PR Pro of the Year: NRPR’s Rodrigues strives for perfectionBy Bulldog Reporter on January 24th, 2018 | Reading time: 6 minutes
NRPR Group CEO and founder Nicole Rodrigues got into PR because she’s a passionate storyteller who saw that the industry was evolving—and that people needed to evolve with it.
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You’ll constantly find her teaching, mentoring and coaching her team, other entrepreneurs, and clients on how they can make intelligent, informed PR decisions that will positively impact their goals.
Fellow marketing and PR executives, as well as her clients and past colleagues, know that Nicole makes herself available to guide them on how to make the right PR decisions for them, and not what will benefit her or her business the most.
Nicole had her “Jerry Maguire” moment and set out to change the industry by creating the perfect example of what an agency should look like, from a media and client perspective. Her ultimate goal was to do the impossible: Create an agency that would make everyone—clients, media and employees—happy.
Read on to see why Nicole was honored with the “Public or Media Relations Professional of the Year” Gold Award in Bulldog Reporter’s 2017 Stars of PR Awards.
Professional leadership and contribution
In 2017, Nicole launched the NRPR CSR Program: Make It Happen, to teach kids about setting goals, the importance of building and maintaining positive personal brands, and persevering through life’s ups and downs. She’s also teaching them what happens in marketing and how brands attract them, so they don’t take the art of advertising, marketing, and PR for granted. She hopes to inspire young people to appreciate themselves, their brands, and work that goes on behind the scenes.
Nicole was named the #16 CEO in all of Los Angeles by Owler, one of PR News’ Top 50 Game Changers in Public Relations, is a regular contributor to Forbes, and is on the Advisory Board for the Association of American Women in Public Relations.
Her firm’s biggest challenge over the year? “Fast growth! Our company experienced a handful of big new business waves,” Rodrigues says. “With that popularity comes more new hires to manage the new business. Training new team members always takes time because we believe in efficiency and doing things the right way. Putting great systems in place so people can be on-boarded quickly and efficiently was something we did to help position us for long-term success.”
Breakthrough communications approaches
Nicole believes in quality over quantity, and is focused on creating relationships, building friendships, and fostering that human touch for the benefit of clients and media. For this reason, she’s instituted a “No Blast” Oath for pitching.
Since the day NRPR Group launched, every pitch has been tailored with a personal touch and reviewed by an in-house editor. By taking this extra step, Nicole shows media their time is respected and the firm genuinely cares about working with them on stories that make sense.
Without media, she believes PR people wouldn’t have jobs. She believes in treating them with the utmost respect and taking the time to research before pitching, in order to start a genuine relationship with them. She teaches her entire team to do the same.
She also shares her insights and expertise with the greater PR community. “We continued to build our PRfect Pitch podcast [in 2017],” she offers. “We use it to help spread the word about best practices and influence the PR/media professionals of the future. We even added a ‘PRfect Pitch Live’ show to grow our reach!” Nicole is the host of both shows, which are dedicated to helping PR pros step up their game when it comes to pitching and thinking more creatively for brands.
For clients, Nicole is a huge advocate of proactive pitching. She believes no client should wait for an announcement to get coverage, and finds 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.
Demonstration of integrity
Nicole is upfront about the level of work clients should expect—and she sticks to her word. She does not charge new clients for time spent on-boarding them, because she believes this is work the agency owes them to truly get started on the right foot and understand their brand.
Nicole is transparent about when she feels it’s time for the working relationship to come to an end. If she genuinely does not feel her agency would be able to help a business, she will not continue to take clients’ money without knowing she can deliver the results they want.
Since the day Nicole opened NRPR Group, the agency has never sent a mindless press release blast to media they don’t know. Every time they call, email or engage media it’s one-on-one, thoughtful and strategic for clients.
Nicole ensures that she, as senior council, is always available to clients for regular team check-ins. She doesn’t believe in passing any clients off to less-senior team members (although everyone at NRPR is a PR rock star and trained personally by Nicole). If NRPR Group takes a client on, it’s because Nicole will personally be on the business.
And despite all that over-the-top effort, she makes sure that she and her team take advantage of every opportunity to keep sharpening their skills. “As a team, we took grammar and writing courses to improve our skills [last year], she relates. “Even for the strongest writers on our team, we never want to be lazy because we’re dedicated to the details. We made sure to take this step together to become better in all areas of writing, including creativity, AP style, grammar and punctuation. I made sure to participate as well, as the CEO and as someone who has been writing for years, to set a good example for my team—especially the junior people—to show them learning continues throughout your career.”
NRPR Group has grown tremendously under Nicole’s guidance and leadership, setting a prime example of what PR agencies of the future should look like. The company was named “Small Agency of the Year” in Bulldog Reporter’s December 2016 Stars of PR Awards, and ranked the #49 PR agency in Los Angeles by the Los Angeles Business Journal in April 2017.
Her biggest client achievement this past year has been with Heal, an app that provides on-demand doctor house calls. Heal had been around for almost two years before Team NRPR began working with the company. Through strategic planning, thoughtful announcement creation, proactive pitching, social media work, identification of key consumer dates and holidays to build around, a heavy push on securing speaking opportunities and award wins, and utilizing Heal’s celebrity advocates, Nicole and Team NRPR took Heal from a small tech start up to a massive player in the healthcare industry that’s consistently featured in Tier 1 outlets in print, online, and on-air.
Within the first eight months of working with Heal, NRPR Group secured more than 130 original media hits for the company, landed multiple speaking opportunities for Heal’s co-founders, and submitted Heal for myriad awards, many of which they have won and/or become finalists for. This is more secured press than both of Heal’s previous agencies of records combined, in less than half the time!
These accomplishment, honors, and accolades prove that Nicole is respected by her peers and a true leader in the industry who gives her all each and every day to ensure we’re continually getting better together. Congratulations, Nicole!