Ep. 11: Strategy and Generosity in PR with Michelle Damico

by | Feb 22, 2021 | Podcasts, The Virtuous Heros | 0 comments

Podcast episode

About our Guest

Michelle Damico is a former journalist of 20 years, now CEO and Founder of Michelle Damico Communications, and a fabulous cook with published recipes. Michelle entered marketing and PR as Communications Director of the Daley’95 campaign, as the first director of CityofChicago.org, and as Communications Manager of the Illinois Tollway.

For this episode, Michelle and Chris discuss the value of both strategy and generosity to build a successful PR and marketing company. And as a woman who plays many remarkable roles in her life, Michelle believes that you can attain anything and create your own reality by having a hopeful outlook in life.



Hannah: Thanks for watching our podcast here at Spirit Consulting, our services include business strategy and human resources consulting. In HR, we offer executive search executive coaching and work psychology consulting. Please visit us at spiritmco.com, where we fulfill our client’s dreams virtuously. Enjoy your show.

Chris: Welcome back to the Leading Virtuously Podcast. So excited to be able to have Michelle on the podcast today Michelle, who are you?

Michelle: I am Michelle Damico and I’m the CEO of Michelle’s Damico Communications. I am a news junkie, a former news reporter. I love journalism and I love helping my clients. Grow their businesses through communications.

I’m also the mother of two daughters. One of home is an aspiring journalist at the University of Minnesota. I’m an accomplished cook whose recipes have appeared in the Tribune and the Sun-Times. I’ve taught cooking classes at a Francis Parker school and the Latin school to adults. And I love my business and I love helping.people 

Chris: Great. That’s excellent. And I’m excited for you to come over and cook for me, my wife and my two boys, sometime too Michelle. 

Michelle: When we no longer have to distance socially

Chris: Most definitely. So how did you get to the leadership position that you’re in today? Michelle? 

Michelle: As I said, I was a former news reporter.

I was a news reporter for 15 years. And my last position in radio, I was at WXR T radio in Chicago and W B E Z in Chicago. And my last position was as a morning drive, newscaster. And I wanted something new after 15 years as a reporter in a newscaster, and many of my friends were going into politics.

They were leaving journalism and serving as spokespeople or as public relations people for government officials. And it just so happened that mayor Daley asked me to run his 1995 communications effort for daily 95. The reelection effort of Mayor Daley. I left radio joined politics. Under Mayor Daley.

And after he won in 1995, I became the first director of the city’s website, the first person in 1995 to introduce the city’s website to Chicagoans, and also to teach employees how to use the web for city services. And I’ve been in public relations and marketing ever since. 

Chris: Excellent. Thank you for sharing.

That’s a wild ride. Being in the successful career that you’ve had in public relations, what are some. What are some things that you now know as an insider to the function that a lot of people wouldn’t know about your profession has just…

Michelle: That’s a really good question, Chris, because a lot of reporters and journalists think it’s easy to switch from journalism to PR, oh, I can do that.

I can write a press release. There is so much strategy that goes into a communications initiative, a public relations initiative. And if you aren’t adept at developing strategy at identifying how your news will be received by your audience. That is the biggest battle of all in doing effective communications is to have a strategy and to anticipate the problems as well as the positives that will come out of your PR effort.

And that is one big thing. I’ve learned that you can’t go into any communications initiative, unless you have a strategy very often where clients or prospects will come to me and say, I want to do a press release, or I need media training. And the first thing I’ll say to them as well. What is your goal in doing this press release?

What do you hope to achieve? Who are your audiences? And if you want to be media trained, what are your messages? What’s your value proposition? What are the audiences that, that will hear your message? And it will resonate with that. People don’t think about that. They think about the tactic. They don’t think about the strategy and the impact.

So that is something that I try to instill, especially in so many of my journalism friends who are thinking of switching to PR and also to prospects or clients who come to me and say, I’m interested in PR, but I really don’t know where to start. I know we have news or I know we have something worthwhile to say in the media, but I don’t know where to start.

