Behind the Headlines With Krysten Copeland

In 2012, Krysten Copeland followed her dreams, by creating KC & Co Communications, a PR agency where she directs and oversees both the high level strategy and day to day implementation across the agency. Implementing strategy and creativity with a unique backing in analysis, her young agency serves as a boutique PR & Marketing shop in D.C.

This week, Krysten sat down with us to discuss her passion for the industry, the importance of brand personas, and remaining authentic throughout your messaging.

You have had an incredibly successful career thus far! How did you discover a passion for public relations? What helps you stay motivated?

I’ve always been creative and had a passion for writing. I briefly considered journalism, but learned about PR from my older cousin who was majoring in Communications at the time. From there, I was hooked. I stay motivated by connecting with other Communication professionals, especially other women. I also parlay this passion through sharing my experiences with others through my blog, PR Girl In DC.

What is your favorite aspect of public relations?  Your least favorite aspect?

My favorite aspect will always be the thrill of getting media coverage from some of the big names. The excitement on my client’s faces always makes me happy. I work with a lot of startups, so that initial coverage is always huge for them. So far, my clients have been featured in nearly every media outlet you can think of — the New York Times, Washington Post, NBC News, and more. It definitely shows our value as a young agency to be able to demonstrate those connections. My least favorite part has to do with the sharp left turn influencer marketing has taken. Everyone wants to be an influencer. The market is saturated and it can be hard to distinguish between who is a genuine influencer and who is a poser. Influencer marketing can be incredibly impactful, but only when executed properly.

What are the biggest PR and marketing mistakes brands make?

I think the biggest mistake brands make is trying to be everything to everybody. This has especially become the case with the influx of meme culture on social media. It’s not going to work for every brand. Additionally, younger brands need to understand that there will be dissenters — it’s natural and sometimes healthy. One thing I do to help mitigate this is create brand personas. We will literally sit down and create a person that embodies who the brand is targeting. For example, sometimes, it’s 25 year old Sarah who cares about environmental issues and lives in New York City. Other times, it’s Mark, a 40 year old tech guy who loves gadgets and engaging with brands on Twitter. It all depends. But it’s super helpful to make this clear from the beginning.

What are some of the ways brands can improve their PR strategies?

I know I just downplayed influencer marketing, but there’s a way to do it successfully! It’s not going to be the same for each brand, but having a strong sense for which influencers can best benefit your brand and developing partnerships with them is key. Also, I think some PR firms are still trying to figure out the best way to merge their PR efforts with digital (social + email). I could write an entire blog post on this, but getting really granular insights into how your audience ingests content across the digital space is a major key.

Today it seems increasingly important to strategically shift between paid, owned, and earned media. How do you utilize each? How do you ensure that you are using the correct platform at the correct time?

Up until recently, owned and paid media (via social media) were pretty much one-way communications strategies. Now, there are a ton of ways to use both strategies to encourage engagement. However, in my experience, earned media will also provide the best results from an awareness standpoint. What I’ll typically do is leverage buzz from any earned media and develop a paid advertising strategy that references the media mention. Authenticity is the name of the game, so making sure that your brand’s voice is clear and consistent across all of your channels is very important.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own PR agency? Are there any pitfalls you would warn against?  

One of my motto’s is “Default to Action”. Figure out what you want to do and then just go for it. I’m not suggesting that anyone makes rash decisions, but at some point, you have to stop planning and start doing. Two years ago, when I first founded KC & Co Communications, that was my driving force.

Rapid Fire Round:

  1. If I won the lottery, I would… Travel the world for a month, start a charity for underprivileged women interested in the arts, then get back to business. 
  2. When I was young I wanted to be…. A singer, writer and actress. Triple threat 🙂
  3. If I was going to sing karaoke, I would sing…. I’m Every Woman- Whitney Houston.
  4. If I could go back in time, I would travel to… The 1920’s! I’m fascinated by the Harlem Renaissance. 
  5. If I could only eat one meal for the rest of my life, it would be…. Mexican cuisine – steak tacos, cilantro rice and elote.
  6.  If someone were to make a movie of my life, I would want to be played by…. Kerry Washington. Love her.