Meredith Fineman, founder of FinePoint Digital PR, believes that women should not be afraid to self-promote and “brag about themselves”. She certainly has a lot to brag about. She has worked in marketing for some of the biggest brand such as Bloomingdale’s and CBS and went on to found Finepoint Digital PR, which uses digital strategies to promote her clients’ brands.Meredith is also a free-lance writer and has been featured in publications ranging from the Harvard Business Review to Marie Claire. We caught up with Meredith to chat about female entrepreneurship, public relations and, of course, brunch. Read what she had to say below.
You founded FinePoint, which focuses on personal branding, media relations, and profile-raising. What are the most important strategies for growing the presence of your brand?
So for me, I promoted companies and brands and products for three years before realizing that business leadership, and visible individuals, weren’t getting the right branding and pr treatment. Now FinePoint empowers leadership (like CEOs and founders) by using PR tactics. That’s a fancy way of saying, “Let me show you how treating yourself like a PR campaign can help your professional goals and the goals of your company”. The two overarching things are consistency of content, and the consistency of message. An old journalism adage is apropos here – “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell it to them, and then tell them what you told them”. You have to repeat your personal brand message over and over again, across platforms, for a while, in order for it to stick. Once you’ve got that nailed down, you can work on growth. Also, writing and content development is key, something I do and also the company does. You are literally driving the conversation because you are creating the conversation.
Part of FinePoint’s mission is to bring modernize the field of PR. How have you used digital platforms for your clients? Which do you think if the most important and effective?
FinePoint has transitioned from a communications company to a leadership company – effectively taking those tenets (self promotion, pitching, campaigns) and leveraging them for other uses. I think more than modernize the field of PR, it’s helping people realize that public relations is more than press hits. It’s more than just press – it’s about how you tell your story, and how you amplify your mission. Digitally—that is crucial. I started FinePoint as a digital strategist, so of course that’s an enormous element.
I don’t think that one platform is the most effective; it varies by person. However, what’s most important is that you blow one platform out of the water, versus doing a bunch with lukewarm enthusiasm. If you have a more visual company or product or personal brand—do Instagram, and do it well. There’s nothing worse than a dormant Twitter. Nothing.
You have said that women need to “learn to brag” and self-promote their personal achievements. What do you think is the biggest obstacle for women in doing that? Do you think it’s easier or harder for career women in D.C.?
Yes – a huge part of what I do is tackling a very specific sliver of professional confidence for women that can be abetted with PR tactics – bragging and self-promotion. Bragging isn’t a dirty word. Women have done tremendous amounts of work, but we’re not talking about that, or showcasing it properly. It’s essential, but it’s scary and awful because as a woman it’s about ten times more complex and mired in social constructs. You’re stuck between not saying anything and being labeled as a “loud mouth” or a “braggart” or some far worse adjectives.
Here’s the deal: it’s easy to take shots at someone who is more out there. Everyone is going to judge. But own it, because you’ve done the work. The biggest obstacle is what others will think. But people will form those opinions whether you’re bragging or not, so you may as well be.
In DC, everyone is more buttoned up. Look at the gender diversity in politics. No wonder it’s hard for women to step out in Washington.
What about you: what is your biggest career achievement to date?
Well, there was that time I was on a best dressed list as the only non-celebrity during White House Correspondents Dinner. That was pretty hilarious, and also great for my ego and style obsession. But real best career achievement: still running FinePoint four years later. Not giving up. And also having Ann Friedman write about me in her article on how public relations gets a bad rap.
Being such a successful female entrepreneur, what are some of the first things women should do when thinking about starting their own venture?
I guess the thing I always tell people is to just…do it. Starting is the hardest part. So, just start. It’s going to suck. It’s going to be awesome. It’s going to be terrifying. It’s going to be liberating. But it’s all you baby! Plus – there are many days when I feel like crap. But the good outweighs the bad so it’s worth it.
As a small business owner, you must be pretty busy! What are your top productivity tips for getting things done? What about favorite apps?
Well…the most popular thing I ever wrote was about how we all busy brag.
But yeah, I’m usually shoveling in a salad while on a conference call. I did a PopExpert class on delegation from the founder of Zirtual (and I use Zirtual). It was about becoming an obsessive delegator.
Sunrise app for my calendar. If it’s not on my calendar, I will forget. I put barre classes and gym time in there as a reminder to do it. I also really like the Pomodoro method, and I have a Chrome plug-in for that, which bars you from checking your social media. It’s terrifying how often I want to click on Facebook in 25 minutes. I love Headspace for meditation, when I actually remember to do it. My zen is a long, long work in progress.
Are you a Bitch Who Brunches? If so, what is your favorite place in town for brunch?
So, I have to admit something. I hate brunch. But 90% of it is because I always order wrong. I always pick the salad, when I should’ve picked the unhealthy thing and just done it. I also never know whether to choose between savory or sweet. I’m a disaster in that area.
What brunch item do you have to order if it’s on the menu?
If I am doing a brunch, I basically just take cues from everyone else and take a bite of everyone else’s, because I have FAILED and ordered the damn salad.
Do you prefer Bloody Marys or mimosas?
Gin and tonics.
If you had to invite five local celebrities to brunch, who would they be?
Michelle Obama, of course, The Notorious RBG (Ruth Bader Ginsburg), Julia Louis-Dryfuss (she’s from here, so), Olivia Pope, and Claire Underwood. I might not come out alive.