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Ellie McNevin Founder, Birdie Public Relations
What are the hardest and most satisfying parts of running your own business?
The most rewarding part is definitely seeing our clients’ businesses grow as a result of our efforts. PR is a long game, and I’ve seen the biggest results when I’ve worked with clients over long periods of time. It’s extra special to have clients become friends after working together for so long!
The most challenging part is the fact that it is currently such a competitive media landscape. We find that the best partnerships with clients come when they bring us in well before a launch or major PR moment so we can help craft their story with them from the very beginning. With newsroom layoffs and media outlets thinking through new revenue models post-Covid we have to make sure each pitch has a lot of meat on the bones in order to ensure editorial coverage.
Why did you land on PR as the need you wanted to fill for your clients and potential clients?
Honestly it’s just what I’m best at! We partner with some great sister agencies for paid media and marketing, but having been an editor previously my brain is just always in story-telling mode. I fell into this work very organically – after leaving New York and editorial positions there I started seeing all of these wonderful brands that weren’t on my radar when I was living in the city. I sent them to my friends that were editors at the time and my career in PR began! My strategy is a bit more refined these days but it all stems from thinking through stories with my editor’s hat on.
What does PR mean these days; how should brands think about what this category should encompass?
Great question! PR is all about credibility and top of funnel awareness. Of course we LOVE when we see stories turn into major sales or leads for clients, but often it’s the first time someone is learning about a brand, so it can take time for you to see immediate business growth. Our main focus at Birdie is on landing stories in national media outlets and we partner with clients to help them think through which outlets will help them reach the customer base that makes the most sense for their business. We also support anything that will hopefully lead to a story – editor events and desksides, editor gifting, press release and media kit development, etc. We’re always striving to get new eyes on your business. And of course PR works best in tandem with social media, email marketing, paid advertising and influencer marketing.
You started Birdie during the pandemic; did the pandemic and the leap to work for yourself have anything to do with one another?
Slightly. I’ve been doing PR for the last 8 years and started by doing it on my own, so it really just felt like the right time to return to that. Having a baby was probably more of a driver than the pandemic as it was very important to me to be doing work that I truly loved if I had to be away from him during the day. I also wanted to set my own schedule. I love that so many of our clients are also moms – it’s helped me to build a really supportive and flexible company culture.
You also became a mom in the pandemic; did you always want a family?
I did! We have wanted to have a family for so long and actually went the route of IVF for both of our children. It was something that we were always hoping would happen and it felt like such a miracle when we got those first pregnancy test results! Of course I never could have imagined that after all of those years of trying that our first baby would be born in the midst of a global pandemic! We had the best doctors and the most supportive family and of course I had nothing else to compare it to, so it all worked out in the end.
What have you liked and disliked the most about parenthood that has surprised you?
I feel like I’m finally getting the hang of being present in the moment – it’s still something that’s hard for me! As a business owner with a constantly racing mind, it’s challenging to sit still and appreciate all that’s in front of me, but I feel like children are the best teachers! In the beginning I truly disliked it – I missed being able to multitask when I was with my son, but now it’s such a nice mental break and wonderful bonding time with him. He will spend twenty minutes in the garden looking under every leaf for a bee, and it’s just so peaceful to watch him learn about the world around him.
I was also so excited for the baby stage after waiting so long to grow our family that I’ve been completely surprised by how much I’ve loved the toddler stage! I get to have little conversations with my son now and he is hysterical! It’s so entertaining and such a joy.
Who are some of the moms you look to as role models or helpers on parenting advice? What do they do (or not do, as it were) that you admire?
It’s so helpful to have a sounding board of women who are living in similar circumstances and have had all types of experiences when it comes to birth, feeding babies and raising them at all ages. I think when you’re raising young children a lot of the judgment goes completely out the window – we all know that we’re just doing the very best to be there for our children each and every day and there are so many ways to do that – IVF, home birth, formula-feeding, breastfeeding, epidurals, etc.
What are some of the misconceptions or lies you think women or mothers are told about parenting or motherhood that you’d like to dispel?
Ha! How real do you want me to be?! I don’t think they are lies per se, but I was completely unprepared for the fact that it might take us a while to get pregnant or that IVF would ever be on the radar for us. I was also unprepared for how incredibly challenging breastfeeding would be. Each situation is completely unique so I always try to share information with new mothers delicately as they may have a totally different experience. But for me, those were definitely things that I was mentally not prepared for at all.
What are your dreams for Birdie? What’s on tap for the next 24 months to help advance those dreams and goals?
Such a fun question! I honestly just want to continue to see our clients grow and thrive. We are a service based business and want to provide the best service possible. I think we can continue to refine that process so that clients have a high-touch experience that allows us to operate as closely to an in-house team as possible.
I also think there are a lot of businesses that may not be ready for PR quite yet, but that we would love to help get to that point. With that in mind, one of my dreams is to launch a self-guided “prepping for PR” program that would help companies identify and create visual assets and key narratives so that they’re ready for PR when the time is right.