It was nearly 20 years ago that Susan Kricun started her very own public relations (PR) firm, a one-woman operation at the time, headquartered in a spare closet. Today, she’s a smart, successful entrepreneur with a portfolio of work for some of Phoenix, Arizona’s biggest brands, the Phoenix Suns and the Arizona Diamondbacks, among them. We sat down with her to learn how she first got started and how she starts each day.
Can you explain what someone in PR does?
PR is all about perception. Essentially, it’s about sharing an organization’s message, their product or service, in a way that increases visibility, brand awareness, or sales—whatever the goal may be. We could do that through articles, either online or in print publications, or television segments, say on a morning show. That’s media relations. There are other components, too, like community relations, crisis management, etc.
How did you get started?
It’s interesting to me how it all unfolded, because it wasn’t intentional. My last semester of college, I got a really coveted internship in Sports and Entertainment. I wasn’t a sports fan at all, but I applied because I had the time. (I later learned that I got it partly for that reason.) I was very fortunate in that I met some wonderful, influential people during my time there. That really built the foundation for my career.
Relationships have been an important part of your career. Do you have any networking advice for someone just starting out?
Yes! Serve on a non-profit committee. They’re hotbeds for seasoned professionals who have tremendous Rolodexes. (Do you people even know what a Rolodex is anymore?) Not only is it a way to give back and to do good in the community, you’ll also be surrounded by these professionals—board members, committee members and nonprofit staff. It’s an incredible opportunity to network!
When do you usually do your best work?
I would say either in the first few hours of the morning or late in the afternoon when the phone starts to quiet down. I like to get up, have some breakfast, read the paper (if you can believe that), then somewhere between 7:30 am and 8:00 am I’ll sit down and get started. I try really hard to schedule meetings in the afternoon so that I can stay focused in the morning.
Working for yourself out of your home, how do you manage to separate work and life?
That’s a good question, one that I work on every single day. At one point in my career, I was working around the clock. I made a commitment to myself, that when I started working for myself, I would really focus on that balance. One way I do that is by not working nights or weekends. After 5:30 or 6:00, if I get a text message, I might glance at it, but I won’t respond until normal business hours. The people that I work with know when they can and can’t expect to hear from me, and by setting expectations, I can put healthy boundaries into place and have work-life balance.
Taking time to do something physical, like yoga or hiking, do you think that impacts how you approach your work?
Yes, 110%. I’ve found that on days when I feel completely overwhelmed, if I step away and come back to it, I can make progress. I’m constantly in a state of “If I can just…” If I can just finish this paper or write this post, then I’ll be caught up. The joke is that there’s always something else. Part of creating balance is knowing that there’s always going to be more to do.
You’re a successful entrepreneur. What advice do you have for someone who would like to start a business?
It’s not as scary as you think it is. I think getting a paycheck is an illusion—you could just as easily be fired as you could lose a client. I’ve had that personal experience. I’d say to start by making a list of your contacts. Go deep. Professors from college, previous employers, friends, friends of friends, places you shop. Really sit down and do a brain dump about your circle of influence. Who do you know? Who do they know? How can those people support the type of business that you’re trying to create?
What’s the most valuable piece of advice that you’ve been given?
Do the job that you’re good at and hire good people to do the rest. One time, I spent an entire day delivering press kits—this was back when people actually delivered press kits—and it was my brother who said, “Why are you doing that?” He said, “What is your hourly rate? Look, you can hire a courier for $15 an hour instead of whatever you’re charging your clients for your time. Don’t you think that makes more sense?” That was an important lesson. Same thing with bookkeepers, CPAs . . . find good, qualified people who understand your business and do what they do well, so that you can focus on doing what you do well.
To learn more about Susan and her services, visit KricunMedia.com