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The Cool Place to Meet Other Publicists: Meet Lisa Smith, Founder of The PR Net

Lisa is the ultimate PR chic. Not only is she always fabulously dressed but she also rocks a sexy New Zealander accent. When Lisa arrived in NYC she noticed that the PR world lacked a place to connect and learn from one another, so she created one. Enter, The PR Net. The PR Net is a collective of PR and Marketing professionals that meets monthly across NYC, LA and SF at the coolest new restaurants, bars, and hotels to get to know one another. Read on to learn more about Lisa Smith and her awesome network.

  • As the founder of the PR Net, what was lacking in major cities that you hoped to fill? 

At the time I had the idea for PR Net (in late 2012) there lacked a compelling and modern format for marketing, events, comm’s and media pro’s (who are part of an interdependent professional eco-system) to get together, make new contacts and share partnership opps. The PR industry, in particular, was transforming from a more competitive model of media relations, to focus more on partnerships and collaborations, so our model was in harmony with those macro trends.

I also felt that trade media wasn’t speaking to younger lifestyle PR pro’s and that there was room for a resource that covered industry events, trends, profiles and news in a format that looked and felt more like a blog or online magazine they would read.

  • Your events are always at the most stylish locations. How do you come up with new locations every month? 

We are lucky to tap into our network’s amazing clients and companies and are often recommended or pitched venues. We also editorially cover new venue openings, so that helps keep us in the know about new places opening.

  • Having met PR experts across the country and world, how do you notice PR differing city by city, if at all? 

Speaking to our members who live in various cities around the US, Canada and the UK, I’ve noticed that we have much more in common than our differences. There’s certainly a common thread of the challenges and highlights of this type of career.

There are some unique traits in every market, for example, historically LA might have been more celebrity /entertainment industry driven and San Francisco more tech-focused, but now that industries are more spread out and people more mobile, it’s starting to even that out a bit. There are small nuances to our hosting events in different cities, for example in LA we have to ask about valet parking, which you never think about in NYC and weather considerations are also different. In NYC, we’ve had guests come to events in torrential rain or snow, but in LA we joke that if it drops below 60deg no-one will want to come out!

  • In addition to running The PR Net you’re the mom to 2 kids under four, do you have any tips on time management? 

My biggest tip would be to tackle the most important or disliked tasks first thing and to establish the key ‘to-do’s for the day and week and ensure you give those priority.

Getting up super early also helps. I’m up at 5.30am every day (for better or worse) so in between wrangling the kids with my husband before we leave for the day, I am usually able to get an early head-start on emails.

It’s true that working parents are super productive because they know they have limited hours to get their work done. I usually have a hard stop at 5.45pm (to be home in time for the nanny to leave), so my working hours have that driving force to be effective.

  • What’s the best thing about having kids in NYC and what are your biggest challenges? 

New York City is full of enriching experiences for kids. They can do art mornings at the Whitney Museum, or dance classes at Alvin Ailey, for example. There’s so much to explore in your own city! There are tons of great parks in our neighborhood and almost everything we need can be accessed by walking a few blocks. You’re surrounded by people so you don’t feel isolated and I love the diversity of ethnicities, backgrounds and family styles that my kids are exposed to.

Space is definitely the biggest challenge, along with the inclement weather that pervades a lot of the time.

  • What piece of advice do you have for someone thinking of having kids and running your own business? 

Well, I wouldn’t caution them against it, that’s for sure. It can provide the flexibility parents need, that often full-time jobs don’t give. I’d recommend, however, looking at how starting a company would impact your family financially, as it can take a while to get a livable salary from your business and you wouldn’t want to have that stress in addition to looking after a baby.

Being an entrepreneur can be like raising kids: while it has its challenges, it’s all doable and a risk worth taking.

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