PR ON THE GO April 21, 2023

PRontheGO Expert Interview with Paige Arnof-Fenn

Meet the Founder of Mavens & Moguls

Introducing Paige Arnof-Fenn - an absolute powerhouse in the world of marketing and entrepreneurship! She is the founder of Mavens & Moguls, an exclusive network of highly experienced marketing professionals with expertise in companies of all sizes. Paige's impressive background includes executive positions at Zipcar,, and Launch Media (acquired by Yahoo and became Yahoo Music). She is a fierce advocate for women entrepreneurs in science and technology, serving on several boards of directors. Paige is also an advisor to early-stage companies and non-profit organizations, demonstrating her passion for empowering others. With an undergraduate degree from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School, Paige has achieved remarkable success in her career.

We are beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with Paige about her incredible journey and learn from her invaluable insights into the dynamic world of marketing and entrepreneurship. Get ready to be inspired!

Paige Arnof-Fenn portrait

Paige Arnof-Fenn,
Founder of Mavens & Moguls

"We are storytellers and content creators who help our clients in compelling ways by finding the right words and pictures to create interest for their products and services. Creating content is a great way to build your brand, increase your visibility more broadly, raise your profile and ultimately attract more attention/clients/customers."

Can you share any lessons you've learned along the way as an entrepreneur, and how you've applied them to the growth and success of Mavens & Moguls?

If we learned anything pre and post Covid it is that your online presence is only growing in importance so online marketing is key and doesn’t have to break your budget. You do not exist today if you cannot be found online. Being invisible online is a terrible strategy so making sure your site is keyword rich/mobile friendly/loads quickly/produces meaningful content is the price of entry/great foundation for effective SEO. Social media is critical too. Technology is 24/7 so it is easy to get sucked into it but don’t let it drive you crazy, you do not need to be everywhere, it does not matter which platform you choose just pick one or 2 that are authentic to you. In my experience, influencers and key people need to be on LinkedIn so that they can be found. It adds credibility and transparency when you know the people you are meeting or working with know people in common. LinkedIn has become more than an online resume or rolodex, it is the foundation for building trusted relationships in the digital economy. If your customers don’t use Facebook/Twitter/Instagram to find you then you do not need to make them a priority. For professional service businesses like mine, LinkedIn matters most.

With LinkedIn, you don't have to wait for a networking event to make meaningful business connections. You get one chance to make a great first impression so make sure every section of your LinkedIn profile is complete, with no blank spaces or gaps. Include a professional head shot and powerful headline followed by a summary with highlights of your personal brand, what you do well and how you can benefit potential clients. Keep this section brief and easy to skim for best results. Keywords are a great way to help professionals in your industry find your profile and strategic keywords in your profile give you an advantage in networking too. To present yourself as an expert in your industry post interesting and educational content by sharing a great article you've read recently or if you truly want to make valuable connections and represent yourself as a talented thought leader in your industry, you should be crafting your own articles on LinkedIn.

What role does PR play in a company's marketing strategy, and how do you ensure that your clients receive effective PR coverage?

Content Marketing/Thought Leadership are the new PR and great ways to build your brand, increase your visibility more broadly, raise your profile and attract more clients. Activities like hosting podcasts/webinars, writing articles, building your following on social media all contribute increasing your awareness with potential customers and building your credibility with a larger community. Instead of trying to start your own blog or newsletter, try contributing regularly to existing well trafficked blogs in your industry or newsletters of likeminded organizations reaching the same target audience as you. Public Relations is the most cost efficient way to get your story out, an investment rather than expense. If a story about you in the media leads to new customers/shortens your sales cycle then the cost of hiring a PR firm more than pays for itself pretty quickly. Every time a new article hits/you speak at an event/quoted in the media there is value in that exposure/instant credibility/third party validation which carries a lot more weight than a paid ad. When that exposure gets prospects to reach out/decide quicker/hire you/buy your products it more than pays for itself.

To get the most value for your time and energy the key is to repurpose content by turning a series of articles/blog postings/newsletters into a book/e–books then turning every piece of content/media hit into a tweet and share links to the content on all your social media platforms. Turn articles into infographics and video your talks to share over social media. Once you have a piece you are happy with it makes sense to get as much mileage out of it as possible. Find creative ways to leverage your thought leadership so that your audience finds you easily. Research shows that consumers need to be exposed to things many times before they take note so even though you may think your content is already out there chances are no one is sick of reading it yet trust me.

PR ON THE GO Media Lists: Carefully curated journalist contacts and verified email addresses.

You're an advisor to several early-stage private companies and non-profit organizations. How do you assess the potential for success in these ventures and what are some of the key indicators that you look for?

I get lot of business plans and introductions and for me it comes down to a few key criteria:

• Do I understand the mission, vision, business model? Does it make sense? Is it sustainable?
• Are the core values consistent with mine?
• Is the team strong? Are they open to advice/feedback?
• Can I add value?

When I find great ideas and people that resonate that creates a foundation for a successful relationship in my experience.

Can you speak to the importance of building a strong personal brand as an entrepreneur, and how have you built your own personal brand over the years?

