Speaker 1 (00:02):
This podcast is for PR pros who are looking to discover the best strategies for landing their dream retainer clients and scoring them top tier media coverage. I'm your host, Jen Berson. And I want you to have a fulfilling career in PR that totally lights you up without sacrificing your personal or family time or your sanity. Welcome to the pitching powerhouse podcast. Well, Hey there PR pros welcome back to another episode of the pitching powerhouse podcast. Why do I sound like Oprah? And when I say that, just welcome back. I'm so happy that you are joining us. Um, today's episode is really inspiring. I love interviewing other PR professionals hearing about their dreams and how they've been able to make them come true. Um, and today's guests sharing her story is no exception. I had the chance to speak with Brandy Sims, who is the founder of brand Inc PR.
Speaker 1 (01:08):
Um, she established her business last year at the beginning of the pandemic with two little ones. She's a mom of a now five and seven-year-old so she is, I told her, you are in the weeds, that's hard. Um, and she's been able to build her business based on her more than a decade of experience in PR and digital marketing and graphic design and so on. Um, but what was really interesting is how she talks about the thing, the catalyst that served as the reason to make the leap, um, really, really inspiring because what it shows me is that we are in charge of our professional careers. We are in charge of what we want our careers to look like. And if that means having your own business, that's what it was for Brandy. She knew she always wanted to have her own PR firm and just seeing in her nine to five job, how she was treated and the difference between how men and women were compensated.
Speaker 1 (02:22):
She said, that's it I've had enough. It's time, it's time to make my own path. And that's what I love so much about what, uh, what we teach in the agency accelerator and what our students have been able. And our community members have been able to accomplish using our strategies. Um, and Brandy, you know, she's no exception there also, she, um, was able to, you know, really jump into her business and bring on clients very quickly, but also charge and get the retainers that she knows that she deserves. So here she is taking her career, her income into her own hands and making it happen. And, oh my God, there's nothing to me, more inspiring. We, as women can have it all. Brandy is a mom. She is a business owner. She's a total badass and she's so sweet and so beautiful. And I just loved getting to know her, uh, getting to know her more.
Speaker 1 (03:24):
Um, I'd say Brandy's a little bit of a lurker. Like she's been a member of our programs and she's always really helpful, but she's not asking a ton of questions. She's just head down and doing the work. So it's always such a pleasure for me to actually have conversations with people who've had real results and hear how they did it. Cause I never know until they tell me. So I hope you love our chat. She is truly inspiring. Super cool. Um, Brandy would love for you to connect with her on Instagram at the end of the show, she tells you how to stay in touch and I hope you love it. Um, yeah, just, uh, let us know. You can DM me on Instagram, leave a review of our show if it inspires you. Um, we are here for you. So check in to my interview with Brandy Sims, founder and CEO of branding, PR Brandy, thank you so much for joining us on the pitching powerhouse podcast today. How are you?
Speaker 2 (04:29):
I am doing fantastic, but super, super excited to be here. I can't tell you how much I've missed. I'm looking forward to speaking with you.
Speaker 1 (04:37):
I am so excited to chat with you too. Um, it's been so awesome to kind of watch your, your journey and how quickly you jumped into everything, you know, became a very active and engaged member of our community and jumped into our programs had first. Um, but first let's start at the basics. I'd love to hear more about your, you know, more about you and your business. What do you specialize in? Tell us, tell us everything we need to know about Brandy since
Speaker 2 (05:04):
Of course, of course. Well, in inks of time, of course, um, with that in mind, you know, I, I want to kind of pinpoint some really incredible, incredible moments that have happened in my life that helped to shape me to the point that I'm in now. So branding Sims originated from Nashville, Tennessee, um, was a part of an army military family. Um, and we grew up in a very fast paced environment, constantly moving, constantly leaving. That just was kind of in my DNA. It's embedded in me and, you know, through, uh, connections and relationships and building that and, and understanding that aspect of your you're constantly going and leaving and, and honestly honing in on, you've gotta make those relationships. You gotta make those connections now or learned that very early on. So as I got older and started to learn more about the communications, feel more about PR I was incredibly, incredibly excited and passionate about it.
