After 13 years of working in public relations, Nicole Rodrigues had a career defining moment. The veteran PR miracle worker knew she could create the best agency in the industry, but she just had to go out in the world and do it.
Using her knowledge of the business and what clients wanted, Rodrigues created NRPR Group. Since its founding, NRPR Group has continually built upon its successes. She has worked with a number of major players in electronics, sports and media, including PlayStation, Hulu, Oakland Raiders and Yahoo!.
Rodrigues doesn’t rest on her laurels, however. She is continually building a better PR company through her constant hard work. It is that hard work and her tireless attention to detail that has helped NRPR Group win a number of awards in the PR field.
Rodrigues has been fighting the odds since she was young, and today, she can officially say she has ‘made it’.
Totalprestige Magazine recently spoke with Rodrigues found out more about her life and the NRPR Group.
Nicole, please tell us about NRPR Group and the services you provide
Whether you’re launching a new brand, revitalizing a mature brand, looking to generate strategic press mentions that will keep you top-of-mind for your target markets, or trying to build a strong following through digital marketing efforts, we’re the team of hybrid Public Relations professionals you want to be working with.
NRPR Group is what most people would traditionally think of as a public relations agency, but we’re that and so much more. We’re the agency that understands that public relations, digital marketing, social media, marcomms, events, thought leadership and more all play significant roles in a company’s marketing mix. We ignite these areas of our clients’ businesses through clear planning and cohesive messaging, while strategically leading them to hit identified goals. We’re the agency that understands how to partner with CEOs, internal marketing and PR teams, and leaders within an organization to uncover the passion, vision, and differentiators that lie within any given company, and share those stories with the key audiences who matter.
Whether we handle one, two, or ALL areas of your communications program, you’ll find comfort knowing we understand them all. We’re well-known for being an AGENCY OF THE FUTURE; delivering extraordinary results through passionate execution of big ideas, close client partnerships, and exceptional service.
NRPR Group, and yourself, have been awarded with many prestigious titles. Please tell us about these Awards and what they mean to you.
NRPR Group was named New Agency of the Year in Bulldog Reporter’s 2015 Stars of PR competition, and Small Agency of the Year in Bulldog Reporter’s 2016 Stars of PR competition. The agency was also named one of Los Angeles Business Journal’s Top 50 PR Agencies two years in a row (2016 and 2017), and has taken home back-to-back Beverly Hills Small Business Excellence Awards (2016 and 2017).
Our educational video series, PRactical Guide to Publicity, won a Gold Hermes Creative Award and Silver in the 2016 Stevie Awards for Women in Business for Best Video Series.
As for myself, just this year I was named one of PR News’ Top 50 Game Changers in Public Relations, won Gold in Bulldog Reporter’s Stars of PR Awards competition for Public or Media Relations Professional of the Year, as well as a Stevie Award for Women in Business for Woman of the Year in Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations. I was also named one of the Top CEOs in Los Angeles by Owler, and was the highest ranking female CEO on the list.
Beyond awards, I’m very honored and thankful to serve on a number of boards and councils. I’m a member of the Forbes Agency Council, an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. I’m also one of eight hand-selected board members for The Organization of American Women in Public Relations (Women in PR USA), and am also a board member for Fremont College and Dock.
These awards, honors, accolades and titles mean so much to me and my amazing team at NRPR Group. To be recognized for our hard work and dedication to truly innovating the public relations industry is a great reminder that we’re all doing the right thing and really making an impact for ourselves and our clients. They are all such great honors and I am truly humble to have received them all, but when it comes down to it, I really believe this all stems from my passion and love for what I do. This is what I was born to do, and I started NRPR Group with a goal of changing the fundamental practice for the better. I know deep down I’m accomplishing this day in and day out, and these awards and honors are the cherry on top.
Nicole, please tell us what makes your company stand out from competitors?
I’ve been a public relations and marketing professional for more than 17 years. However, after my 13th year in my career and hearing complaints from media, clients and PR employees, I had my Jerry Maguire moment and set out to change the industry by creating the perfect example of what an agency should look like. An agency that would make everyone — clients, media and employees — happy. This — the reason I started my agency — is one of the biggest things I feel makes NRPR Group stand out from competitors.
