Crafting a PR Engine: An Interview with PR Coach Renée Warren

Crafting a PR Engine: An Interview with PR Coach Renée Warren

Welcome to Marketer Interview, the hub of insights and inspiration for marketing enthusiasts.

Today, we’re thrilled to have Renée Warren, CEO and founder of Wild Women Collective, as our guest. Renée is a PR coach extraordinaire. Her expertise lies in helping female founders gain visibility for their businesses.

She’s here to share her journey into marketing and public relations and dive deep into the art of building authority in your industry.


How did you find your path into the marketing world, and what led you to specialize in public relations?

In 2010, I was floating in and out of some startup offices in San Francisco, trying to get a pulse on what was needed in marketing. This was when infographics were blowing up. If you had a nicely designed one, you got all the attention. I was dabbling in social media, figuring out Facebook and Google advertising, and honing in on content marketing.

I was introduced to a woman doing the same thing I was doing, but only in public relations. We started to work on projects together, so much so that one day, we decided to open an agency offering PR, content marketing, and social media services. It grew quickly, and we landed clients from South Africa to San Diego.

Having never pitched the media a day in my life, I let my partner run that side of the business. But after about a year, and seeing the success we were getting for our clients with a PR-first approach, we decided to go all in and created the “PR Engine.” (More about that below)

Please tell us more about your journey as a PR expert and the key milestones that brought you to where you are today.

I came into the PR world with no bad habits because I had no previous PR experience – no work or educational background.

I took the time to study my client’s needs and created a program suited for them (Funded tech startups), as opposed to offering what everyone else was doing; no antiquated methods just because it was how things ‘have always been done’ or rigid structures just because those were best practices. We poked holes in the industry and found ways to support our client’s needs better while also gaining our time back.

In only a few years, from a tiny town on the east coast of Canada, and after my business partner left to start her startup, I grew the business to over 7-figures. In that time, I won awards, published a book on PR, and have spoken on international stages teaching new PR methods.

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Public relations can be a perplexing terrain for many. What inspired you to demystify it and help others navigate the PR landscape?

I’ve always considered PR the mother of all marketing because it’s about building relationships, whether that’s with your audience, prospects, clients, the media, or your network. Business is won on the heels of the relationships we build, and creating a reputable brand image is critical to gaining better-quality customers. It opens more doors faster and enables brilliant conversations.

Many people think they can’t do or afford PR, which is why I do what I do and how I do it. I’ve created programs with a low-cost entry barrier (comparable to the retainer models) because I wanted to see more women shine their bright light.

I designed my Authority Booster Intensive (PR VIP Day) for entrepreneurs who want to gain more authority in their space without signing a long-term retainer. It’s 12 years of industry experience, disseminated into a one-day custom strategy, with detailed implementation steps to get anyone’s VA or marketing person actively pitching the media every week without the overwhelm.

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You emphasize the difference between understanding PR and doing PR. Can you share some essential skills or insights marketers often overlook in their PR efforts?

As part of my guarantee for my VIP Days, I will provide a partial refund to anyone who comes through the program, actively pitches, follows the steps that I outline in detail, and does that consistently for 90 days and doesn’t see specific results.

Why? Because consistency is your currency.

You can have the best pitch and subject and still get no responses or denials. There are so many variables at play that most marketers do not understand, like timing, news cycles, changes in the industry (layoffs galore are still happening), poor follow-up, a boring subject line, no relevant hook, and no attempt at newsjacking… that can hinder the performance of your outreach. That’s why, to succeed with PR, you must constantly scan for opportunities.

In your experience, what are the common challenges that female founders face when gaining visibility for their businesses, and how do you help them overcome these obstacles?

I see it way less today than during my tech PR days. Back then, most women had to prove their product was great and had to prove themselves because they were female.

This is not to say it’s still not happening; it is, but there are more women in tech today.

As for all female entrepreneurs, the most significant challenge I see today is women being too afraid to take the spotlight. We tend to worry more about what people will think about us than men do, which stops us from taking the stage.

More so, the unrealistic expectations of balancing running our business, managing a household, and raising our children pressure us to do what is expected rather than what we want to do.

When a man travels, ever hear someone ask him, “Who’s watching the kids while you’re away?” Nope. But women get it all the time, and those micro-aggressions consciously make us feel incredibly guilty for stepping into the spotlight and following our dreams of growing our businesses and authority.

Building authority in any field is no small feat. Please share some strategies or approaches entrepreneurs can use to establish themselves as industry leaders.