Speaker 2 (06:03):
I wanted all of the hectic craziness that I saw on television, as well as seen behind the scenes and just wanting to find ways that I could grow and learn in my career. So I got started very early. Um, 2008 is when I first got my, um, dual internship by way of a local bank and also a Philharmonic orchestra. So from one end, I got to learn financial business professional tone and on the other kind of learning more of the arts and humanities nonprofit side, which is more quirky and language, and really kind of honing in on that and using the information that I was learning as I was in school, working on my communications, uh, bachelors and applying that to the real world sense. So over the years continue to work in nonprofits, working with, um, different kinds of sector groups and, um, got married.
Speaker 2 (07:01):
Of course life happens, you know, and you're [inaudible] as well, right? Yes, yes he is. He joined maybe. And that was kind of one of those, okay, this is going to change our lives for sure. So we spent about five years traveling from east to west coast and again, getting those, those opportunities for engagement connections. And for me, it was very much where I kind of built on those networking opportunities when it came to PR. And that's where I really attributed those years living in California, living on in Virginia and the DMV area to how I was able to grow in the career. Because up until that point, it was very, very limited. I was living in Oklahoma, very, very slim pickings when it comes to PR and communications shops, let alone work opportunities. Um, so it was a very narrow view of what PR was actually like.
Speaker 2 (07:56):
So being able to work in an agency where we specialize in sports figures and, um, celebrities and getting to see kind of that aspect of it and, and definitely handling more of your national aspects, it completely blew my mind. And I was just like, again, this is, this is the field. This is the career that I want to be in. And just completely wanting to dive into whatever it took and whatever I needed to really, you know, Excel in it. So 2018, um, husband gets medically retired. We moved back to Oklahoma and I started a position, um, with the local chamber. And during that time I was able to obtain my MBA working with businesses. So I was again, applying what I was learning, but then also kind of having that, um, application be in real life and working with business owners and kind of got that experience learning more about, okay, this is entrepreneurship, this is more of that business town and really honing in and that aspect of it. And, you know, I speak about this a lot because it's such a pivotal point in my trajectory for my career, at least as of now, uh, when I learned that I was being undervalued and that there was issues of gender wage gap disparity, and it, it really created a challenge for me.
Speaker 1 (09:19):
Yeah. How did you find that out? So you were in a nine to five as VP of communications back in Oklahoma, where you are now and in 2018, you have this awareness or realization that you were being underpaid compared to your male counterparts. Is that, is that kind of a good summary of yes. And how did you, oh yeah.
Speaker 2 (09:44):
Yes. Well, I learned, you know, once you get promoted into executive level positions, now you have access to more information. And then that's where I found, okay, well, wait a minute. I'm not getting paid as much as the guys and I'm doing just as much work and I'm providing and adding value. And not only that, you know, I was able to obtain national recognition for the work that I've produced when it came to the communications field. And that was the 10 plus years that I had working in the field and understanding, and, and being able to customize it to this particular. Now I look at it as a client, but organization and being able to apply that in, in a real, tangible way. So when I learned that it was just kind of, I would say less than five minutes to say, oh, no, no, no, no, no, no.
Speaker 2 (10:30):
I got to get off on my own. I got to do it. And I think that is really the fire that was lit in me to say, oh, no, no, no, we're 2020. Yes. The pandemics going on, but you know, this is my shot. And if anything, I have to bet on myself, I have to bet on myself and I have to build that confidence. And I think that was the moment that I was like, you know what? You've got this, no excuses, you can make it happen. You just have to go for it. And that's exactly what I did. Yeah. So which leads to today.
Speaker 1 (11:10):
So tell us where, so this has always been kind of a lifelong career goal of yours having your own agency and you make that decision and then boom, a once in a century pandemic kits and here you are trying to figure it all out, but now you're here, you know, it's a year and a half or more into running, um, brand Inc. I love the name branding PR, um, which ties into how you specifically spell your name, Brandi with an eye. Um, so, you know, how did that transition look? And I'd also love for you to touch on, you mentioned having an MBA, um, how did an MBA prepare you for entrepreneurship versus other resources that you maybe have stumbled upon and you're in your soul, you know, agency owners journey here.
