I recently got to chat with Allyson Conklin, the principal and founder of Fort Collins, Colorado-based PR agency, Allyson Conklin PR. I love that Allyson works with an amazing client roster of beauty and lifestyle brands, and I couldn't help but reach out to learn more. If you're looking to jumpstart your PR career with a boutique agency, Allyson's advice below is invaluable. Working Girls, take note! Side note: I get to meet Allyson in Colorado at the end of this month! Needless to say, I'm excited. I love that That Working Girl has sincerely connected PR ladies to each other across the country.
Q: You've enjoyed a robust career in both fashion and PR. Was there a certain moment in your life when everything "clicked" and you knew that PR was the route to take?
A: I’m a big believer in fate and that all roads ultimately lead to where you are meant to be. I’ve been a media junkie since my teenage days reading Sassy and Jane. I studied Apparel and Merchandising in college, but public relations was never on my radar. After college, I found myself learning all about the fashion industry and the editorial side of publishing during my internship at Footwear News. While I loved every minute of it, I came to the realization that I wasn’t cut out to be an editor. So, I jumped the fence to the advertising side at W magazine. I got my feet wet working with beauty, retail and jewelry brands while gaining business skills. While here, it dawned on me that I could marry my experiences with a career in public relations. PR gave me the platform to apply my creative and critical thinking skills while working with both the media and brands.
Q: You moved your career from New York to Utah, and most recently to Colorado. Are there any major differences between working on the East coast and the West when it comes to PR?
A: I think the beauty of PR is that you can do it anywhere! It’s universally fast paced and the principles are identical. East Coast publicists benefit from easier access to face time with editors, but it’s nothing that an easy flight can’t fix for us out West!
Q: When was your "ah-hah!" moment when you knew you wanted to launch your own company, Allyson Conklin Public Relations, and what was the transition of becoming your own boss like?
A: In the early days of ACPR, I playfully referred to myself as a “reluctant entrepreneur.” When I made the decision to return to Fort Collins, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do. There were signs all around, pointing me in the direction of starting my own firm, but I shrugged them off. In retrospect, I blame it on fear and not giving myself enough credit to think that I could actually start a business—and succeed. Fortunately, the signs didn’t stop. They became increasingly more and more persistent, and so loud that I could no longer ignore them. I finally gave in. I threw myself into launching ACPR and haven’t looked back since!
Embracing the notion of becoming my own boss didn’t happen overnight. It was a process! But through that process, I learned so many valuable lessons. I learned to trust my gut. I learned not to rely solely on the validation of others. I learned the importance of separating my business life from my personal life. I learned to appreciate the quiet and to power through the chaos. I learned that at the core of everything we do in life, a relationship is the most important element. I believe that mastering "the boss" was a critical part of my entrepreneurial journey, ultimately readying me for my own staff.
Q: Your client roster is impressive, and even hosts one of our local favorites - Waiting On Martha! What is your favorite aspect of representing beauty, home and lifestyle brands?
A: Plain and simple, I represent what I love!
Q: Many young women dream of launching their own businesses one day. For recent grads, what would your top three tips for successful entrepreneurship in PR be?
A: Be patient and get as much experience as you can before you dive in. There are valuable skills, real world lessons and connections to be made before starting a business. Think of your experiences as stepping stones, each one preparing you for the next, ultimately leading up to your own business. And when you do launch, it’ll be the best—and you’ll be the best—that it can be. Have a plan. And a backup plan. By nature, I’m a planner, which I believe works in my favor as an entrepreneur. While spontaneity and the ability to be flexible are critical, flying by the seat of your pants is not always the best route to take. Be ready to work harder than you’ve ever worked in your life. When you own a business, it’s all you. You’ve gotta hustle on a daily basis to ensure that everything functions as it should. There are inevitably going to be highs and lows, but it’s the best feeling in the world knowing that it’s something that you built.
Q: Think fast - what are your top three go-to activities, places or products that make your busy workweek a bit easier?
A: Exercise is key for me. I’m a Pure Barre devotee and I love to mix in a couple of cardio (running is my go-to) sessions every week. Sweet indulgences like a giant cookie from Mary’s Mountain Cookies in Old Town Fort Collins. I have a major sweet tooth so it’s not uncommon to hear me exclaim, “I’m in the mood for a cookie. Anyone want to join?” in the office. Fortunately, my team loves sugar as much as I do! Ordinary, everyday moments at home with my husband, Michael and two dogkids, McKinley and Whitney. They keep me sane, in the moment and grateful.