Female Entrepreneur in Red, Despite Tough Economy

By Paula Santonocito

am-nieves-photoRunning a small business is never easy, but in this economy it can be especially challenging. Still, even in this environment, it’s possible to not only survive but thrive.

As one single-minded woman entrepreneur explains, it takes courage, determination, understanding your strengths, knowing your objective, and finding a niche.

Here, in her own words, is how Ann-Marie Nieves, owner of public relations firm Get Red PR, launched and continues to grow her business.

In the middle of the worst financial crisis this country has seen since the Great Depression, I’m continuously adapting my business and personal practices to fit the needs of the merciless economy. When I started Ann-Marie Nieves Communications in August 2005, I was still pinching my pennies, but life was a bit easier and cheaper in the rural confines of Ithaca, NY. In order to tell the story of my young business, which is now known as Get Red PR, I have to explain the back story.

My boyfriend of several years was pulled from the wait list and accepted into The Johnson School at Cornell University. This meant that his acceptance came at the very last minute – just a few days before school would begin. We were set to sign a lease on an apartment together in Astoria, NY. It was the height of the subprime market and he was working at the financial institution that didn’t get the bailout. I was going through the motions in my position at a mid-sized public relations agency.

When he got the news, he asked me to move with him to Ithaca. My heart skipped a few beats and my first thought was that he had lost his mind. Three weeks later I would arrive in Ithaca on a wing and a prayer. Following the boy was not exactly the feminist ideal, but I had other reasons. I needed many things including a change of scenery, a newfound passion, that swift kick in the fanny that propels you into a new direction. Hell, I needed to be scared again.

I had fantasized for a few years about stepping out on my own. Although I have worked with some truly incredible PR pros at agencies that I will forever be indebted to, I wanted to be a part of an account from the very beginning – from the new business pitch, to the proposal writing and the day to day management.

Even though public relations is my bread and butter, I started out in the industry working for a strategic marketing communications agency and could easily adapt, juggling marketing and advertising campaigns. Furthermore, as an early member of Friendster, I knew social networking sites would eventually be of tremendous value to the marketing mix, and I wanted to position myself to take advantage.

I also had dreams of working with small businesses, start-ups, teeny nonprofits, consumer products, and celebs. There were so many people, products and services out there that needed affordable PR. I accepted the fact that my interests were all over the place; I could make it work. That’s the exciting part about public relations – sinking your teeth into a new industry and then owning it.

In the three weeks before my fateful move, I resigned from my job, ordered business cards, called everyone I ever knew, and answered a dozen freelance ads on Craigslist. I also fully scoped the job market in Ithaca, and the prospects were dismal. I won’t lie and say that I was all about my conviction at the time. I felt the nauseating flutter of anxiety.

But, it somehow all worked out. I had a great freelance career while I was in Ithaca. Sure, money was tight at times and working from home could be lonely. In the three and a half years I’ve run my own shop, I’ve also dealt with the unexpected loss of my mother and yet another move back to Metro New York.

Today, I’m less freelance and more Get Red PR, an agency that works with start-ups, small to mid-sized businesses, nonprofits, authors and public figures in a variety of industries. My client roster is just what I had hoped-eclectic and highly fulfilling.

My day runs the gamut from writing bylines for The Concorde Group, a 25-year-old staffing agency in Westchester County, NY, to planning a series of free mental health webinars to promote the book Defenders of the Heart: Managing the Habits and Attitudes That Block You from a Richer, More Satisfying Life by Marilyn Kagan, LCSW, and Neil Einbund, Ph.D.

I’m promoting supermodel and African-American icon, Beverly Johnson, as she celebrates 35 years since her groundbreaking cover of Vogue magazine, and I recently helped launch a new free singing program for men by internationally ranked chorus, the Westchester Chordsmen.

I’m planning for the debut of socialite Nikki Haskell’s energy drink while helping to push the Star Cruncher exercise belt. (Full disclosure: Nikki’s Celebrity Scene blog can be found on SingleMindedWomen.com.) I mustn’t forget hitting up the beauty blogs about ReVersital, a truly addictive at-home microdermabrasion stick for the face and body. Last but not certainly not least, I’m building the reputation for the only online destination for educated, professional and powerhouse single girls – SingleMindedWomen.com.

Ann-Marie Nieves is the owner of Get Red PR. For more information, contact 914-461-4360 or am@getredpr.com.


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