First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Lisette Paras: Thanks for asking. My family and I are doing okay all things considered, although, like many people around the world, we’ve all felt concerned and anxious at various points in seeing the events unfold this year. We’re staying hopeful and optimistic about the world getting better as we move into 2021.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Gravitate PR.
Lisette Paras: I started my public relations career in Australia working at a boutique enterprise technology PR firm, moved into a role at a big global agency where I primarily worked with over a dozen different teams across the Asia Pacific, and then relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area almost a decade ago where I gained a lot of experience working with fast-growing startups at a couple of PR agencies. After taking a number of companies through an M&A or IPO and working in a corporate brand/communications role in-house, I saw the opportunity to start a PR firm. I envisioned a PR agency that would be creative, integrated, and scrappy, with an in-depth understanding of today’s technologies and broad, global marketing/PR skills via a highly diverse team. Today, we’re known for transforming high-growth technology brands into market leaders, having done this successfully for numerous clients over the last 4 years.
How does Gravitate PR innovate?
Lisette Paras: Working with many tech startups, we see firsthand how they push the envelope through their products and services. We also operate like a startup, by giving our team the opportunity to find initiatives that they are passionate about and run with it so that they can thrive. I’ve had many inspiring managers and mentors throughout my career, so I also want to try and pave avenues for people to grow and challenge our firm to constantly find ways of doing things better. We’ve also recently revisited some of our learning & development activities, so we’re looking at ways to invest in our own growth and ways to do things differently.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your business, and how are you coping?
Lisette Paras: As a communications firm, our growth is intertwined with how our clients’ businesses are faring. We did see some clients affected by COVID-19 harder than others – and a lot of the impact was felt at the onset of the pandemic. Fortunately, we’ve weathered this year relatively well. We see the market pick up significantly – we’ve kicked off with a number of new clients or projects in the last couple of months – so I’m feeling optimistic as we get to the end of the year.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Lisette Paras: COVID-19 resulted in a lot of uncertainty, and there’s still a lot of economic volatility around the world. This led me to really assess the business overall – looking at everything from our positioning, our client relationships, our team structure and processes, our growth opportunities, and more. Whenever things are not smooth sailing, I realize that you always need to evaluate if there are better ways of doing things and asking some of the tough questions to make sure you have a strong foundation to build or rebuild from.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Gravitate PR in the future?
Lisette Paras: Every entrepreneur goes through ups and downs – and this year has been no exception. At Gravitate, we really value being solutions-focused, proactive, resilient, and team-oriented – these are all qualities that are important at our agency to succeed and are the same qualities I value as an entrepreneur. Sure, things can be stressful at times, but if you believe in yourself, push forward, and have a great team, then you’ll be able to get through it.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Lisette Paras: There are so many tech PR agencies we may typically encounter in new business situations. We specialize in transforming high-growth technology brands into market leaders – and I think this core premise helps to clearly define us and set us apart. Our broad experience in media relations, analyst relations, digital marketing, content, and other marketing disciplines, our knack for uncovering insightful narratives, and our diverse backgrounds as a team are what enable us to be successful. This and our core values are intrinsic to our growth.
Your final thoughts?
Lisette Paras: As an entrepreneur, you wear many different hats, and every day is different. But no successful entrepreneur goes it alone – you’re only as good as the team who works with you and challenges you, and your wider network that supports you. Every day may not be your best day, but make sure that you take it, learn from it, and continue to find ways to be energized and excited by what you do.
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