I’m a big believer in quality over quantity and my team is focused on creating relationships, building friendships, and fostering that special human touch for the benefit of our clients AND media. At NRPR Group, we have a “No Blast” policy for pitching: since the day our doors opened, every pitch has been tailored with a personal touch and reviewed by an in-house editor. By taking this extra step, I know we’re showing media that we respect and value their time, and that we genuinely care about working with them on stories that make sense for THEM.
For our clients, I’m a huge advocate of proactive pitching. Our clients will never wait around for an announcement to get coverage. Instead, we find creative opportunities in everything for hits to happen. As a result, in the entire duration of NRPR Group’s history, there has never been a month where a client has not gotten coverage.
Additionally, we’re really focused on giving back as an agency. We truly want this industry to advance in the right direction, and we know we can’t do that alone. For this reason, we launched PRfect Pitch Radio (and recently, PRfect Pitch LIVE) — a radio show (and live show) that I host two or three times a month. In the shows, we interview top members of the media as well as fellow PR agency owners to gather their best practices, tips, insights, pet peeves, and more and share those with aspiring PR pros. In doing so, we hope to help PR employees everywhere step up their game when it comes to pitching responsibly and thinking more creatively for brands.
Tell us how your career began and what are some you have experienced?
Believe it or not, I believe I was meant to be in this career and public relations was tailor made for me. After years and years of running for office and holding leadership positions in junior high and high school, participating and winning marketing competitions as a teenager, I wanted to find a career that involved public perception development, writing, event planning, and more. Thankfully, my college journalism professor saw the same thing and encouraged me to check out Public Relations courses. The minute I did I was hooked. I declared my major right away and almost 20 years after doing so, have never looked back.
My first paid job was entrusted to me by the same woman whose kids I used to babysit over the summers in high school. I had NO CLUE she was in PR until I was in college, and she gave me my first shot! Thank God I was a good teenager. As an adult, I’ll forever be thankful for the trust my first mentor, Christina Dort, had in me. Check the resume and bio. The REST IS HISTORY.
What was your most rewarding professional experience?
There are so many to choose from, but one of my favorites has got to be working at MobiTV and being chosen after they had interviewed nearly 16 other candidates to be their PR Manager.
This was well before “mobile video” or “TV on a cell phone” was a thing. Being one of the world’s first mobile entertainment PR professionals was and still is a huge badge of honor, especially seeing where the mobile video industry is today. It was at MobiTV where I led one of my most memorable campaigns to date (and this is going to date me big time), but MobiTV’s de-positioning campaign for MediaFLO before they launched. MobiTV was in every single one of their stories on launch day because we were five steps ahead of them and working with all the right media we knew they’d be talking to. It was an amazing feeling to see every significant piece have our client in it. Showed me strategy and timing are everything in our business.
I’m very proud to say that now, NRPR Group serves as MobiTV’s agency of record. That’s right! The company I worked for years ago is now one of my clients, and I truly believe it’s because I did really great work and my reputation carried on with me to this day. That team will always have a special place in my heart, and getting to represent them now, with my new team at NRPR, is an incredible accomplishment.
How do you find inspiration?
I have three strong sources of inspiration in my life. The first is my mother: She’s been my cheerleader since I was young and supported me in all things, like running for student body president in high school. She was always there to put me in the right mental state, telling me that I could do or have anything I wanted as long as I was willing to work for it. Boy, was she right. She’s been a business owner since I was little and her feisty, go-getter personality was always something I tried to emulate. My mother was 16 when she had me and went on to have five more children, but never let that stop her from getting a college education. Today, she still owns her own business, and it’s something I can look at and say if she can have it then there are no excuses. If you want something bad enough, you’ll work hard to attain it.
My second source of inspiration is Walt Disney, simply because he started from nothing but had a vision and worked to achieve it. He failed numerous times, but never stopped.
Lastly, Sylvester Stallone got me through a lot of hard times, so he’s definitely been very inspirational in my personal and professional journeys. I remember watching his Rocky movies over and over again to keep myself motivated. As an underdog, I can and did relate to his messages, which keeps me going on days when I think I can’t do it.
What is the most challenging part of your work?
