"Hope Katz GibbsMeet Hope Katz Gibbs, President and Publisher of Inkandescent Public Relations / Be Inkandescent Magazine

Tell us about your business

Inkandescent Public Relations is a full-service PR, marketing, publishing, and design firm that helps entrepreneurs develop and execute their communications strategies so they get the visibility they need to keep their companies growing.

Branding: To be successful, an organization must look its best. So we begin the PR process by creating eye-catching websites, logos, and marketing materials. Our photographer takes beautiful professional portraits of your team. Our video director showcases the good work you are doing on film, and we also post it on our YouTube channel, www.inkandescenttv.com.

PR and Marketing Campaigns: To get the word out about your organization to clients and reporters, our team of journalists creates attention-getting press releases and helps you write monthly e-newsletters to showcase your business insights. You’ll also become a columnist in our magazine—Be Inkandescent: The ezine for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs—which circulates monthly to more than 14,000 subscribers and 6,000-plus social media contacts.

In the News: Our clients have recently been quoted in Inc. magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Washington Post, The Washington Business Journal, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Magazine, Washingtonian, CNN Money, The CBS Early Show, NBC News, News Channel 8, News Channel 9, Federal News Radio, and more.

Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?

As the child of two entrepreneurs, I grew up watching my parents run their own small businesses. So it was only natural for me to become a business reporter after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1986. After working for several newspapers and magazines, including The Miami Herald and New Miami Business Magazine, I started my own freelance writing business. Since 1993 have written for The Washington Post, USA Today, and dozens of national magazines including Costco’s, where I write book reviews.

My first job in the PR business was as the director of communications for the City of Fairfax Schools. We created an award-winning newsletter for them, and they continue to be one of my clients. When I was doing PR for a futurist think tank in Washington, DC, I got them onto the CBS Early Show three times, and mentions in nearly every national business magazine that they dreamed of being quoted in. After that, I figured that I could do for lots of small businesses what I had accomplished for these two organizations. In 2008, Inkandescent Public Relations was born.

What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?

There have been so many entrepreneurs who have shaped how I approach my firm—from the business leaders that I have written about, to those who have shown the right (and sometimes wrong) way to do things. In fact, from these observations I launched a website for the book I’m working on, “Truly Amazing Women Who Are Changing the World,” www.trulyamazingwomen.com. So far, I have profiled about 150 women, and plan on keeping that ball rolling for years to come. My hope is that their success stories will also inspire other women—and men, too.

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?

Launching Be Inkandescent Magazine in January 2010. While I love helping my clients develop, or redevelop, their websites, improve their branding, and get them in the news, my passion is journalism. So with the help of my design director and web developer, I started an online magazine for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs, www.beinkandescent.com.

Each month, our 20 columnists—all of whom pay to be part of the publication—write articles from the point of view of their industry and expertise on the theme of the month. In June, for instance, we featured humorist Dave Barry and his brother Sam for “The Funny Issue.” Each article centered on an aspect of humor in the workplace. In July, our theme will be “Think Big,” and our Entrepreneurs of the Month are the head coach and GM of the professional women’s basketball team, The Washington Mystics.

In the last year, we have gotten 2 million hits on the magazine, and our subscriber database has more than 16,000 email addresses. We’re pretty excited about that.

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?

In the top of our magazine website, www.beinkandescent.com, there is a box that shows a new quote every time you refresh the page. These are words of wisdom from famous entrepreneurs, philosophers, and other smart souls, and I love this section of the magazine because when I’m feeling down or confused, I’ll watch the slideshow of ideas as they rotate on my computer screen, and after reading just a few, I will start to feel better. Here are three of my favorites.

Treat the attainment of happiness in the same way an entrepreneur would approach building a business—with a vision, plan, goals, and a systematic approach.” – Ted Leonsis, former AOL exec, owner of the Washington Capitals, and author of “The Business of Happiness”

The gem cannot be polished without friction; nor man perfected without trials.” – Chinese proverb

“The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. The greatest failure is to not try.” – Debbi Fields, Mrs. Fields Cookies

What has been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business?

Showing up! I admit there are days when I feel like I actually live INSIDE my computer, because we manage and maintain all of our client’s websites and work with reporters daily to get them in the news. In addition, creating a monthly magazine and writing a book also take tons of time.

But I have found that the best use of my time is often to attend networking events, participate as a panelist at conferences, and buy tables at conferences because it enables me to meet entrepreneurs, learn about what they are looking for from PR and marketing, and not only sell our services but find great companies to write about for the magazine.

In fact, this revelation got me thinking that the best way to grow Inkandescent PR is to create a networking site that lists events in cities up and down the East Coast, and also profiles entrepreneurs and event hosts, and offers subscribers the opportunity to post office and apartment rentals and jobs. On July 1, be on lookout for our new service, Inkandescent Networking!

What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?

I hold onto three leadership principles:

• Be flexible—I may not always have the solution, but as long as I am are working to solve a problem, I am on the right track.

• Be open—to new ideas and change.

• Never, never, never give up. Trite? Perhaps. But Winston Churchill knew a thing or two about leadership, and I am happy to embrace his lesson.

One lesson I am still struggling to learn is “hire slow, fire fast.” As a journalist, I have worked long and hard to develop strong relationships. As a business owner, I tend to hire those I trust. But it is rarely a good idea to hire friends. As The Inkandescent Group grows, I am finding that it is mission-critical to advertise jobs, interview potential workers, and have a contract outlining job duties and expectations.

What do you do for fun/relaxation?

I do yoga for at least 20 minutes every day, and get a reflexology foot massage once a month. Most evenings I watch a movie or old TV show on Netflix with my two kids and my husband. At the moment, we are addicted to “24.” Jack Bauer is my new favorite superhero.

What is the Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?

In July, my company will launch Inkandescent Networking, a website that will feature the events and businesses in 8 east coast cities: Annapolis, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, New York City, Miami, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. For free, business owners and professionals can be listed in our Networking Directory, which will be sorted alphabetically, by city, and by industry.

In 2008, I began writing “Truly Amazing Women Who Are Changing the World,” and launched a website where I have been posting profiles of the incredible women I meet, www.trulyamazingwomen.com.

My goal is to profile 100 women in each of the eight cities where I’m launching Inkandescent Networking, and create a book for each location. We’ll celebrate with a giant event where all the women can meet each other, their beautiful portraits can be exhibited, and they can inspire others to be Truly Amazing Women—and Truly Amazing Men, too!

What’s the best way for our readers to connect with you?

I can be reached at hope@inkandescentpr.com / 703 346–6975

Do check out 2 of our websites:

www.inkandescentpr.com and www.beinkandescent.com

You’ll also find us in the social media sphere: