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Cindy Rakowitz, co-founder of Blackman • Rakowitz Public Relations.

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Cindy Rakowitz gave up her job doing public relations for Playboy — what she now calls a “dream job for any person in PR” — to run her own PR firm. In doing so, she has built a successful public relations firm in her own right, and has learned a number of valuable lessons while doing so.

When she worked at Playboy Enterprises, the magazine was not viewed as pornographic. As this was before the advent of the Internet, viewers still found a woman taking a shower with clothes on titillating.

The Internet changed that, and Playboy’s online division had to get into XXX, hardcore pornography in order to stay competitive. Rakowitz had personal and professional qualms with this direction (this type of material was harder to defend to feminists, for instance), so she decided to start her own public relations business, Blackkman Rakowitz Public Relations.

Bringing “Sizzle” to PR

“The media wants sizzle,” Rakowitz says. She says that one of the keys to Blackman Rakowitz’ success is that she understands how to create topical public relations campaigns that fit her clients’ brands.

An example she cites is Patrón Tequila, which everyone knows now as an upscale tequila drink. When Patrón came to Blackman Rakowitz, however, tequila had a reputation as a college party, drink-to-get-hammered drink. To promote Patrón as more of an upscale sipping drink, she set up upscale parties at events like the Cannes Film Festival.

Patrón’s sales increased by 75%.

These types of innovative campaigns are what keep companies coming to Blackman Rakowitz.

"Rakowitz urges young entrepreneurs to use social networking tools such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to advantage in order to drum up their business”

Social Media is the Future of PR

Rakowitz urges young entrepreneurs to use social networking tools such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to their advantage in order to drum up business. In fact, she says, “Don’t start a business until you’ve gotten 500 Twitter followers.”

She is very clear about you entrepreneurs should use Twitter, however. According to Rakowitz, a third of your tweets should be fun, a third should be reciprocal @-replies to other members on Twitter, and a third should be plain old-fashioned marketing.

While social media is bringing new tools to the forefront of public relations, Rakowitz has one word of caution for those who want to leverage social media to build their brands: don’t over-market yourself. Just as you wouldn’t talk solely about your business at an in-person networking event, so too shouldn’t you do the same on Twitter or Facebook.

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