test Drive My Job Ashley Small

By Amanda Miller Littlejohn | @amandamogul

I find the most fabulous people on Twitter. I can’t quite remember how or when I began following Ms. Ashley Small, but I’m so glad I did. She is a fierce indie PR firm owner out of Houston and she’s always tweeting about some fabulous project or another. Earlier this year, she was named one of the Faces of Houston by Fast Company Magazine!

I’ve been wanting to profile her for some time now, and finally got my chance. I hope you follow her and find her as inspiring as I do! Enjoy :)

Ashley Small (@AshleyRSmall)

Houston, Texas

Owner, Medley, Inc.

Mopwater: Describe your path to PR. AS: I’ve always worn many hats and had a sincere passion for media. I was introduced to PR by chance…I needed to take an additional class to meet the requirements in college at Texas Southern University, so I begged my (now mentor) then Chair of the Journalism Department to allow me to take the advanced PR class…it was love at first assignment;).

I’m from Tulsa, Oklahoma and I worked on the school newspaper in high school-so initially went to college to pursue a career in journalism. Ultimately, I majored in journalism, minored in PR. I had several internships while in college and after graduating, including internships at JONES Magazine, Schipul, The Web Marketing Company, The Axis Agency and more. My first job after college was in advertising at the Houston Chronicle.

Mopwater: Describe a pivotal moment in your career. AS: In PR, my pivotal moment was when I took the advanced PR class. I was able to work on actual campaigns, and work on projects that allowed me to utilize my writing, my personality, aggression and energy. Just writing this, reminds me of the thrill of PR. It’s a demanding, and hugely gratifying field for a person like me.

For social media, my pivotal moment was when I interned at Schipul, the Web Marketing Company. I was the SEO intern in 2007, and learned more about the web in 3 months than I had in my entire life. I became fascinated with the opportunities presented via web marketing.

Mopwater: Describe your typical day, workplace and office settings. AS: I have an office, but prefer to work from home. I’m one of those people who roll over and reach for coffee, and then her laptop. Really, I check my iPhone through the night and when I wake up in the morning.

I have a task list for each day and just do my very best to knock it out. My days are mostly spent on my computer, for up to 12-14 hours a day, At times, I attend media interviews with clients, but otherwise I pretty much stay glued to my laptop and phone.

Mopwater: What are your favorite PR tasks? AS: Building/creating lists. In PR this, is our most valuable asset- our contacts. So it’s a task that must be done. Sponsors, media, potential clients, etc.. So many lists in this job…

I love to pitch, and I am thrilled when the writer/reporter loves the pitch. I don’t dread releases, but prefer to write a quick, focused, research-driven pitch. I’m learning that in most cases, this approach is more convenient for both me and the writer/reporter. Getting straight to the point….boldly making the ask.

We don’t do a great deal of blogging for our brands, but we do love maintaining social media sites for them. Every audience is different, and I’m always curious to see how different audiences respond to content.

Mopwater: Who are some of your clients and projects? AS: Our clients include The Museum of Cultural Arts Houston (MOCAH), Natural Resources Salon, Melodrama Boutique, Texas Southern University and more. Our projects vary, but usually include public relations, new media, brand development or special events.

Typically, I work towards identifying media opportunities and securing placements. I also focus on keeping our clients visible online. Whether that’s through social media maintenance, content development or blogger outreach- my goal is to create a strong presence for clients.

Here’s a sample project:

Client: The Museum of Cultural Arts Houston (MOCAH)
MOCAH is Houston’s leading developer of community based public art and cultural programming. As a non-profit art organization they are dedicated to the mission of using art and creativity as tools for social awareness and community development.

Outcome

In less than one year:

• National features on ABC, in Art Knowledge News and Art Daily
• Secured over 20 media placements valued at $50,000
• Established brand familiarity and new partnerships for MOCAH

Mopwater: What advice would you give someone breaking into the field? AS: Know your strengths and maximize on them. If you’re a great researcher, learn to pitch detailed, newsworthy stories and create superb analytics. If you’re (like me) and enjoy meeting people and connecting, make it a point to build genuine relationships.

Mopwater: What would you change about your journey so far?  AS: I can boldly and confidently say nothing. I’m grateful for everything I’ve experienced….I’m truly grateful for having a strong sense of faith and knowing that everything happens exactly as it should. No regrets….not one.

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