While October is predominantly known for celebrating Halloween and the promotion of wearing pink in honor of breast cancer, there are some other well-deserved recognitions that take place throughout the month. One of them is National Women’s Small Business month.
In the world of communications and public relations, it is very common for practitioners to venture out on their own as a consultant, with many starting their own firm/agency. In honor of National Women’s Small Business month, we are spotlighting Carolyn Reis in this month’s member profile. Carolyn’s firm, Reis Corporate Public Relations, has been going for 17 years strong. Continue reading to learn more about her experience and her words of advice for those who have aspirations to open their own firm one day.
- Name and title: Carolyn Reis, APR
- Current position: Owner, Reis Corporate Public Relations
- Hometown: Miami, Florida
- Alma mater/degree: University of Florida, Bachelor of Science in Journalism and Communications
- Very first job: Cultural affairs producer/host at the local NPR affiliate WMFE-FM.
How long have you been a member of PRSA and what made you join? What aspect(s) do you enjoy most?
I’ve been a member for 30 years; long before many of the chapter’s young professionals were even born! I joined in 1991, and earned my accreditation in 1994.
Professional development and the fellowship of a PR community were the reasons I joined and why I’m still a member three decades later. I left the nest of a traditional PR agency and started my small business as an independent practitioner in 2004. The relationships and learnings I gained through my involvement in PRSA gave me the confidence to make the leap, and the knowledge and support to be successful.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of joining PRSA?
Borrowing from Nike’s legendary trademark: Just do it! And, don’t just join; become involved.
My growth as a professional, and the friendships and business opportunities that have enriched my career, all occurred through my involvement on various committees, mentoring new members and supporting APR candidates, and serving on the board of directors and as an assembly delegate.
PRSA defines Public Relations as a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics. How does your current position fit into or expand upon that definition?
That definition was the guidepost for establishing my consulting practice and for the counsel I have provided to clients since day one. It’s about knowing who your publics are (and are not), understanding their point of view, and finding common ground upon which to build mutually beneficial two-way communication.
What would you say is your biggest career milestone, so far?
Starting a solo consulting practice that is still going strong 17 years later.
What advice would you give someone just starting out in field of PR/Communications? Or, in their career in general?
Work hard, be curious, grow your skill set, and build a network with others in your profession.
If you weren’t in PR what would you be doing instead?
Working as a book editor for a large publishing house, preferably for biographies of people who’ve led interesting lives.
How do you spend your free time?
Dreaming of more free time! It’s one of my very few complaints about being a full-time small business owner. How do I like to spend my free time? Dining out with friends during the week and exploring new restaurants. The Pinery on Lake Ivanhoe is my newest fave. On the weekends, I enjoy training with a group of running friends and doing DIY home projects. And, in the fall, it’s trips to Gainesville for Gator football games.
What’s something new you want to learn or master?
How to play the piano.
As a female small business owner, what has been your biggest hurdle and how have you overcome it?
My biggest challenge is maintaining a healthy work-life balance. I love what I do and give it 100%. But, I’m also a mother and a daughter with an aging parent. I’ve learned to establish expectations and boundaries with my clients. It works most of the time.
What advice would you give to anyone in the PR/communication industry who wants to open their own business/firm someday?
Remember what you already know. All successful goals start with research and planning. Seek out advice and guidance from other small business PR professionals. We are a very collegial group who enjoy the opportunity to support and grow our community. Also, understand the financial aspects of owning a firm and create a business plan and budget. There are seemingly millions of large and small decisions to make, and they become that much harder if you try to “build the plane while you’re flying it.” (I learned that the hard way.)