How This PR Pro Overcame a Scarcity Mindset and Blossomed Into Confidence — PR Pro Spotlight ft. Amanda HoldsworthMar 01, 2022
“By taking a step back to recognize and understand that I’m really good at what I do, I opened myself up to dream clients and projects…and that’s exactly what came next!”
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live a life you love running a PR agency and working with your dream clients? Our PR Pro Spotlight Series interviews our students and community members who have made the leap into PR and found huge success!
We’ll be covering all the juicy insider details, from their biggest challenges and favorite parts of the job to their best advice for aspiring PR pros.
Today, we’re sitting down with the amazing Amanda Holdsworth, CEO and Founder of Holdsworth Communications! Amanda has an incredible 22 years of experience in PR, and four degrees to go along with it. It’s not surprising that she’s an absolute powerhouse in educational PR!
Tell us a little about your business and niche!
I’m the CEO and founder of Holdsworth Communications, and we specialize in educational PR and storytelling. We really focus on K-12 but also work in higher ed, ed-tech, and with some agencies here and there. Really anything in the education space!
I’m kind of obsessed with learning environments. I have a Master of Arts in Strategic Public Relations and a Doctor of Education in Organizational Change and Leadership, both from the University of Southern California. I’m also Accredited in Public Relations, bringing me up to four degrees total!
I have over 20 years of experience and have led the PR, communications, marketing, and branding efforts of both public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities. My post-doc research in organizational culture, burnout, and employee engagement has been featured in multiple global publications as well.
I’m also a proud mom of two school-aged kids, and we love traveling, exploring, and learning together as a family. My kids are super interested in what I do and love hearing about what other students their age are doing at school!
What were you doing before you became a PR pro?
I’ve been working in PR and education my entire career. Actually, my first job as a teenager was on a college campus! Before starting my own agency, I was an assistant professor of PR and marketing in Canada and here in the US. I also freelanced and consulted along the way for different schools.
But when the university I worked at downsized and my position was cut, I had to make the choice to go full-time into freelancing. Literally the day after that, I got a LinkedIn message from a superintendent asking me to consult for them! I went full-force with my own agency from there.
Can you share some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a PR pro?
One major struggle has been other people doubting my process. I’ve spent my entire career in PR, going all the way back to college in the 90s. I earned a graduate degree in Strategic Public Relations and was completely immersed in research and strategy planning, as well as tactics.
It’s so frustrating when people just don’t understand how long it takes to make headway in media relations. I mean, it can take weeks or even months!
Constantly battling other people to get your point across and having to prove myself has been really difficult. When I was in-house, I used to want to shout, “Please just trust me to do my job — I know what I’m doing!”
Finances were a huge challenge, too. My husband is also an entrepreneur, and for the longest time, my job provided benefits we needed, like healthcare. There’s a lot of fear in stepping out on your own and not having the foundation of a 9–5 job anymore.
How did you find the Profitable PR Pros Community, and how long have you been a member?
I found the Profitable PR Pros Community through Facebook, and have been a member for about two years!
I’m a member of a bunch of Jen’s programs, including:
What’s your favorite part about being a member of the Profitable PR Pros community?
I love hearing how other agency owners handle aspects of their business. People outside of our field don’t necessarily understand what we do or the challenges we face. It can be difficult to sift through advice from friends and family outside of PR to figure out what ACTUALLY works for me and my business.
It’s amazing to have a community to go to for advice and inspiration. We can ask questions and learn from each other since we span so many industries.
The templates in The Agency Accelerator are so helpful as well! This community is just an awesome asset to have as a PR pro.
What inspired you to join our programs?
I had the PR know-how, but, as a planner, the thought of NOT always knowing where my next paycheck was coming from hindered my dreams of going out on my own.
I was really inspired by Jen’s story, too! She didn’t come from a PR background, but she still found incredible success.
Have our programs helped you experience positive transformations?
Of course! Since starting the programs and joining the Profitable PR Pros community, I’ve had a serious shift from a scarcity to a confident mindset. I stopped living in fear of not getting another client and stopped being upset when a bid wouldn’t work out.
Just by taking that step back to recognize and understand that I’m really good at what I do, I opened myself up to dream clients and projects…and that’s exactly what came next! Incredible and exciting opportunities started coming into my life as I grew into my confident mindset.
I have a note in my office that says, "I choose the projects I WANT to work on," which has been so transformative in shifting me from a scarcity mindset to being empowered. There is no better feeling than getting to work with clients on projects that truly light me up. Although it's hard work, it's energizing, motivating and makes me want to go above and beyond for them.
What do you love MOST about the work you do and the clients you work with?
There’s really no better satisfaction than telling the “good” stories of what’s happening in schools, especially right now. Educators and administrators are under such scrutiny, so I love finding hidden gems in schools and building stories around them.
You can give audiences a much better picture of what a school or university is REALLY like, and give a morale boost to the school itself! I’m so proud to showcase these schools and educators in ways that they don’t see themselves.
I also have loved working with schools and universities all over the world! It’s an amazing opportunity to learn about educational systems and styles in other countries. Just this year, I worked with educational institutions from four continents. My hope is to go on lots of site visits when the world opens up—and bring my kids along, too!
What are some outlets you’ve secured features in for yourself and your clients?
I’ve secured features in some incredible outlets! I’ve landed my clients in NBC News, Parents Latina, U.S. News & World Report, Fast Company, Good Morning America, TODAY Parents, and more! Three of my clients were recently featured in Good Housekeeping as well.
I’m so lucky to have worked with these publications and am super proud of the work my clients and I have done!
What advice would you give to aspiring PR pros?
My advice would be to do your research, craft personalized pitches, and don’t spray-and-pray.
Niching down is SO important to help you do this! When you know your niche, you can create better pitches for clients and point to your proven success in this area. You don’t have to constantly switch your brain between different tasks and models and strategies.
We’re so grateful that Amanda decided to share her story with us! We can all learn a lot from her growth from a scarcity mindset to a confident, empowered one, especially when overcoming doubt and fear.
Check out Amanda’s agency Holdsworth Communications, and be sure to join the Profitable PR Pros community over on Facebook so that you can take advantage of all that this amazing community has to offer!