Richelle Zizian: Motivating ''Publics'' to Read

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Want to succeed in the field of public relations? According to Richelle Zizian, the key lies in the ability to approach your PR job from a logical and somewhat emotionless perspective. ''Develop thick skin. Just like acting, modeling, or any other career where you put your thoughts and ideas on the line, you must be prepared for rejection. Don't take it personally, just re-analyze your pitch and move on. There are more nos than yeses in this business.''

Zizian, publicity manager for Hay House, Inc., graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a minor in Public Relations. Interestingly, when she started college she planned on pursuing a career in the advertising field, but soon discovered that PR was the field for her. She quips, “When I realized I had no artistic talent and preferred to focus on writing and persuasion, I decided to pursue public relations.”

Understanding that the best course of action to ensure future success in the PR industry would be to create a solid foundation initially, she strived to obtain as much real-world experience as she could before graduating. For example, she became a member of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and also sought out additional public relations projects, including managing PR campaigns for non-profit organizations.

The semester before graduation Zizian earned a public relations job with the firm of Nuffer, Smith, Tucker, Inc. In fact, she thrived to such an extent that she was offered — and accepted — a position with the company after she completed school. During her time with the firm, Zizian worked with such established corporations as McDonald’s and Sony electronics.

While she loved the public relations field, however, she wasn’t completely satisfied with her job and decided to look elsewhere. After posting her resume on a job website, she soon got some interest from Hay House, Inc., a publishing company that specializes in the promotion of self-help and motivational books.

Interestingly, Zizian admits that this was not the sort of public relations job that she had previously considered before interviewing. She explains, “I had never considered in-house publicity, but I’m a huge advocate of it now! Unlike working in an agency, a publicist in-house and in publishing is solely responsible for the success of a campaign. We see things through from the ground up — this can be an incredible amount of work but [also] highly rewarding in the end.”

Zizian has been working at Hay House since 2003, when she joined the company as a publicist. During her tenure thus far, she has launched more than 130 products and managed numerous publicity campaigns, including media appearances, book signings, and event tours for authors such as Deepak Chopra, Robert Holden, and Denise Linn. In 2007, Zizian was promoted to the position of senior publicist before being promoted again in early 2008 to the position of publicity manager.

Her rapid rise through the company, and the public relations field, can be directly attributed to the effort that she has exerted in her job and her career. For example, she assisted in the launch of a subdivision of Hay House, SmileyBooks, and also worked with start-ups and non-profit organizations by managing their trade publicity campaigns.

In fact, it is this desire to succeed and her willingness to back multiple (and varied) clients, along with, perhaps most importantly, her ability to develop unique PR strategies, that have propelled her. “I love that I have 50 balls in the air at one time…I’m always working with diverse clients and creating new ‘out-of-the-box’ ways to promote their products. I think the most challenging part of my job is getting my clients to understand a realistic goal for their media approach and campaign. Not everyone can be a star, but I like to under-promise and over-deliver. I take every shot-in-the-dark opportunity, because you never know who will say yes!”

This, in fact, is a philosophy that Zizian applies to everything she does in the public relations field. She believes that it is vital for any public relations professional to ensure that his or her client is aware of the competitive marketplace, and to help manage client expectations while at the same time remaining willing to take risks and try unique strategies in order to realize client goals.

It is a matter of creating a balance between what is expected and what can be accomplished. And this idea of under-promising and over-delivering has the potential to result in huge coups for the publicist, as well as the client. “Nothing gives you a greater feeling than landing a national hit for a sleeper product,” she says.

Ultimately, working for a motivational and inspirational publishing company has allowed Zizian to motivate readers — through her work — to take action and shape their lives in the same way that she has shaped her career: with the willingness to work hard, the readiness to take chances, and the drive and motivation needed to accomplish even more than you originally set out to.

Q: What do you do for fun?
A: Shop, buy music on iTunes, visit New York museums, walk, try new restaurants (I’m definitely a foodie).

Q: What CD is in your CD player right now?
A: Leona Lewis’s “Bleeding Love” is playing on my iTunes right now…love it!

Q: What is the last magazine you read?
A: New York magazine.

Q: What is your favorite TV show?
A: Brothers & Sisters, October Road, 24.

Q. Who is your role model?
A: My dad: persistent, loyal, open-minded, humorous, and a stellar work ethic.

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