Speaker 2 (12:00):
Oh, actually that's such a good question. I love it though. I love it though. And I honestly feel like I have such a mouthful, but when you talk about your life and your experiences and try to pack it into the convinced side, sometimes it's kind of difficult, but you know, for me having an MBA, it absolutely. Yes, it did very much prepare me for at least the basic aspects of operations, how to start a business LLCs. What, what are the different classifications you need to have? What are the things that you need to, you know, achieve in order to have a, a legitimate business, uh, foundational wise, it was super, super helpful for me, but I will also kind of point out to imposter syndrome. You know, for me, absolutely love education. I pride myself in learning training resources and absorbing as much information as possible. But I will say this, I do hinder myself and I have seen that with other female entrepreneurs that will do the same. Well, let me get this degree and then I'll be ready to start, or let me go ahead and do this. And then I'll be ready to ask for a raise or ask for promotion or even ask if this position is the right one for me, I am very much a part of mine.
Speaker 1 (13:14):
Yeah. I'm reading, um, Jamie Kern, Lima, his book right now, believe it. She is the founder of it cosmetics and sold her business to L'Oreal for $1.2 billion. Um, and I'm reading her book right now. And just this morning, I read a little excerpt that she essentially said that women feel that they have to meet 100% of all of the qualifications for any job that they're applying for, or that they have to be a hundred percent ready to move forward with any kind of career decision. Whereas men will just kind of say, close enough and just hit the ground running. Or if they look at a job, um, they'll say, you know, I meet like 50, 60% of the criteria. I'm going to throw my hat in the ring and it ends up kind of holding women back because we feel like we have to be so much more kind of established or the right fit or have all of the degrees. And all of the things figured out before we can actually move forward with that dream. So I understand that point. You feel like I got to take it all in and you're kind of in like, um, analysis paralysis, like you're thinking like I have to know everything before I can do anything. So
Speaker 2 (14:26):
I love that analysis paralysis. It's exactly right too, because it very much hindered my ability to just say, just go for it. Why not own your own agency? It took me, I kid you not probably my 10th year of working in PR to even be comfortable calling myself a PR professional saying that I was a strategic communications consultant, a publicist. I was very much like, well, I, I can't do that because I need to have worked at an agency to be able to have that right. To say that. And it's so, so important with resources that you provide that people know that you empower, you know, so many different individuals that are even considering to jump into this field that, Hey, you've got this and here are the tools that you can access it's available for you. It just takes you making that step. Like that's the hardest part is you just taking that step and saying, look, you know, these resources are here. Don't let this hinder you or stop you from achieving an accessing, whatever it is that you want. And what's wrong with a failure, you know, we all fail at some point in life. Yeah. Failures, disappoints to try.
Speaker 1 (15:38):
Yeah. It's a learning experience. And I love what you said. I say this all the time. Like you're just betting on yourself. If when I started my business, I was just betting on myself. I'll take that bet all day long. I'm going to put in the work, I'm going to figure it out. So you felt that way too. Um, but it's interesting at the same time, you're saying it took you a decade to call yourself a comms professional because you never worked at an agency. That's that little bit of imposter syndrome creeping in. So how did you overcome that? Because that's a huge part of feeling confident to run your own agency. If you feel like I'm not even a comps pro I can't call myself that then launching into like, I'm running my own communications agency. What was the big shift for you to feel, or at least, you know, overcome that initial feeling of imposter syndrome?
Speaker 2 (16:28):
Oh, that's such a great question. I think for me it was definitely the experience, the learning, the being able to actually, okay, I've taken this information now because you know, Brandy has got to go get resources that to get information. So I feel confident I can talk about it and, and then applying it to real people, real businesses. And that to me was kind of the turning point from the imposter syndrome and just kind of taking it in. No, I have every tool that I need. I don't need another booklet, but I don't need to add another degree, although it's great. But you know, I have all the tools that I need at that 10 years on some people that are just deciding, well, maybe PR is what I want to do. Like that's a value and just kind of constantly reaffirming and, and just reminding myself, like you have everything that you need.