It’s relatively simple (but difficult):

  1. Choose ONE thing to focus on
  2. Craft three compelling frameworks for that one thing and connect a few exciting stories to those frameworks
  3. Do that one thing well, don’t get distracted, and keep the focus
  4. Keep showing up!

There is “no overnight success” and “the last mile is never crowded” because most people aren’t willing to do the work consistently over a long period. Too many crave the quick fix and give up when the perfect results don’t happen immediately ––it’s a shame.

In the realm of PR, storytelling is crucial. Can you highlight some tips on crafting a compelling story that captures media attention?

Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, what you did, but never how you made them feel.”

There is no emotion in Gantt charts and frameworks. People don’t connect to a spreadsheet and won’t remember the details of a boring presentation. But they will remember the stories you share that help emphasize a critical point. And if you can become an expert storyteller, you can charm a room full of tough-minded individuals.

Stories sell.

Here is a basic framework for crafting your story:

  1. Brainstorm five unique experiences that can be connected to something you teach or sell. The more emotional or the funnier, the better. This goes back to your WHY.
  2. Don’t be afraid to share the details.
  3. Tell the story in a way that makes the audience feel like they’re right there with you.
  4. Be relevant.
  5. Parts of your stories can easily be woven into your pitch emails, your website copy, and your on-stage speaking points.
  6. As you accumulate lived experiences, your stories should also. Keep a notes file on your phone to record things as they occur. The quicker you can input the details, the better you’ll remember what happened.
  7. Tie everything that you share to an experience of some sort. This makes the lesson more straightforward to understand and remember.

PR is dynamic and ever-evolving. What trends or shifts have you noticed recently, and how should marketers adapt?

New trends in PR, like in most other marketing areas, are being magnified by the use of AI. But I don’t want to go into detail on how to use AI for PR because I think this section warrants the following message:

Our entire world has shifted dramatically since 2020, and consumers have (finally) been able to peek into the real world of journalism. Seeing how controlling and manipulating many news sources and publications have been has had a detrimental impact on the industry.

Consumers don’t trust the media anymore. Journalistic integrity is gone. Most news doesn’t cover what’s happening–there is an agenda. Many journalists, editors, and writers have been laid off, moved around, and been treated so poorly that the excitement in the industry is dying rapidly.

I have many friends who are journalists and publicists, and my heart aches for them. Our jobs have gotten increasingly more challenging, yet we are expected to get the same results with fewer resources.

All that to say, hands down, the most critical trend or shift I’ve seen this year isn’t a trend at all. It’s a message: nurture your community. Create lasting relationships. Support each other when and where you can. Business is won on the other side of building relationships with a strong foundation. Let THAT be the trend you follow.

Are specific tools or software indispensable in your work as a PR expert and entrepreneur? What would you recommend for our readers?

Here is a list of the tools that we use:

  1. ListenNotes: For podcast sourcing and research
  2. SignalHire: For finding contact information
  3. Asana: For project management
  4. Canva: For design
  5. ChatGPT: For inspiration and research
  6. and Grammarly: For copy editing and inspiration
  7. CoSchedule: For subject line creation

Your “Authority Booster Intensive” program is intriguing. Please walk us through what participants can expect to learn and achieve during this program.

I mentioned this above, but this is a PR VIP Day: Strategy over breakfast, PR ready by dinner.

It’s a world-class PR strategy created for your business by an award-winning publicist with 12+ years of industry experience…and not just an upgraded version of a dull media kit, but a custom plan strategically crafted to capture the attention of journalists and influencers. No fill-in-the-blank, bare-bone type templates. A detailed roadmap to move your brand forward — without the agency price tag.

Here’s precisely what you’ll walk away with:

  • Custom pitch angles for podcasts, print, and TV!
  • A curated list of 100 vetted shows & media
  • Powerful press release
  • Organized Media kit
  • Confidence to pitch at your own pace
  • Custom training videos to show you the way
  • PLUS one month of follow-up support from Renée

As we conclude, please share one piece of advice or a mantra that has guided you throughout your marketing and public relations career.

I must mention Stevie Nicks here as this quote has guided me through many moments:

“If you’re gracious, you’ve already won the game.” – Stevie Nicks

With PR, you will face many rejections and NOs, or nothing at all. It’s the one industry where you can put in so much effort yet see no results. The outcome is at the mercy of too many variables out of our control.

So when I feel deflated or defeated, I turn to that quote from Stevie, and I just keep going. The WINS are always on the other side of consistently putting in the reps.

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