You'll find Michelle Garrett at the intersection of PR, content marketing and social media.
As a public relations consultant, content creator, blogger, speaker and award-winning writer, she has more than 20 years of experience crafting content, strategy and programs for companies ranging from small businesses, startups, nonprofits and large corporations.
Michelle was recently named one of the Top 13 Content Marketing Influencers to Follow in 2018 and a Top 50 Content Marketing World Influencer. Her blog was named a Top 25 Must-Read Public Relations Blog, and she was named a Top 100 PR Influencer by Onalytica. She's a member of the advisory board of the National Organization of Women in PR USA.
While she's a regular monthly contributor to Muck Rack and Ragan's PR Daily, her articles and advice have also appeared in Entrepreneur, Forbes, Meltwater, FairyGodBoss, ThomasNet, Spin Sucks, Prowly, CIO, Freelancers Union and more.
Garrett graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and political science from The Ohio State University.
Why did you decide to start a career in public relations?
I always loved to write and wanted to pursue a career in journalism. The PR bug bit me when I realized it would allow me more flexibility — I could write AND work with companies to help them tell their stories. There are SO many ways to go with a career in public relations.
What do you enjoy the most about PR?
I like PR because no two days are the same. One day, you might be crafting a PR strategy for a client, the next you might be working on social media, then you might be writing a piece of content. Today, for example, I worked on some crisis communication messaging for one client, then switched gears to put together a social media calendar for another. In between, I did some writing for a client’s blog. It’s ever-changing.
I also love that we see other disciplines that have fallen under public relations for many years — social media, content marketing, influencer marketing — spinning out on their own. The great part about this is that PR pros excel in ALL these areas, making us even more versatile.
The foundation of all it? Strong writing skills.
What moment do you consider the highlight of your career?
One moment I’ll never forget was the first time I had a piece appear in Entrepreneur. It was something I had always dreamed about. I respect that publication, and as an entrepreneur myself, I loved that they found my advice valuable to their audience.
How do you keep a personal life and work balance?
It’s not always easy. I think working for myself helps. As a mom and a solopreneur, though, juggling is often necessary. I love my work, so I do have to remind myself to turn off the electronics at times and focus on my family. For example, the kids don’t like it when we go on vacation and I’m still trying to respond to email! So, I try to make sure to have times when I’m solely focused on them.
What message do you have for girls that want to pursue a degree in public relations?
I’d say go for it! PR is a job that can be very enjoyable and pays well. I don’t see the need for skilled public relations professionals diminishing. In fact, it’s growing because more businesses see the need to build, maintain and protect their reputations in these days when a simple tweet can cause a crisis for them.
I’m hopeful that we’ll see more women at the top of PR firms and in the top PR post at companies. While there are a lot of women in the field, there aren’t as many in the top positions as there should be.
What do you think have been your biggest challenge as a woman in the PR industry and how did you overcome it?
I’ve worked in the tech and manufacturing industries a lot over the years, and those are male-dominated fields. I think you have to show you know your stuff in those situations. Don’t be afraid to speak up. The more you do, the more confident you’ll feel.
What is your advice for PR professionals who would like to start their own consulting firm?
Get some experience first, especially working at an agency. When I told my mentor I wanted to go out on my own, he advised me to be sure to spend some time working for an agency so I’d learn how to work with multiple clients and meet lots of well-connected professionals.
For a year, I worked at an agency in Silicon Valley that handled big tech clients and startups. I learned so much and made great contacts. The time I spent there, though not always easy, is still paying off years later. I continue to get referrals from the people I worked with.
Written by Gloris Trujillo, Co-VP of Diversity and Inclusion.