Speaker 2 (17:20):
Now, if you're struggling in an area, there are wonderful, wonderful resources, like profitable PR pros available that can help you and get you to the point where it's no longer a barrier for you, which I definitely see. And I've heard in communications as a challenge for early starters is I don't have access to context. That's fine. Here's a database that issue access to that. Oh, well, I'm not a good writer. Well guess what? There's plenty of freelancers. That's all they do. And you can outsource to them and you can hire them onto your team. There are so many different resources that are available now that I think 15, 20 years ago, you know, it was really difficult. It wasn't a very, as open as it is now. There's so much access to resources. It's literally just you tapping into it.
Speaker 1 (18:09):
That's exactly why I created this whole community and all of the resources and programs that we have available. Because when I started my business 16 years ago, there was nothing. And in fact, if you asked for help, you were kind of shut out because people felt like secret sauce. It's like they had to keep it close to the vest. Like these are my secrets and they couldn't let you know about it. And I felt like there had to be other people out there like me who wanted more of a community feeling who wanted access to things that would allow them to fast track results. And what was really cool for me is that building the profitable PR post community attracted the right people. And if people like you who are wanting to learn, they're ready to get to work and they're open and sharing and build a stronger foundation of community. So that we're all better. Um, so I feel really grateful for that and grateful that you found us. Um, and so like, what was it, how did you find us or what was it about what we're putting out into the world that felt like it was the right thing for you at the right time or connected with you?
Speaker 2 (19:24):
Definitely seeing, um, some of the correspondence that was happening between the group. I did my research. I wanted to find other groups that I could connect with now that, you know, I've got the idea in mind. I kind of want to start my own PR agency, but where, where do I go? How do I really get started? I ended up staying in the business side of that, an MBA. I, I know the steps and procedures that way, but for PR it's very, very specific. So I want to feel comfortable and I want to feel confident in it. So doing research, uh, looking up different groups and I found profitably PR pros joining the group, and I saw this incredible thread of women, of course, there's men on there too. But for women, the women
Speaker 1 (20:06):
Are more vocal.
Speaker 2 (20:08):
Yes. Women are more vocal. Okay. All of these. Yeah. Probably just kind of seeing, okay, well, what are, what is she asking? Oh, that's actually kind of good. I, I was going to ask, but nevermind, but you know, seeing this incredible thread of questions of resources being shared, Hey, I'm going to be online at this time and let's talk about this. And again, kind of going back to when I first got started and just kind of how information was very much kept within. And if you did ask and you kind of, weren't a part of it quite yet. It was kind of like a, well, where are you coming from? Are you trying to steal, you know, what it is that we're doing and try to duplicate it now with this group, it was very, very inspiring. And it definitely, again, kind of re-invigorated my confidence in it because there was so much incredible resources and information just easily and seamlessly being shared.
Speaker 2 (21:01):
Um, and it definitely helped it within, I'd probably say my first month in business went, my business route, built all my contacts, word of mouth. I was able to attain five new clients within that first month of me being opening and mind you, this is during the pandemic. Everyone is shutting down, like literally see businesses. They've gone bankrupt. They've shut down. And here I am, hi guys, you remember me from this? And now I'm doing this. This is what I'm passionate about. This is what I've actually done for some time, but now it's real. And we're happy we're making this happen, was able to attain that within the first month and had some great successes, but still kind of reached a cap is what I, what I started to notice. And I stopped beginning, you know, just all of the word of mouth people and started getting just, I call them the randos people, just, maybe that just kind of go on your page.
Speaker 2 (21:58):
And they're just like, well, what do you do? Can you, can you fix my Wikipedia? Are you I'm like, hold on. Did I communicate this as a communicator that I wanted this? This is not what I think, but I realized I didn't really mesh down. And I know you speak about this a lot in the trainings. And I didn't really niche down. And I didn't say like specifically, this is my area. I just said, I do PR and I've had this experience and I've gotten this placement, you know, I want to work for you. So within those months of seeing that and seeing that transition, I came to the conclusion like, look, this is, this is an actual valuable training resource moment. And I need help because I'm still new. You know, I may not be new to the field and learning all of this information or actually having experience within this field.
