PR Interview with Jayme Soulati
For those professionals still wondering if blogging and being active in social media is worth the effort, I’d point to this interview as my personal proof point. This Q&A project and my participation in social media, is the reason I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some really smart and talented professionals like Jayme Soulati.
President of Soulati Media, Jayme Soulati is an 18-year veteran of Chicago’s PR firms and a three-time entrepreneur – Soulati Media Relations, Marketing Media & More, Soulati Media. She is the past President, Publicity Club of Chicago and very smart.
Hope you enjoy getting to know Jayme who was kind enough to provide some valuable and always unique insight for episode 006.
Jayme, you’re currently the president of your own consultancy, did you have to know someone to get that job? Seriously, how do you compare running your own biz to working in the PR trenches for someone else?
As I am an agency brat from Chicago, which means I got my start in Chicago’s competitive agencies and bounced around to the next highest-paying job (I launched my career at Manning, Selvage & Lee making $13,500 per year), I am a strong advocate to stay “in” as long as humanly possible.
What that means is – everyone starting out in this profession has to learn from others. Find a mentor who is a solid business strategist to glom onto and when that fizzles find someone else.
When you finally realize you’re getting into more trouble inside, take yourself out the door (as I did) and sow some oats and see how that feels. There’s a bonus most PR people probably don’t realize, and it’s this – every single company needs someone with our expertise to go to market, get talked about and to grow. Knowing that principle and letting it guide you is like a peace of mind; you can grow your own business keeping that close to the vest.
Did I answer that question? Hmm, I don’t think so!
Running my own business is like nothing you can plan for. Folks always thought I sat in my pjs at work; nonsense. You dress the way you want to feel; pjs and sweat pants make you lazy.
There are no breaks or holidays without connectivity; the work-life balance always suffers. However, the rewards are like nothing you can imagine.
If you could do anything outside of PR / Communications, what would you choose and why?
I’d be a gemologist, hands down. It’s been a hobby of mine…traveling to gem markets of the world to add another bauble to my collection. Some people collect stamps or guns, I collect colored gems…doesn’t that make sense? Heh. It’s all about color for me; color makes me happy.
How did you get into public relations?
When I was a junior at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, I had no major, so I started reading the curriculum directory and happened upon a public relations course in the J School. Turns out, I had been taking courses from anthropology to zoology trying to land on something that fit and got an amazing introduction to a variety of vertical markets which became a great segue into public relations. Wish I had consulted advisors during college to help direct me, but the unconventional route I took turned into the five-year plan I self-financed.
Your blog is crazy good and popular. What are the top 5 tips you’d give to bloggers just starting out.
- Find your voice with continuous writing and stick your neck out!
- Develop a thick skin and don’t let sensitivities prevail.
- Never focus on yourself; nurture and welcome people who visit and they will become your community.
- Guest post and comment on other blogs a lot.
- Keep the arrogance to a minimum; it’s terribly boring.
How much time do you spend on your blog during a normal week?
Tough question; blogging is an every-day occurrence so I’d say average is 2-3 hours a day writing a post, preparing it for publication, commenting on comments, marketing the post, and monitoring it. So…that’s about 10-15 hours weekly (depending on how frequently you post). (This is kind of a hard question because I never stop looking for content ideas; everything I read, everyone I speak with provides fodder for content.)
What does PR/Comms industry look like in 5 years?
Anyone not engaged in social media marketing in this profession CANNOT walk the talk. It is a PR professional’s duty and accountability to self and profession to innovate in tandem or ahead of the curve. Sadly, many remain behind and give the profession a bad name.
While we can’t wipe out an entire profession of PR folks, we can wipe out the title. Many of us have already removed PR from our titles; as for me, I’m now a B-to-B social media marketer and content marketer with core PR. What we’re already seeing is a migration to a blend where marketing drives the collective disciplines and PR aligns under, in, or nearby.
You were very vocal during the recent attempt by PRSA to redefine public relations, looking back, what was your thought about the process, result and industry-wide discussion?
I’d need to revisit the conversation from that time frame to be more accurate in my deduction for you, Paul; however, the entire situation left a sour taste in many mouths, and we said so on our blogs. You’ll note one of the tips I provided to newbie bloggers is to stick your neck out? I did and I do; it’s what keeps me on my toes – to speak an opinion backed by community and proof points.
We had a lot of support from big bloggers on this issue, and we took PRSA to task. They had to put a grassroots campaign together to hit our blogs and comment to our wrath; eventually, the influencers won out – we made an impact and the issue did not end with a final vote. PRSA put the issue back on the table to revise the definition.
Anyone fortunate enough to have joined us during that timeframe (Frank Strong, Shonali Burke, and Gini Dietrich to name a few) should be proud of the fact that we had such a strong collective of unified voices, and we forced the hand of a national organization by standing up to what we felt was truly wrong for our profession.
What social media platform do you use (most) professionally? And is it different from what you use for personal?
Small businesses like mine run the risk of over-extending in social channels. I have two Facebook and Google+ accounts and the company brand suffers. At the end of the day, I’m the brand, so it’s fine; basically, I don’t do much personal stuff on any social media channel (e.g. the family pet or reunion photos, but I’ll post some good stuff like that on occasion).
What advice would you give young professionals just starting out in this industry?
What is your Immediate reaction to the following?:
Twitter: Fav Channel
Klout: Necessary evil
Corporate blogs: Lacking attention
LinkedIn: Finally modernizing
Social media: Here to stay
Public relations: Critical!
- Because there is no Wicked Cold Warning...RT @Steveology Trying to figure out how MSN weather says the low is 40° next to the Freeze Warning 20 hours ago
- @djenningspr I'd be more surprised if you found someone that WASN'T afraid of killer whales and rats. Strange times indeed. 20 hours ago
- Bookmarking...Ten Blog Posts You Should Have Read In 2013 blog.lewispr.com/2013/12/ten-bl… 1 day ago
- Story beat messaging. Don't believe me? Read the story about the day Lou Hoffman went rogue on PR messaging - ishmaelscorner.com/2013/12/03/the… 1 day ago
- haha..RT @LisaNewkirk: @PaulRobertsPAR Hands clapping for this in your profile: Turn offs include self-proclaimed gurus, mavens & rock stars 2 days ago
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