One of the most challenging parts of my work is self-discipline. That goes with any profession though, not just being an entrepreneur. I realize that I am the core of my business. If that core isn’t strong and doesn’t do the necessary things it takes to keep the company running strong, everything else is affected by that. I have clients and employees to answer to everyday. They may not be my “boss” but their happiness certainly dictates my actions and decisions. I care about my team and my clients. Therefore, I remain dedicated to working hard to keep both groups happy.
Another challenging part of my work, particularly being an entrepreneur, is self-doubt. When I started NRPR Group it was just me. There were days I’d show up to the Montage in Beverly Hills, because we didn’t have an office, and I’d think to myself, ‘am I doing the right thing? Am I even good enough to start a company? Will I ever have an office and employees or am I doing this all wrong?’ It’s a terrible feeling but it’s what makes us all human. The main thing is shutting that self-doubt up with action and a lot of hard work. Because of that, I now have an amazing team, multiple offices, great clients, and I continue to turn on the positivity when self-doubt pops back in, so I know I remind myself I have what it takes to keep going.
What do you have your sights set on next?
Growing my brand new non-profit organization, Young Dreamers, and finishing my book on how to prepare for life’s disasters before they happen. I actually have a handful of chapters already written! My background in PR has really helped me learn how to strategically think and plan ahead for things. You realize in life that there are certain things that are going to happen and I believe there are ways to actually plan ahead to get through it. For example, everyone will go through a breakup. So what do you do to prepare for when heartbreak arrives? You prepare by immersing yourself in things that make you feel positive.
A lot of the time when you’re going through a breakup, whether a it’s a personal or professional breakup, there are so many different emotions we will go through. I have tips that I’ve tested and tried over time that really work to keep the bad times from taking over my mood for too long. I am looking forward to sharing those tips with the world.
Were you ever influenced by other entrepreneurs?
Of course. I’m influenced everyday by the entrepreneurs I have the amazing opportunity to work with. I feel their pain and struggles and they give me inspiration and advice on my hard days. I work extremely closely with the CEOs of the companies my firm represents. I consider it a blessing and an opportunity to learn and improve everyday.
How is a day in your life?
Busy. Really no other word for it. I wake up early with a ton on my plate and go to bed late, hopefully, with less. The cycle then continues. However, I can’t complain. Busy is good. If I wasn’t busy, my business wouldn’t be growing and I’d be bored out of my mind.
What makes you smile?
So many things. Life. My family. The handsome man I’ve been lucky enough to have in my life because we both tolerate each other’s busy schedules. Movies. Music. Memories. My daughter, dog, and my amazing team. Life is really good, despite the hurdles I’m faced with.
What scares you?
Not much. I believe everything happens for a reason and every opportunity brings a lesson to be learned. As long as I remain positive, focused, and work hard, everything else seems to just work itself out.
What is your greatest achievement?
Starting NRPR Group has been my greatest achievement in my career. I knew I always wanted to be a business owner, specifically a PR agency owner, but didn’t know how and when it would happen. After 13 years of moving up in ranks in my career, I finally had my “Jerry Maguire” moment and knew I needed to create a PR agency that pushed the industry forward.
Now we’ve been alive and running for more than three years. It feels amazing to have a place where I walk through the door and “my” logo is up on the wall. I have great team members working hard at their desks, faces smiling back at me, and clients that are happy. This was all just a college dream, but the day we opened up the office and put our logo up was the moment when it all felt real.
Through starting my own company, I’ve learned that I truly can accomplish anything I set my mind to. NRPR Group was always destined to happen. I’ve always had the entrepreneur bug and consider myself a born leader, so to finally take that step and JUST DO IT, as Nike would say, I learned that I am capable of reaching my wildest dreams and that I have what it takes to make it happen.
What is your secret talent?
I’m a master at moving other people’s words around, bringing them together in a way that flows better and giving them energy. I’m also great at bringing order to chaos through systems. Kind of a nerdy talent, but it makes me really good at what I do. I guess I also have a secret talent for firing people up and making them believe in themselves – because being a natural cheerleader is a talent!
Which historical figure do you most admire?
Abraham Lincoln. He stood for so much and wasn’t afraid to bring positive change to our nation. He even lost his life for it. He’s a man I deeply admire.
Do you have any hobbies?