Speaker 2 (22:47):
But I am new to having a business in PR and I need to tap into those that look, I've been doing it for years and years and years. And the approach is going to be completely different than the traditional way of running your business. And that's where, you know, I think it was right after Thanksgiving. I was like, you know what, agency accelerator, I keep seeing the ads popping up. It's speaking to me. I see it pop up in the group chats. And one of my good friends, Amanda some-odd, she was like, yes, well worth it. You've got to do it. You've got to do it. And I was like, yep, we're going for it. And within a week, I kid you not, I had retained w pitched exactly how I was supposed to pitch with kind of the guidance and the advice that was shared on their pitch.
Speaker 2 (23:36):
Then that way completely reformat it down to my paperwork, because I didn't realize that, you know, having appropriate disclaimers and things of that nature, like there was much, I overhauled my entire agency and really was a sponge for agency accelerator. And it made such, just such a difference, such a difference. And within that week, I had retained my first duty client at the rate that I was commanding, not a discount, not the, oh, well, let me work a little bit because I'm still new. And you know, I'm new. Let me work a couple months and then I'll be deserving of some pay none at all. And they signed six months contract right there. And I was just, I did my happy dance. Oh my gosh, my heart was so full. And I was like, oh my gosh, this is amazing. I am seeing agency accelerators, accelerators, praises, and you are amazing. And it was just, it makes such a difference. It makes such a difference. And I, yeah, I, I cannot speak enough about it to say within a week to have that type of impact is almost unheard of, but it is absolutely attainable and I could not have done it without the program.
Speaker 1 (24:48):
Oh my God. That I just got goosebumps. That makes me so happy. Anyone who's listening as swear to God, we do not like pay her to say that, but no, I'm so not at all. I'm so I'm just in awe of you because it's, you know, you have to do the work. It's not like you sign up and then like, boom, these things happen. You've always been super focused and put in the work and realized what needed to get done. And then figuring out that, you know, the way you were doing it. Yeah. You're landing clients, but you're already spread so thin because you're not getting the rate that you really need. And you can't just keep taking all these clients at this rate. And then how do you position yourself to command a premium retainer you put in the work and you, you did that. And I just love hearing that it paid off so quickly. Um, it's a Testament to you and also your network and building on the results you've already had. Um, so it's really cool to see it like actually work in action. It makes me like, just so happy. I'm so proud of you. It's so great.
Speaker 2 (25:55):
Yes, yes. Yeah. It was just, I was just in awe, but it was it's like you said, you have to put in that work, you have to put in that time and effort. And to me, it was very much an investment into my business and it was, and that's how I viewed it is these training resources are things that I would otherwise not have access to. I need this, if I want to see my dream, because that's really what it was. This is my dream to help my own PR agency. And I kid you not. If I can ever have access to my MySpace account, I still have it. When I was 13 years old, it was one of my top 10 goals is that God wants to earn our own, to own my own PR agency. And to be able to do this, it has been just, I mean, besides my children and my husband, my family, there it's down the list of one of the most amazing things that have happened in pivotal moments in my life that I was able to successfully achieve this. So keeping that in mind, I was not going to let this just fail because you know, I'm not pitching the way I need to, or simply that I was ignorant to how I need to be going after people. And that's where I think this program was incredibly, incredibly helpful because it really got me to that level that I needed to be. But I had to make that first step. And I'm so glad that I did. Yeah.
Speaker 1 (27:17):
I'm so glad you did too. And I know that a lot of the things that we're sharing that you implemented in your business, they're kind of one time things that now you have the solid foundation and you can build on it and you know how to position yourself. And it all, you know, it's intentional. Like you had this goal and this dream, and now you've implemented these changes to make your business grow the way you want it to, to make it the kind of agency that serves the life you want to have because you are a mom, your kids are little five and seven. Oh my God. I said, you are in the weeds. It's like, that's yeah, you're just starting school. You've got little like candor, a fruit. Yeah, it's a lot. So I, that's my whole point of getting these resources and sharing is because I want women like you, women like me to be able to build a business that supports a dream, brings them great revenue and allows them this flexibility to be the kind of mom or present parent that they always aspire to be. So, absolutely. I'm so excited for you. Um, so one last question for you. What advice would you give to aspiring PR pros? You have obviously 12 or more years of being a PR professional, and you're going into year two of running your own agency. What advice do you think would be helpful to somebody that's ready to do what you're doing?
