Michelle Mekky is a veteran, award-winning broadcast journalist and public relations executive who has led high-profile marketing and PR campaigns for some of the nation’s most innovative brands, businesses, entrepreneurs and nonprofits. She is founder and president of Mekky Media Relations, Inc., a boutique PR agency that strategically partners with many leaders in their industries, helping them tell their stories to new audiences to fuel their growth. Mekky Media has been widely recognized for its tremendous expansion and success in its first six years.
1. What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
I had worked as a broadcast journalist and PR executive for twenty years when I decided to create Mekky Media. As a broadcast journalist, I was constantly working with publicists. When I “crossed the aisle,” so to speak, to work in public relations, I got an inside look into the business and client management side of things, and also saw where the field and company culture was falling short. Combining these expertises together, I realized that I could build a new type of agency that paired public relations strategy with a keen media eye mixed with a people first culture – and thus, Mekky Media was born.
2. Tell us about your business.
Mekky Media Relations is a boutique PR agency that pairs powerful storytelling with personalized attention to elevate the platforms and brands of our clients. As a boutique agency, we do it all – we currently offer PR strategy, media relations, media training, event promotion, content production and influencer management as our core services. Our clients range from leading nonprofits and celebrated brands to budding thought leaders and entrepreneurial start-ups. With such a diverse roster, we don’t operate from a “one size fits all” model – instead, our team ideates and hones in on tailored strategies to best meet and surpass each individual client’s goals.
3. Where is your business based?
Mekky Media is officially based in Chicago, although our clients – and now our team – are based throughout the US and beyond. That being said, while our clients’ locations and verticals have expanded, our ties to Chicago continue. We have deep relationships with the local media here, as well as close connections with a number of prominent business and community leaders. It’s our home, and always will be!
4. What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
The most important step I took was also the scariest – getting started. Mekky Media started from my dining room table with one client who bartered services with me, and it took a lot of confidence and strength to decide to officially set out on my own. I was still recovering from cancer and a job loss and was pretty shattered. One particular mentor gave me a $10,000 check as a loan and told me to just do it and in that moment I knew I had no choice. From there, building relationships, networking, committing to hard work and taking advantage of opportunities that came my way were all essential steps to growing Mekky Media into what it is today. It’s crazy how many doors have opened because of a chance encounter years ago; you never know where new relationships might lead you in the future.
5. What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
We’ve invested heavily in growing our online presence through online web and search optimization as well as social media. Content is king in this day and age, so we consistently post informative and compelling updates about what we’ve been up to recently to keep our company front of mind.
6. What have been your biggest challenges so far?
The media landscape is constantly evolving, and newsrooms are continuing to downsize or, at times, completely shut down. As such, journalists are bouncing around different outlets, editors are overloaded and understaffed, and the industry as a whole is harder to pitch and connect with.
7. How did you overcome these challenges?
This challenge is why deep media relationships are so essential to our work and success. Over the years, we’ve developed a unique level of trust with reporters, editors and producers that allows us to support them through their reporting. We have to think not only as a PR strategist, but also as a journalist, and really tell a newsworthy story from the beginning to the end. By working alongside journalists as resources and collaborators, we’ve been able to maintain and build positive relationships throughout the field so we can continue to achieve meaningful coverage for our clients.
8. What is the best advice you have received recently?
I admittedly am a workaholic, but I am trying to prioritize myself and my mental health these days. This is advice that came straight from my mentor and oncologist who remind me constantly to put myself first. I know that if I am not in good shape, nothing will succeed around me. I am the center of it all and I am learning to not have guilt when I prioritize self-care.
9. What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
First off – believe in yourself. We are so powerful but our minds sometimes are what holds us back. Train yourself to ignore those who doubt you, and push forward. You can do anything. Specifically, you need a good accountant, lawyer and business advisor. With these three pillars you have a foundation to build upon. There was so much I did not know and I am still learning. Be ready to work your tail off but the rewards are far greater than anything.
10. What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
As we grow our talented workforce, we’re working hard to strengthen our diversity, inclusion and belonging initiatives. Authenticity is one of our core values, and we recognize that, to truly create a culture of authenticity and understanding with our team and our clients, it’s essential that we continue to explore ways to develop spaces that reflect the diverse community around us.
11. What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
My goal is to continue to provide excellent service to our clients and position our agency for growth and even higher-tiered client budgets. At the same time, I put a great focus on a healthy work culture and protecting our wellness. It is a delicate balance but with planning, constantly refining processes and a strong leadership team around me we are achieving our goals.
12. What is your favorite business tool or resource?
We use a number of resources to connect directly with journalists and learn what stories they’re currently reporting. From large-scale databases where journalists can request statements from experts in different industries, to newsletters from different freelancers sharing their upcoming focuses, these are great opportunities for us to connect with different members of the media in the changing landscape.
13. What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
You can follow our company at:
- Instagram: @mekkymedia
- Linkedin: @mekky-media-relations-inc.
- Twitter: @mekkymedia
- Facebook: @mekkymedia
Or you can follow me directly at:
You can also subscribe to our newsletter at @mekkymedia
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