Meet the WE Magazine for Women in Business Nicole Rodrigues, CEO/Founder – NRPR Group
Tell us about your business (what product or service you provide and who your target audience is)
I run a strategic positioning agency in Beverly Hills. What we do is a little bit outside of what you would find at a traditional PR agency. Today, there’s a lot of overlap between the job functions of PR, marketing, social media and advertising. You have to be a jack of all trades and that is what NRPR Group is. We are strategic communicators who understand that core messaging and brand identity need to be at the forefront of all communications and branding. What we do best is media outreach and relationship building, but we utilize digital and social media marketing to enhance that, and handle event planning on top of all of that. At the end of the day, we help our clients figure out the best ways to utilize social media and digital marketing tools to engage with their audience and also push out great PR wins we help them achieve.
In terms of focus industries, at NRPR we’re very focused on consumer, digital, and enterprise technology companies. We manage strategic communications for companies that have enterprise software solutions, consumer and/or enterprise apps, mobile entertainment, etc. are in our wheelhouse. We also do a lot of work with individuals, whether that’s as a personality or an individual business. We’re always open to having the conversation to see if the energy is right, and if we ever feel like we’re not the best fit to help a certain client reach their goals, we love passing that onto other agencies we trust, who would better meet their needs.
Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?
Being a business owner means being responsible for the growth of the company and the growth of your team. If you go into owning a business for selfish reasons (i.e. to make money) you’re going to get a rude awakening. As a business owner, you must realize that there are no guarantees that you will make money, and, in the end, your success or failure falls on your shoulders. You have to be ready, responsible, and always focused. Of course, being a business owner can be fun and very rewarding, too. There’s a quote that really inspired me to go into business for myself: “An entrepreneur is willing to do something other people won’t to have things that other people can’t.” I truly believe in that. I took a lot of risks to start my business. As a mom, I put myself out there knowing that if something didn’t happen with this business, it wasn’t just my livelihood at stake, but my daughter’s and any employees that I had as well. It’s a lot of responsibility, so you have to be mentally ready for the journey. I believe that is one of the reasons NRPR Group has been so successful early on because success is the only option for me, and I’m not stopping until my business gets to the level it needs to be.
What motivated me is that fact that I wanted to create a place that people didn’t think existed. Where everyone on the team has a voice, a positive mental attitude, and an opportunity to grow within the company. Many people tend to hire simply based on skill and don’t really think about interpersonal skills, energy, and how important chemistry is when it comes to building a team. A lot of places I’ve worked at say that places like that don’t exist and that we should just hire someone who is good at their job, and that it doesn’t matter if they have a poor attitude. This is not my mindset, and the same thing goes for the clients we work with. We’re very focused on bringing the right energy into this agency, so we never take on clients simply to have money coming in. Remember, not all money is good money!
I think that being an entrepreneur, you should know that you can build your businesses around positive people and motivate more people to think that way and create positive change. That was a huge motivating factor for me. People said it couldn’t be done. I wanted to prove them wrong!
What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
I have three strong influences in my life. The first is my mother. She’s been my cheerleader since I was young and supported me in all things, like running for student body president in high school. She was always there to put me in the right mental state, telling me that I could do or have anything I wanted as long as I was willing to work for it. Boy, was she right. She’s been a business owner since I was little and her feisty, go-getter personality was always something I tried to emulate. My mother was 16 when she had me and went on to have five more children, but never let that stop her from getting a college education. Today, she still owns her own business, and it’s something I can look at and say if she can have it then there are no excuses. If you want something bad enough, you’ll work hard to attain it.
My second influence is Walt Disney, simply because he started from nothing but had a vision and worked to achieve it. He failed numerous times, but never stopped. Lastly, Sylvester Stallone got me through a lot of hard times, so he’s definitely been very influential. I remember watching his Rocky movies over and over again to keep myself motivated. As an underdog, I can and did relate to his messages, which kept me going on days when I thought I couldn’t do it any longer.
What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
Starting NRPR Group has been my greatest accomplishment thus far. We’ve been alive and running for more than 2 and a half years. We’re just getting started and we’re growing every day. It feels amazing to have a place where I walk through the door and “my” logo is up on the wall. I have great team members working hard at their desks, faces smiling back at me, and clients that are happy. This was all just a college dream. The day we opened up the office and put our logo up was the moment when it all felt real.
What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?
I firmly believe that hard work is always rewarded. My career, as well as the careers of others, are a testament to that. No one is going to hand you success. In my eyes, success is when you know you have worked very hard for something and then someone or something shows you that hard work has touched someone’s life. So when you wake up in the morning you have to be ready to tackle your daily tasks at the same level of intensity every day. Even in an entry-level position, there are so many people that begin with the wrong mindset thinking they are working for someone else. Every time I walked into a job, I not only wanted to do my best for the company but for myself as well. I understood that if I did a good job, not only would my employer be happy, but it would help me to get better. You’re not going to get that promotion because you show up and are breathing. You attain success and earn those promotions quicker when you work hard, and others see it.