Speaker 2 (28:43):
I would definitely say best advice is don't give up, you know, do not give up. If this is something that you're passionate about and that you really, really want to do. You have an abundance of resources to be able to make that happen. You just need to take that first step. And usually that is the hardest, but that first step for you, I cannot tell you like it changes your life. It really truly does. Work-life balance has been significantly improved from working like 60 hours a week in communications to deciding what my schedule is. And this is what I'm going to work. And being able to delegate tasks and hat, building my team and having a profitable business. I am like this close from reaching. My six-figure goal also won a part of agency accelerator in the beginning where we talk about what is your financial goal?
Speaker 2 (29:40):
Where do you want to be at? And I will be probably reaching out to you guys in January to be like, guys, this is where I wrote this down. Jared knew where he one, 2001, and now it's 2022. And this is how I was able to achieve this. Yes. But you know, it's because you you've just cannot and you simply should not give up. You have to stay on it. And this is such an incredible time because there's such an abundance of resources and incredible programs like this that you can tap into and get the guidance and get the support that you really, really need to make that dream happen. You just have to, you have to do it. Um, but you just cannot give up. Don't give up some days, you know, we, we struggle with it, but you just have to remind yourself, you've got this.
Speaker 2 (30:28):
And if you can't remind yourself that you've got this, go into profitable PR pros and just see just being and the empowerment, the encouragement, and, and others that are going through challenges or celebrating successes. And I feel like that will make you just reinvigorated, like, okay, I'm not the only one that's going through this. Okay. What advice do you have? And just tapping that, give back to it and just saying, you know what? I got this, this is okay. I'm, I'm not the only one. I'm not alone sheep here. Like I've got a really solid support system that can make this dream possible. So can don't give up best advice.
Speaker 1 (31:07):
That's so awesome. Will you make me feel reinvigorated? Just hearing the passion you have for your own business and making this dream of yours happen and just jumping in headfirst. I mean, I know you're like a forever students. You're getting your PhD right now, too, right? Like you never gonna stop learning even I have that in common. Um, my God. Um, but I, and so I, I'm just, I'm really inspired by everything that you have done and that you are doing and you bet on yourself and you made your dream happen. And your twelve-year-old my space list. Writing self would be so proud of where you are today. And Brandy, thank you so much for coming on to our show and sharing your story with us. Where can our audience find you and stay connected and keep up with what you're up to?
Speaker 2 (32:01):
Absolutely. So you can always follow me on social media at Brandy Sims PR. Um, also follow us branding PR at branding PR. Um, we are on all the major networks, um, and I'd love to connect with you. Um, definitely love the opportunity to share information or simply we've been having a lot of virtual coffee and chats with other PR colleagues, which is so, so fun and just kind of catching up and I'd love to connect with you as well. Um, so definitely reach out. Um, and, and I would love to speak with you, share information, share helpful resources, and to continue, you know, building on this, this amazing, um, industry in this field, um, such a wonderful time where we're also very supportive. So I just, I just want to be as much, um, as a, as a, a tool to support others and communicate all the wonderful things that have been so helpful for me as much as possible. So would love to get in touch with you.
Speaker 1 (33:03):
Yeah. Thank you so much for that guys. Connect with Brandy. She's the real deal we're so honored to have you in our community. Thank you so much for your time today. Thank
Speaker 2 (33:14):
Speaker 1 (33:17):
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the pitching powerhouse podcast. If you're ready to start, grow and scale a profitable agency, all on your own terms, you should consider joining the agency accelerator, check out the link in the episode description to learn more, to achieve your big, scary goals and truly live the type of lifestyle you've always wanted. It's time to join the agency accelerator inside this incredible program. You'll learn exactly how to structure your PR agency to fill your pipeline with high paying clients and establish a consistent revenue stream. So you can run a business that lights you up and that doesn't run you. This program is built around the exact steps that I took to grow a seven figure PR agency, generation PR, and now hundreds of other PR professionals around the world have implemented these techniques and strategies to scale their own agencies too. So this stuff works. You guys check out the link in this episodes description to learn more and as always be sure to tune in next week for another incredible episode, packed with the insights you need to become a pitching powerhouse.