Last month, I was able to have a great, informative discussion with Deirdre Breakenridge as part of EngageBay’s ongoing interview series with the biggest names in sales and marketing. In case you’re not familiar, Breakenridge is the Pure Performance Communications CEO. She’s also an entrepreneur, public speaker, author, and professor at American University in Washington, D.C.

If you’ve heard of the #PRStudChat hashtag on Twitter, Breakenridge was one of its founders. That hashtag allowed college students to connect with educators and professionals in public relations on social media. It came into existence more than a decade ago, when things like hashtags weren’t as well understood. Still, Deirdre broke through and made a major impact on social media.

Another bit of significant work Breakenridge does is host a podcast called Women Worldwide through the Social Network Station. This show is very beloved, much like all of Deirdre’s work. In fact, she has earned many awards over the course of her career. These include being a PR Tech Award honoree in 2014, a Top 50 Social Media Influencer through Cision in 2014, one of the 250 Most Influential Women Leaders in the World by Richtopia, and one of the Best 50 Women in Business through NJBIZ in 2015.

During our intriguing interview, Breakenridge shared a lot of great points on such topics as connecting with people, the role of public relations in small businesses, and which tools a small business needs. Here are some of the best takeaways from our conversation.

People Appreciate the FEEL Model

Deirdre opened up to me about the death of her stepdaughter in 2018, who was only in her 20’s when she passed. The loss inspired Deirdre to interview other millennials over the course of weeks. Through her research, she began to realize the importance of utilizing the FEEL model with these millennials and everyone she communicated with. 

What does FEEL stand for? Facing your fears, engaging with empathy, using ethics and good judgment, and unleashing the love. She says this model allows her to build an unbreakable bond with those she works with, including clients.

Breakenridge does mention it’s important for the FEEL model to be two-sided for it to be effective. Start using it today with your own professional circle.  

PR Can Aide Small Businesses in Building Credibility and Trust

If you’re a small or even a medium-sized business and you’re not using public relations, it’s high time you start. Deirdre mentioned in our interview how, through PR, it’s possible for these smaller businesses to cultivate a sense of trust and credibility. From endorsements to influencers, media relations, content marketing, and more, PR has a big role in how visible a company can become. 

All that said, even Breakenridge mentions that she believes in using a mix of media, not just one thing over and over. She says “it’s never going to be just public relations, marketing, content marketing…” Deirdre refers to it as the PESO mix, or paid, earned, shared, and owned media, with owned media referring to your own content.  

Tools Can Help Small Businesses That Are Looking to Scale-up

Breakenridge recommends a handful of tools for small business owners who are looking for something new to try as they grow. These include:

  • Grammarly for content writing
  • Evernote for staying organized 
  • Google Surveys
  • Google Analytics for tracking website traffic and more
  • BuzzSumo for influencer and content marketing
  • Hootsuite
  • BaseCamp for project management 

That’s all I have to share with you. If you want to hear more of the great points and inputs that Deirdre Breakenridge had to share, I strongly recommend you check out the interview in its entirety on EngageBay!