“How did you get your start?,” is a common inquiry from people interested in the PR field. With years of experience working in agency settings and then starting out on her own, Veracity Founder and President Amy Rosenberg has a volume of stories to tell about her career journey. In a recent interview with a university student, Amy freely shares anecdotes from what first piqued her interest to how she came to launch her own PR firm, offering valuable insights for budding entrepreneurs and those seeking to learn more about beginning a PR career.
What got you interested in public relations?
Even though I was a psychology major at the University of Oregon, one of my good friends Michele was a PR major and I watched her having so much fun with the work, organizing events for students, writing articles about community happenings and more. All of the PR groups she was involved in (probably the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) as well as the school’s mini PR firm that helped local Eugene, OR companies with pro-bono marketing) had her really plugged into the community and enjoying her activities. While I did apply to, and got into, graduate school for counseling psychology, I thought I’d spend the summer at a PR internship.
That internship at a small PR firm gave me so much on-the-ground experience, I was hooked. One of our areas of focus was entertainment, therefore we PR’ed many events that came to town, such as the circus, Disney on Ice, and even the rodeo. I got to help out on-site with the media. There were many late nights and early mornings (TV morning shows), but we had a ton of fun. It was during that internship I was offered a full-time position, and I did not hesitate.
Why and how did you start Veracity?
I actually took a break from PR to sell and market a high-end condominium development. I got my real estate license and sold other properties during that time. At the same time, I had my son. With the condos all sold, I attempted to sell real estate on my own, with a baby. I even took him to a house inspection once!
However, the market started to crash and some deals didn’t go through. I didn’t like having spent my entire weekend working with a prospective buyer with nothing to show for it. Also, I missed the camaraderie and support of the condominium team, which I no longer had since the properties were sold. So, I gave up my license and tried my hand at being a stay-at-home mom. Ha! With no outside things to focus on, laundry became my priority (second to my son of course) and I began to lose my mind!
My husband was very involved with the local search engine marketing group, SEMpdx, and thought possibly I could do some pro-bono work for their largest event, Engage (formerly known as SearchFest). That year, I did their PR successfully enough I guess that they wanted to hire me the following year (well, I did become pregnant with baby #2 and said that I couldn’t work for free anymore, it’s important to know your worth and sometimes simply attempting to walk away is more powerful than negotiating). So, my pro-bono client became my first paying client!
The SEMpdx community is amazingly supportive and offered many referrals that I began to call them “my clients.” I ended up getting so many clients that I threatened to fire half of them, so my husband quit his job at a search firm to help me with the business and even more so with the kids. This extremely privileged situation pushed me from being an independent freelancer into a company founder.
What is your book about and why did you write it?
I have always had a love for writing and for as long as I can remember it’s been a goal of mine to write a book. Of course my mind instinctively goes to fiction when thinking about writing, because that is what I read and I find most marketing books to be a bore. But, over and over I heard that you should write about what you know. And I most definitely know PR.
A Modern Guide to Public Relations is a beginning primer to the field and includes tips on what I think are the best ways to go about things. It also serves as more of a training manual for Veracity, since I have some particular ways of doing things. However, I realized there is so much more to say on the topic so I am hoping it is just the first in a marketing series, with the next book meant for small business owners and start-ups.