I'm so thrilled about this month's Luxe Profile - I met Denise of Mariani Marketing several years ago at a local wine event. At the time I was covering the event as a food writer and web producer for The Palm Beach Post. As you can imagine at these types of events you meet tons of public relations professionals, you get handed cards left and right, and pitched for stories. It's just the nature of the business and I totally understand, but in the sea of pitches and business cards Denise stood out to me.
I was at the event with my good friend Liz Balmaseda (food editor extraordinaire at The Post) she spoke so highly of Denise, and at that moment I made a mental note that one day I would collaborate with her. I know that sounds insane trust me - Luxe Lara wasn't a thing or even a blip in my radar. Looking back now there were plenty of moments like this - I suppose the foundation for a business was being laid all those years ago!
Fast forward to about a year ago a local restaurant client of mine reached out asking for a public relations firm referral and that mental note I made years prior came in handy. Denise got great coverage for my client and I got to see first hand how passionate she is about her work and her clients.
Most recently, I had the great opportunity to design Denise's website. She knows so many people in our local area the fact that she reached out to me meant a lot. I designed a clean, modern website that showcases all the amazing events she is a part of.
Q & A:
1) What kind of services does Mariani Marketing provide, what types of clients do you work with?
Mariani Marketing & Events is a Public Relations and Event Planning company. We provide traditional public relations services, pitching wonderful stories about our clients to print, on-air, and online media to earn unpaid coverage of their businesses, achievements and events. We work mostly with medium sized local businesses and local affiliates of not for profits. I have a culinary background so we have a significant number of food related clients.
2) How did you get started in Public Relations & Event Planning?
When I left my previous job in the events department of large culinary business, I really wanted to go to work with a large, local, PR firm that a friend owns. However it was 2012 and the economy was still pretty bad, so there just wasn't a position open in ANY local PR firms. Fortunately some of my previous clients started to ask me to work for them on a freelance basis. So I figured out how to charge for my services and voila, Mariani Marketing & Events was born!
3) What are some of the local events or non-profits that you work with that you are most proud of?
We've handled Public Relations for Habitat for Humanity of Palm Beach County for the past three years. Over the years we've been able to get them more and more media coverage and help them build strategic partnerships that have made a huge difference in educating the public about their mission. The one message we most want to publicize about their programs is that the families aren't handed a home; they're given a mortgage on a home. This is one of the biggest misconceptions out there.
We make a huge contribution to El Sol Fest every year for the El Sol Center in Jupiter. This is an organization that works with a skeleton staff and an army of volunteers to offer 20 different programs serving the Town of Jupiter, especially the migrant worker community. El Sol Fest is their one community fundraiser annually. We work with the El Sol staff and an event committee to organize the artists, vendors, music, food, children's area and performances to make the event an integrated community event and one of the biggest festivals in Jupiter every year. We weren't hired to handle the PR for the event, but I just can't help myself! So we've been able to get wonderful coverage of this event in the media as well!
4) What is your favorite part of what you do?
I get a HUGE smile on my face when I open a newspaper or turn on the television and see coverage of our clients' accomplishments. This is why I get up in the morning and absolutely my FAVORITE part of my job!
5) Can you offer some advice to someone that is trying to spread the word about their event or business?
When companies and not for profits are trying to get the word out on something interesting they are doing, it's important to pitch it to the correct journalists. For example, if you want to get coverage in the Palm Beach Post, you need to READ the Palm Beach Post and research what types of articles each writer is writing. If you have a business in the medical field, you'll want to write to the editor and writers who cover health and medical issues. If you are pitching a not for profit event, you'll want to engage the social event editors. You'll have a much better response if you get the word out to the right person. If you pitch it to the wrong person, your story won't even be read. These journalists get too many story pitches every day to read those that aren't in their area.
It's also imperative that you provide accompanying pictures and/or videos. More and more publications are using provided photos. Their photography budgets have been slashed to the bone. You have a much better chance of getting placement of your article when you provide a publication with high quality photography. You should ALWAYS give photo and video credit to the person who shot them. Their time and creativity is what they are selling and they always deserve to get credit for their work.
6) Can you offer some advice for creative entrepreneurs that are just starting their business?
Start with a business plan. I didn't do this and it took me much longer to make my business profitable than it should have. If you don't like dealing with the numbers, hire an accountant to keep you on track. This is actually one of my largest expenses every month, but it's worth every penny. I guess it makes sense that we creative types aren't that great with the numbers.
7) What should a person look for when hiring a public relations professional/agency?
First of all, don't hire PR assistance based on a business listing or Google search. Ask people who you do business with for a referral. 100% of my business has come from personal referrals. I value that referral and work hard to earn it again once the client hires me. When hiring a public relations professional, make sure you're comfortable that the person or agency truly understands your business. Believe it or not, it's best to find one who already has clients in your industry. Some people are hesitant to do this. They think this dilutes the attention that will be paid to their account. But hiring an agency who has other clients in your industry means that they already have the contacts to promote your business and have an intimate understanding of what promotions work. Always ask for references and check them.
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