By: Courtney Fogle (@courtnxyfogle)
This episode of PR Hangover features Jill Hinton Wolfe, adjunct professor at GVSU. She has experience in both entrepreneurship and public relations, bringing these skills to the classroom to provide her students with real-life examples.
GO Scavenger Hunts
GO Scavenger Hunts is the brainchild of Jill and her business partner Carol Distel. They create scavenger hunts for corporate team building and have worked with clients such as Nike, Amway, Fiser and Home Depot. They’ve received recognition from clients all over America because of their unique operation for developing team bonding and trust. The scavenger hunts take place via an app, allowing participants to get out of their comfort zones and connect with one another.
Her PR skills have helped her tremendously. She’s able to use her creative edge to tell the story of the business and write each challenge while also using her technical skills to run analytics and conduct website management.
The Relationship Between Entrepreneurship & Public Relations
Jill says PR is largely about strategy, which is very much like running a business. You’ll deal with rejection in both entrepreneurship and public relations; some things will work and others won’t, so experimenting will be your best friend. Storytelling is applicable to both practices as well. She says that storytelling isn’t something you can learn like grammar because there’s no real formula for it. It’s about having a gut feeling about what people will connect with, and forming it in a way that they’ll find interesting. Successful businesses will understand who their audience is and how to connect with them.
Knowing Your Audience
It’s important for every business to determine the audience and how to position the company in a way that engages them. Jill talks about the difference between her former business, Outdoor Book Club, and her current operations for GO Scavenger Hunts. Each have required different strategies for communication with the proper audience.
Outdoor Book Club was a business-to-consumer communication. With such a niche market, Jill was able to receive national coverage. GO Scavenger Hunts is business-to-business communication, and she reaches out to HR employees from each client she pursues. “Word of mouth is our biggest sales tool,” she says. Clients end up giving positive reviews or suggesting the activity to other organizations. Jill also targets companies that have been named “the best companies to work for” and reaches out to potential clients via email.
Jill’s Advice for Starting a Business
- Avoid borrowing money. You’ll learn more by being practical with the resources you have.
- Find a way to sell to businesses as opposed to consumers. Selling to businesses might be a better and more consistent revenue stream.
- Hire interns. If you don’t have the resources, specifically for public relations needs, there are always students looking for experience.
Courtney Fogle is a junior studying Advertising and Public Relations. She is currently the Podcast Director for PRSSA and an account associate at GrandPR. Courtney is a singer-songwriter, with hopes to combine her love of music and PR so that she can work in the music industry managing artists and their brands. In her free time, you can find her listening to music or taking pictures of her cat, Oliver.