What has been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business?
Definitely digital marketing, PR and social media, but it all begins with our great website. Our website is the hub where you will find all our social media tools, our bios, press wins, award wins, and all the other great PR we’ve done for ourselves. If someone wants to search for our company or for me, I know firsthand it’s the website and social media they’ll peek at first to get a feel for us as a company. That’s why we use great PR wins to sprinkle around both, it builds trust in our brand and helps people feel as if we’re a growing/thriving company.
Also, it’s all connected to our brand. If you do not invest in social media and a solid website, then you’re really missing out on a huge opportunity. Our social media provides the audience a glimpse at what we are doing every day. At NRPR Group, we’re constantly complimented on our social media and we have acquired new clients because clients we pitch check out and follow our activity. Yes, social media takes time and energy, and we all know that time is money. All of these platforms are free and simple to use and unfortunately I do not see that many businesses tapping into them like they should.
What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?
Attitude is everything. That goes for my attitude, the clients we serve, and our employees. It dictates whether or not you’re going to be happy where you are. If you have people that cannot get past themselves or who are negative all the time, it’ll affect you, your employees, and, most importantly, the work. Having good interpersonal balance is important because as the leader of a company you have to set the example. I know I’ll have days where I’m not at 100%, but I’ve learned how to adjust my attitude even in the most negative settings simply because I know how my attitude can affect others around me. The reality is that you’ll have days where a client is not happy or things will be not go as smoothly as you wanted them to, but if you’re constantly in a negative mindset during those times, it’ll take you nowhere but down.
Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other small business owners that have helped you run your business?
As funny as it sounds, really using the power of email is important. My entire team sends “Fire Up” emails to every other member of the team every morning as reminders of what their priorities and tasks are for the day. Before the day begins, everyone can get their schedules set and we can all be on the same track marching toward the same goals. We also love Slack at NRPR Group. It helps us communicate quickly and efficiently without crowing our inboxes. Lastly, again, I can only begin to tell you about the importance of social media. From a personal and professional standpoint, employees that generally like each other and interact offline as well as online create strong relationships. If I see one of my employees is out doing something really awesome during the weekend I want to support them, which really helps build camaraderie within our company.
Do you have any new projects coming up?
NRPR Group has a radio show, PRfect Pitch, where I interview either a fellow PR pro/agency owner or a member of the media twice a month to help spread best practices throughout the PR and media industries. We just finished an amazing year for the show with so many awesome guests, and we’re excited to let the world know that in 2017 we’re officially launching PRfect Pitch Live. We’re taking all of the elements of the digitally-broadcast show and bringing it to life to give aspiring PR and media pros the chance to interact with our game changing guests in person. We’ll have six events in 2017, every other month starting in February. I’ll serve as the live host, and will be joined by both a fellow PR pro and a member of the media, and together we’ll discuss best practice, pet peeves, what we’d like to see in our industries, and anything else the audience wants to know!
What do you do for fun/relaxation?
Sleep! Honestly in my spare time I like to be alone, reflect, and just do very simple things. When I can, I try to get out to the movies to just zone out and relax. Travel is also a BIG relaxation activity for me too. Whether I’m traveling a few hours from home or somewhere International, it’s a great way for me to get out of my work routine and recharge.
You want to write a book on ______________________ …
I want to write a book on how to prepare for life’s disasters before they happen. I actually have a handful of chapters already written! My background in PR has really helped me learn how to strategically think and plan ahead for things. You realize in life that there are certain things that are going to happen and I believe there are ways to actually plan ahead to get through it. For example, everyone will go through a breakup. So what do you do to prepare for when heartbreak arrives? You prepare by immersing yourself in things that make you feel positive.
A lot of the time when you’re going through a breakup, whether it’s a personal or professional breakup, there are so many different emotions we will go through. I have tips that I’ve tested and tried over time that really work to keep the bad times from taking over my mood for too long. I am looking forward to sharing those tips with the world.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Growing up in a blue-collar home, my mom was 16 when she had me, and my dad was also young but lived in Hawaii, so I didn’t see him often when I was growing up, there were so many people who never thought I would “make it.” There were a lot of odds stacked against me. I am the oldest of nine children and my parents couldn’t pay for my college education. I worked hard in high school to earn scholarships and worked three jobs during college to pay for my own college education.
I was not going to let anyone or anything stop me from getting ahead in life simply because of my circumstances. What I really want women to take away from this is the fact that you are the only one standing in your own way. No matter what cards you’re dealt in life, take what you have been given and figure out how to make that hand work for you.
Throughout my life I have always remained positive and figured out ways to achieve my goals. I have always understood that no one was going to do the work for me, so when people come to me and say they couldn’t go to college because their parents didn’t have the money, or that they couldn’t do something because of their circumstances, I call B.S. If you want it bad enough you will find a way. Don’t let anyone tell you that your dreams are invalid, because if I listened to those around me or made up excuses I would not be where I am now.
What’s the best way for our readers to connect with you?
Twitter: @NicoleRPR, @NRPRGroup