Marielle Legair is the founder of Women Who Influence, an online community for female entrepreneurs who wish to become better known in their industry and get their business featured in the media.
She has worked in Public Relations for more than a decade, leading global campaigns for blue-chip companies like Deloitte, Experian and Golin. Her achievements today are remarkable considering she gave up her life in Britain in 2012 to move to New York. We quiz her on how she did it.
I was in need of a change. I moved from London to New York literally days after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. I’ve since left the corporate world to start a personal brand and PR consulting business working solely with female entrepreneurs. I love what I do and have strong relationships with UK and US journalists which comes in handy when working internationally.
Why New York?
I came to New York on holiday back in autumn 2011 and fell in love with the energy and pace of the city. I decided after that trip that I wanted to relocate, so made it happen a few months later. Moving to New York has definitely been character-building – it’s a tough city to live. But I’m no longer afraid to give the big things that scare me a shot. What’s the worst that can happen?
What circumstances led to you knowing that you are an entrepreneur at heart?
After more than a decade working various 9 to 5 jobs; I found myself thinking more and more about my purpose. My reason for doing what I do is to have more ownership of my time while serving amazing women around the world. That said, I’m grateful I started out in the corporate world. Friends call me a ‘classically trained publicist’ because I started out as a PR graduate and earned my stripes at some of the most reputable firms in the industry. While in my corporate jobs, I took full advantage of every training program available to build the softer skills I knew I’d need as an entrepreneur like public speaking and business writing before making the leap. Entrepreneurship is often glamourised, but it’s a lot of work! You have to love it, because they’ll be a lot of testing times but the reward is worth it.
How important is PR and personal branding to a business?
PR and personal branding is hugely important to any business. Increased visibility can significantly transform a business. For example, one of my clients started a Kickstarter fund to raise $30k to help market her film across Africa. I created a PR campaign to promote the project and secured an interview for my client on BBC World. The global exposure from the BBC interview, helped my client surpass her $30k target in record time. PR and personal branding not only take you to a wider audience, it also helps you to become better known for your expertise and builds credibility and authority.
What does it mean to be a woman of influence?
Women who influence stand in their power. They recognise that they have a compelling message to share with the world and although they may be afraid, they take action and never let fear stand in the way. The idea for my Women Who Influence platform came after meeting so many incredible female entrepreneurs with amazing stories to tell – but for whatever reason they didn’t feel comfortable being visible. I work with my clients to help change this.
What’s your business about?
I specialize in helping female entrepreneurs increase their visibility in their industry through personal branding and media exposure. I offer a coaching and a ‘done-for-you’ service dependent on client need. As a publicist, getting my clients featured in the media plays a big part in what I do. But before even thinking about pitching, I work with them closely to really understand who they are and what their potential news hooks could be. This is often the most challenging because women all too often downplay their achievements. I want to encourage any woman reading this to be more vocal about their accomplishments, men sure are!
What three things can startups do to gain visibility?
- Use video – I’ve found it’s the fastest and easiest way to engage with your audience. A lot of people are afraid of being on camera, but it’s important to remember that people care about your message, not so much about you!
- Create a unique brand identity – When I first started out online I had a web designer create a very basic website without paying much attention to the visual identity. I’ve since invested in a proper brand identity and it makes all the difference. Standing out and being easily recognizable is crucial in a noisy environment.
- Get publicity – It could be something small like writing a guest post in a publication that is widely read by your ideal client or becoming a contributor for an online publication.
Who do you admire – career-wise?
Lisa Nichols (motivational speaker and author who appeared on The Secret) is someone I really admire. Her story of being on welfare unable to provide for herself and her son, to using daily affirmations to turn her life around and become one of the wealthiest women in America is beyond inspiring. I spoke with Lisa at length at a conference recently and one of the things she said that stuck is that ‘action is the antidote to despair.’ So, whenever I’m not sure what to do, I try to take just one small step and build momentum from there.
What do you do to relax?
I try to start each day with meditation, journaling and exercise – in that order. My day feels a little off center if I don’t do those things. I also love hanging with friends, catching up over good food.
Visit: www.womenwhoinfluence.club to download the fives secrets to becoming better known in your industry or follow on Instagram for tips: @womenwhoinfluence