Erika Taylor Montgomery, CEO and Founder Of ThreeGirlsMedia & Marketing
Erika Taylor Montgomery’s BIO
IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW
1. What prompted you to start your Business?
Erika: I was tired of seeing how PR agencies took advantage of clients with fat monthly retainers, which almost always ended up benefitting the agency, not the client. I also realized that most PR agencies were set up to work with medium to large corporate clients, leaving a huge hole for the 80% of American companies that are small or micro businesses. I thought I could create a better PR model to serve those smaller clients, working on an hourly or project basis, and guaranteeing PR results for their hard-earned money.
Scenario: you meet a business exec who is looking to fund a business that already has had enormous positive implications for the community. He wishes to offer $25,000 to a business that is innovative in its thinking. He has 10 minutes available to speak with you. What do you share with him about your work?
Three Girls Media & Marketing Inc is an award-winning, boutique PR agency specializing in both traditional and social media. We serve small business – often the companies that need PR the most, but can least afford it. That’s 80% of businesses in the U.S., so there’s a tremendous market there for PR services.
Three Girls’ model is unique. Unlike most PR agencies that work on monthly retainers, we work on an hourly or project basis for our clients, providing them expert PR services for a reasonable cost. In the height of the recession we were flexible and developed a new Al la Carte PR Menu allowing clients to order individual PR services such as press releases or media advisories, Facebook & Twitter management and blog writing on a per-service basis. Our Al la Carte Menu continues to be extremely popular and sets us apart from the way other agencies work.
Three Girls is the only PR agency in the nation to literally guarantee editorial media coverage to our clients – in writing. We’ve exceeded our guarantees 100% of the time, and on average, 40-50% of the media coverage we secure is in Top or Mega-tier outlets with audiences of 250,000 to 1 million, respectively.
We have an amazing track record of success and fill a critical need for small businesses nationwide, making Three Girls Media and excellent investment.
2. For most successful entrepreneurs, there is no typical day so give us a sample of your schedule from start to finish.
- 7-7:30am – Wake-up
- Hit the treadmill for 45 minutes
- Check Email
- 9-9:30am – Daily phone meeting with Sr. Director of Publicity
- Calls and emails with clients and prospects
- Noon – Networking luncheon or lunch meeting with prospective clients or business power partner
- Back to the computer for client work in the afternoon
- Calls and emails with clients and prospects
- 6-6:30pm – End of workday – Family time
3. What are your “can’t live without” apps on your desktop/cell phone?
Erika: Bay Area News (The San Jose Mercury news app)
4. What are your tricks for time management?
Erika: You must put things on a calendar and stick to the scheduled time. If you schedule a consultation and it’s supposed to be 30 minutes, keep it to 30 minutes! Let people know how much time you have to speak at the beginning of a call and don’t be afraid to end the conversation when time is up.
5. Best advice received when you started your business?
Erika: Get it in writing…a solid contract is worth 10,000 words.
6. Given the current economic climate, how has your strategy for your company changed for the short-term and long-term?
Erika: In the height of the recession Three Girls was flexible and developed a new Al la Carte PR Menu allowing clients to order individual PR services such as press releases or media advisories, Facebook & Twitter management and blog writing on a per-service basis.
Our Al la Carte Menu was originally designed to be a short-term solution for the economic climate, however it continues to be extremely popular today and at least 80% of our business is now based on the menu, making it a long-term win. It also sets us apart from the way other agencies work.
7. What’s been your proudest achievement as an entrepreneur?
Erika: I’ve had several proud achievements. Three Girls and I have won many awards, including the prestigious YWCA TWIN awards for women in business which will be given out in May.
I’m always extremely proud when we secure nice media placements for our clients. It’s like getting the excitement of Christmas several times a month!
I’m also proud of staff achievements, such as my mentorship of our now Sr. Director or Publicity, Emily Sidley. Emily started with Three Girls almost 5 years ago as an intern. I’ve worked closely with her to build her skills and confidence and have promoted her through the ranks over the years. She’s now and invaluable part of our team.
8. What are some of the ways that you achieve balance in your life?
Erika: When I started Three Girls, I worked 16-18 hours a day, 7 days a week. As the company matured, I realized that if I didn’t achieve some form of work-life balance I’d go crazy, or drop dead of a stress induced heart attack, so I made some big changes.
I always take at least 1 weekend day completely off – no computers, no email, no cell phone, no texting, no work of any kind!
I also stop working around 6-6:30 each night so I can have dinner and quality time with my family.
9. Your top 3 book recommendations for our readers (and why?)
Erika: I’m actually writing two books right now. The first which I’m co-authoring with best selling author Anolia Facun (Yes! The Secrets Work and Game Changers), is called Silicon Valley Life – Journeys & Transformations Beyond Technology and is due out July 1st. It’s a compilation of stories from newsmakers and entrepreneurs who share their thoughts about the ‘spirit’ of Silicon Valley – what makes this area unique.
The second book I’m writing is called Easy Do-It-Yourself PR – A Step-by-Step Guide to Public Relations for Small Business and Entrepreneurs, and is due out this fall. It will be the perfect guide and workbook for entrepreneurs who want to do their own PR and need simple step-by-step instructions to do so, with a lot of examples for them to utilize.
10. If you had an exceptional month and earned double of your average month, what (if anything) would you spend it on?
Erika: Bonuses for employees – they deserve it, no question.
11. What are some of your most rewarding charitable involvements and why?
Erika: Three Girls does quite a bit of pro bono work. We’re currently supporting My Hope Chest, a non-profit organization that provides funding for breast reconstruction surgery after mastectomy to women who have survived breast cancer but are lacking insurance or the financial means to gain their desired reconstruction. It’s a cause that’s especially close to my heart as I’ve lost my grandmother and an aunt to the disease.
12. Who has been the most influential person to you as you’ve advanced in your career?
Erika: My husband who is also Three Girls’ CFO. He’s always been an excellent sounding board and advisor.
13. What’s your advice to someone interested in starting their own business?
Erika: I’d offer 2 bits of advice:
- The advice that was given to me when I started out – get it in writing every time. Have solid contracts that specifically outline your services and what you will – and will not – provide.
- Promote, Promote, Promote! You have no idea how many small business owners/entrepreneurs I talk to who have spent a ton of money on a website and collateral, and then have no money left over to actually promote the business. Make PR a core part of your business plan from the outset.
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