I believe personal branding is very important because if you do not brand yourself then others will brand you instead. Having a brand is what helps you stand out from all the noise and competition. The single most important ingredient to creating a great brand is authenticity. It has to be and feel real for it to work I think. Don’t let social media drive you crazy, you do not need to be everywhere, it does not matter which platform you choose just pick one or 2 that are authentic to you. It should look and sound like you and the brand you have built. Whether yours is polished or more informal, chatty or academic, humorous or snarky, it is a way for your personality to come through so that for the ones who would be a great fit for you they feel and keep a connection and you give them a reason to remember you so that they think of you first when they need your help. If your brand is not memorable you do not stand out. Here are a few tips on how to build a strong brand:

Be original. What makes you unique or special? Is it your voice? Height? Eye color? Athletic ability? Fluency in foreign languages? An invention or patent? Whatever it is, use it to your advantage. Can you imagine Barbara Streisand with a different nose, Jay Leno with a new chin or Cindy Crawford without her mole? Everyone remembers the original, but the copycats start blending together after a while, so differentiate yourself to stand out from the pack. Be remarkable and extraordinary to grab attention and get noticed. Good is not good enough--where are you great? When you exploit what makes you unique, people will remember your authentic brand.

Be creative. How do you want people to think, feel, act or react after interacting with you vs. your competition? What are four words that come to mind when people describe you? Is that how you want to be described? As George Washington Carver once said, "When you can do the common things of life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world."

Be honest. Turns out that telling the truth about what you are and are not, what you can and can't do is very refreshing. Who would have thought that in 2020, brutal honesty would be the killer application? Because there are so many candidates out there, recruiters and hoping managers tend to choose the people they trust most. Let your brand be known for speaking the truth, and you become the trusted advocate and go-to source. People don't always want to hear the truth, but they'll respect you for telling it, and when they're ready to listen, they'll remember you for it.

Be relevant. Brands aren't created in a vacuum. They require lots of attention, care and feeding. The process of creating a brand for yourself isn't unlike what you'd do for a company--developing a mission, vision, unique positioning and so on. You must define your brand, communicate it and review it periodically so your brand stays current. Look at Madonna, circa 1985 (leather outfits, bleached hair, wild child) and today (yoga, family, spiritual). The branding basics still apply when the brand is you--having a core message, a brand promise, visual and verbal identification and fully integrating all components. You'll need brand positioning, brand architecture and a brand strategy to develop a promise that resonates clearly with your customers.

Be consistent. Develop a cohesive message, and make sure it ties to your blog, website, resume and LinkedIn profile too. The repetition reinforces your key points so people will remember them. It takes time to build great brands--no one wins Olympic gold medals, Grammy awards, Oscars or anything of importance overnight. These things require an investment of your time and energy. Every experience with you is an opportunity to build trust in your brand.

Be passionate. If you remember nothing else, remember this suggestion--it makes up for any shortfalls above. Everyone loves to work with people who are passionate about what they do; it makes life much more fun and interesting. So build your brand around what you enjoy and remember the words of John Ruskin: "When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.”

I have built my brand through Thought Leadership activities like writing articles, hosting webinars, podcasts, guest blogging and building my following on social media which all contribute to increasing my awareness with potential customers/clients, building my credibility with a larger community more broadly, and raising my profile which allows me to raise my prices by attracting more clients/customers. Without a brand you are a commodity and therefore compete on price.

As someone who has worked with both large enterprises and early-stage start-ups, what would you say are the main differences in the marketing needs, and how do you tailor your strategies accordingly?

On one level the marketing basics still apply whether you are a big or small brand, before you spend anything you need to conduct market research! When real customers are willing to pay real money for your product or service, you have a real business. Start with the fundamentals: Who are you and why should anyone care? If you're not passionate about what you're doing, then why should anyone else be? There's a lot of noise in every category, so if you don't have a unique story to tell and a new approach or idea that excites you, then go no further. Every great business is built on a great story so start telling yours to potential customers and see if they buy what you're selling.

The smaller the budget the more important it is to do PR because advertising is about reach, frequency and volume so if you cannot advertise a lot you will not get noticed or remembered at all so it can be a waste of money. With PR if you get included for instance as one of Oprah’s “favorite things“ (as many of my clients have) that single mention can literally put your brand on the radar and sell out your entire inventory in hours or days. PR is called “earned media” because the brand gains exposure by sharing information with the media via a press release or direct pitch and cannot control how or whether the information is used. Anyone can pay for it so earning it is best! I started my career at places like Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola where we had millions of dollars in the budget so there is room for both advertising and PR in addition things like sponsoring the Olympics or Super Bowl. My clients spend the majority of their budget on PR to get the most bang for their buck. If they advertise at all it is highly targeted to a specific audience.

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs and small business owners who are looking to expand their PR and marketing efforts?

The key is to have a growth mindset to be successful because you’ll never stop learning and experimenting by staying focused on the future and seeing opportunities ahead by creating a culture of learning and growth. It takes effort and a commitment to excellence for people to continually learn/grow especially now in a virtual/remote environment. I do not think there is one silver bullet to keep your skills sharp and fresh, I recommend using a combination of reading and learning online and off, attending conferences and talks, networking, newsletters from influencers, TED talks, podcasts, finding mentors and listening to all feedback good and bad. To stay relevant and keep growing I try to prioritize professional development to keep skills fresh and stay on top of new trends and technologies.

So much of success in marketing is about effective communications online and offline and being a student for life. In my experience the best marketers like asking a lot of questions and are naturally curious, they listen for ways to help and share ideas. There is no one personality type to be successful so you have to walk the streets and notice the surroundings. Do you know which movies won at the box office? Books on the NYT best seller list? Top Billboard and Grammy songs? Oscar winners? Why was Game of Thrones popular? Even if it is not your taste you need to know about these things and have an opinion. A career in marketing and communications is about relevancy so every day you have to pay attention to pop culture, trends, etc. You have to keep your antenna up! You have to be driven, focused, intensely curious and always be looking for the next way to make something better, be a good listener to clients, colleagues, feedback, the market to show respect for great ideas, and be a great communicator. With these traits and a strong work ethic you will be great in marketing and PR.

Thank you!

Connect with Paige Arnof-Fenn on LinkedIn


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