Sleep! Honestly in my spare time I like to be alone, reflect, and just do very simple things. When I can, I try to get out to the movies to just zone out and relax. Travel is also a big relaxation activity for me too. Whether I’m traveling a few hours from home or somewhere international, it’s a great way for me to get out of my work routine and recharge. Oh, and I can’t forget golf! It’s one of my favorite weekend activities, and I love that it gets me outdoors and active, and it’s also an amazing networking opportunity. I love working on my golf game and the feeling of accomplishment I get when I see myself getting better.
What are you never without?
Good music. I try to take it with me everywhere and through any device. Music keeps me going when I sometimes don’t want to. It helps me carry my memories and positive thoughts in everything I do. Good music is my lifeline – from morning through night.
Can you share two of your favorite quotes with us?
There’s a quote that really inspired me to go into business for myself: “An entrepreneur is willing to do something, other people want to have things that other people can’t.” I truly believe in that. I took a lot of risks to start my business. As a mom, I put myself out there knowing that if something didn’t happen with this business, it wasn’t just my livelihood at stake, but my daughter’s and any employees that I had as well. It’s a lot of responsibility, so you have to be mentally ready for the journey. I believe that is one of the reasons NRPR Group has been so successful early on because success is the only option for me, and I’m not stopping until my business gets to the level it needs to be.
This next quote, From Rocky Balboa, hits me in my heart every time and speaks to everything I do and am: “It ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!” I am motivated by these words everyday. They remind me not to make excuses. Just keep going!
How do you define success?
Doing what you love everyday, with people you like, and still paying bills and maintaining relationships with loved ones. Simple. Success doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it’s not. Money doesn’t equal success, especially if you’re miserable and lonely. No matter what anyone says, true success in life means you’re living your purpose and getting paid to do other things you enjoy.
What advice would you give to anyone starting a new business?
I firmly believe that hard work is always rewarded. My career, as well as the careers of others, are a testament to that. No one is going to hand you success. In my eyes, success is when you know you have worked very hard for something and then someone or something shows you that hard work has touched someone’s life. So when you wake up in the morning you have to be ready to tackle your daily tasks at the same level of intensity every day. Walk into your job wanting to do your best for yourself AND your company.
Also, know that being a business owner means being responsible for the growth of the company and the growth of your team. If you go into owning a business for selfish reasons (i.e. to make money) you’re going to get a rude awakening. As a business owner, you must realize that there are no guarantees that you will make money, and, in the end, your success or failure falls on your shoulders. You have to be ready, responsible, and always focused.
Also, attitude is everything. That goes for your attitude, the clients or customers you serve, and your employees. Attitude dictates whether or not you’re going to be happy where you are and what you’re doing. If you have people that cannot get past themselves or who are negative all the time, it’ll affect you, your employees, and, most importantly, the work. Having good interpersonal balance is important because as the leader of a company you have to set the example. I know I’ll have days where I’m not at 100%, but I’ve learned how to adjust my attitude even in the most negative settings simply because I know how my attitude can affect others around me. The reality is that you’ll have days where a client or customer is not happy or things will be not go as smoothly as you wanted them to, but if you’re constantly in a negative mindset during those times, it’ll take you nowhere but down.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Growing up in a blue-collar home, my mom was 16 when she had me, and my dad was also young but lived in Hawaii, so I didn’t see him often when I was growing up, there were so many people who never thought I would “make it.” There were a lot of odds stacked against me. I am the oldest of nine children and my parents couldn’t pay for my college education. I worked hard in high school to earn scholarships and worked three jobs during college to pay for my own college education.
I was not going to let anyone or anything stop me from getting ahead in life simply because of my circumstances. What I really want women to take away from this is the fact that you are the only one standing in your own way. No matter what cards you’re dealt in life, take what you have been given and figure out how to make that hand work for you.
Throughout my life I have always remained positive and figured out ways to achieve my goals. I have always understood that no one was going to do the work for me, so when people come to me and say they couldn’t go to college because their parents didn’t have the money, or that they couldn’t do something because of their circumstances, I call B.S. If you want it bad enough you will find a way. Don’t let anyone tell you that your dreams are invalid, because if I listened to those around me or made up excuses I would not be where I am now.
For more information on Nicole Rodrigues or to contact her NRPR Group, please visit www.nrprgroup.com.