I was lucky enough to have the wonderful Jessica Zapatero, Co-founder of Zapatero Bucuram Public Relations, LLC., give her insights on PR. We spoke about how to develop a PR strategy, how to incorporate digital marketing, and how to tailor your plan to your organizations particular target market. Although there were some technical issues during the interview (please excuse any awkard pauses on my part) there are still some very actionable and valuable items that I think every marketer and business should strive to implement in their public relations strategy. Please feel free to let me know your thoughts from the discussion.
Andrew Mounier: Today we have Jessica Zapatero with us. She is an experienced multilingual communication leader, skilled at implementing high-profile, image based sales and marketing programs with the luxury lifestyle industry through the creation of integrated communication strategies. Her niche expertise lies in building competitive advantages for clients in the luxury retail home, fashion and beauty sectors by leveraging and connecting with the affluent Hispanic consumers. She is also the President and Co-founder of Zapatero Bucuram Public Relations, LLC. OK. And I think I got everything here. Let’s just go ahead and jump into some of the questions. Could you tell me a little bit about your background and what led you into PR?
Jessica Zapatero: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me here today. Well, a little bit about my background: I have a degree in Fashion Design and I minored in Communications and Business Administration. I’m currently pursuing a degree in Fashion Marketing, so my masters, post-graduate. At the very early stages of my career, I was very fortunate to be part of the executive development program with a very high-end retailer in Palo Alto, California. That allowed me to go through different rotations of departments and figure out what the inefficiencies were and provide solutions for them. My favorite department was Public Relations. So it encompassed creating good will for the high-end retailer and the community, so building community relations strategies, building media and awareness for public relations for the designers that were coming in to do trend shows and special appearances. We rolled out a lot of event planning, which was really fun. I immediately knew that was the perfect outlet for the two passions that I have, which was PR and marketing. Fashion in general was the perfect way for expressing my passion.
Andrew Mounier: Could you tell me a little bit about what Zapatero Bucuram Public Relations, LLC does?
Jessica Zapatero: Yes, thank you. Good pronunciation. We’re a lifestyle and celebrity public relations agency. So basically we offer top notch media and visibility for our clients in various spaces, which mostly encompass fashion, lifestyle and local celebrity initiatives. We also provide Digital Marketing and Social Media services, because today with the Public Relations strategy, you have to embrace those other two schools. So that is what we do.
Andrew Mounier: Ok, great. Now, PR has so many definitions behind it. Public Relations, it has these multiple facets, but when you think about PR, what is the definition that you associate with it? I know that now we’re moving to digital marketing and things like that, but what do you think PR is?
Jessica Zapatero: You know, the standard definition is really maintaining a professional and public image by a company or an organization or a famous person. That’s the traditional definition for PR, but today I think it means so much more. I think with the influence of social good and corporate responsibility, Public Relations is really involved into creating a platform for companies to express their upper-end voice, their messaging and their core values. So Public Relations is not just about press release anymore, being in the news for something positive or negative. It’s a lot more.
Andrew Mounier: Definitely. You briefly touched upon Digital Marketing. How is that changing PR?
Jessica Zapatero: Yes. Well, it’s changed PR so much. It’s really been the catalyst for PR to point out. Digital has really fueled Content Marketing, which is the new way that publicists use to really communicate with not only the media, but with their audience. Before, the traditional Public Relations strategy was to create a press release that was syndicated online and then you would make the phone calls to follow up with your pitch. But today, you can use blogs, social media, email, just so many other methods to reach your audience, not just media. As publicists today, our landscape is so different and I’ve gone through the process of the original, traditional method as versus today, it’s so much easier to expand our reach. You wouldn’t believe what kind of media relationships we’re able to develop just from a Twitter conversation. So those are things we haven’t even heard of before. So digital has changed absolutely everything.
Andrew Mounier: Yes, definitely. And where would you recommend as the first place to start for an organization when they are looking at creating their PR strategy?
Jessica Zapatero: Yes, that’s definitely a good question also. I feel that internally. I feel that every organization needs to really first understand and analyze who they are internally and their own internal values or corporate values. So starting in at your messaging, what are you saying to your own employees and team, what kind of customer service and how do you respect your own team, I think that’s a critical piece. How does everybody else understand your mission, your company mission, your company values? And if that’s not understood or not disseminated properly, then you can’t publicly have a refined message. Therefore, it’s important to start internally.
Andrew Mounier: Do you approach strategy building sessions differently for a start-up as opposed to a Fortune 500 company?
Jessica Zapatero: Yes. It’s very interesting, but I do think that all organizations, regardless of their size, have one PR need in common: they need to be seen, they need to be heard and they need to be remembered. And I think how Public Relations strategies and tactics are developed really depends on the type of industry, whether it’s an emerging brand or a Fortune 500, but when you dissect the two, the complexity of an emerging brand usually involves many early-stage processes like a logo, branding identity, website, messaging, all of that a Fortune 500 company may already have established. On the flip side, the Fortune 500 company may be so large and used to doing things the traditional way, that they really haven’t looked at refreshing their image or refreshing their messaging to be relevant today. Fortune 500 companies still have internal departments and sometimes main service different industry needs, different teams, different layers of management, different processes. So dealing with the smaller, more nimble organizations such as an emerging brand, an emerging whatever it is of the field that it is, is a little bit more nimble I guess, quicker to move through because you don’t have so many layers of management, whereas a Fortune 500 is a lot more planning with time and there’s just a longer adoption process of something new and you need to disseminate that internally again.
Andrew Mounier: There are definitely a lot more hoops that you have to jump through with the Fortune 500. Ok. Being an entrepreneur and founder of your own firm, what are some tips that you have for budding PR business owners?
Jessica Zapatero: One of the most important tips is to never forget the importance of networking and your relationship building. I think as a publicist or as a PR agency owner, you will get fogged down with wearing many hats, but this is probably one of the most critical aspects of the business, is to really be able to nurture your relationships on a consistent basis. That way, when you get a public relations opportunity or a reputation management issue, you’re able to already have connection at the local news station, at the newspaper or on the online blog that understands you and the types of customers that you pitch, and what value you can bring or how you can spin a story, whether it’s positive or a negative issue.
Andrew Mounier: Yes, great insight. If you can give one piece of advice to the wider audience, the CMO Brain Community, what would that be?
Jessica Zapatero: Well, I think it’s very important to connect with your local peers and again, networking and build future business relationships. There’s many opportunities for someone to attend to just a class or a marketing seminar, looking at your industry professional associations like the American Marketing Association or the Interactive Marketing Association, the Public Relations Society of America, I think, just to kind of step in and learn about how someone else’s case study may look like or what tactics are working for other people will help you learn about new ways of approaching your own clients and also there are so many tools that are available to us today to do our job more effectively and save time. I think you can often leverage that information. A lot of times it could be free, there’s a lot of online content and probably the most valuable is CMO Brains. You definitely wanna check it out on a daily basis and subscribe to that blog.
Andrew Mounier: Fantastic! Thank you so much, Jessica. I really appreciate your time today.
Jessica Zapatero: Yes, no problem!
Andrew Mounier: Ok, thank you.
Jessica Zapatero: Thank you!
Andrew Mounier: Bye!