And the first place you start is on a strategy. 

Chris: Excellent. That’s a no, thank you for sharing that. Yeah. I get admit even in my own career both working as as leading operations for an agency and now I guess the multiple hats of running your own consultancy also in the running nonprofits, in the work that I do with different boards, it’s yeah, I think that you’re dead on that.

Do we actually spend the amount of time thinking through how the message is going to be received versus just what is the message itself and thinking through the strategic piece of communication. So thank you. That’s that’s a great tip from from for outsiders to hear that.

And to understand how that works in your own career too. So thank you. The the this podcast is all about where business and virtue intersect. So where have you seen the way that virtue allows you to be a more impactful leader? 

Michelle: I definitely believe in karma. I believe that when you give it will be a return to you somehow it might not be immediate.

It might not ever happen that fulfillment comes from within, but I do believe if you are a kind and generous person and take the time to help others. The universe will respond and help you back. That universe might be my friends who I’ve helped or other people who’ve heard about the way I help people.

And they’ve come to me as a result or they’ve picked up my vibe, though interviews like this, and they want to reach out to me, but I have been taught by some very impactful mentors. And I have benefited from their generosity and I’ve seen what a good person, how a good person runs a business versus how some pretty nasty people have run their businesses.

And it’s taught me to be a better person overall. So I would say that’s how business and virtual have intersected for me. 

Chris: So you mentioned that, I’ve read the book, the Go-Giver, which is like touching upon exactly that the philosophy that if you just give to other people that it comes back, can you, and but that’s in theory, can you think of a specific example where that was something that you felt like you were diving into something to go the extra mile for someone, and it ended up being a positive gain for you and from a business perspective or any area of life where it was a benefit.

Michelle: Yeah, I let me give you an example. I very often get contacted by editors and they’ll say, I’m looking for I’d like to speak. I’d like to know if you have a client who is an expert in logistics and can talk to me about the challenges that Walmart is facing right now in delivering products to people’s homes.

And I might have a client that can talk about that, but often I don’t have a client that can talk about that because a reporter comes to me. I want that reporter to keep coming back to me. So I will find them an expert, even if it’s not a client. So I will help that reporter and I will find them an expert by contacting my group of friends and saying, Hey, I’m looking for somebody.

Who’s an expert in logistics. Do you know of anybody? And I’ll call that individual up. I am not charging you. I am not asking for money, but this editor wants to talk to a logistics expert. And Chris told me that you’re an expert. Would you like to talk to that editor? There is no fee involved here and I’ve just made a connection and that person may or may not want to do business with me.

It really doesn’t matter. The goal is to serve editors and report. And the goal is to just become, expand my network. And that’s all that often does in turn, expand my network. So the karma happens, the good experience happens. And as a result, everybody benefits. 

Chris: Excellent. No, I think that’s yeah.

Thank you for communicating that. I can definitely see how. As you start to fulfill that person’s needs that they just increase you as an asset to their own network. And so that only, continues, you’re bridging the gap between two people, a you’re serving as a benefit, not only to the editor, but also to that individual, to that increases your.

Your desire into the network too, so that you’re not just coming to them saying, Hey, I’m Michelle and I I want to be able to do your PR, but it’s more so Hey, here’s an opportunity for you to, and if it’s not for you, I’m sure there’s someone in your own network that might come to mind as well, so yeah.

Michelle: It’s a more natural way to network, rather than just a cold call. Saying hi. I’d like to grow my network. You’d be part of my network. It’s just a more authentic way to do it. 

Chris: Yeah. And I think Michelle there, as transitioning thankfully out of the young professional into the middle of my own career I think that oftentimes younger professionals may not necessarily feel like they always have those opportunities that you’re talking about to be able to lead with.

Is there any coaching that you might have. For younger professionals to be able to uncover that and lead with that versus leading with your traditional last.

Michelle: oh boy. I run across a lot of young professionals because I I’m a member of a few associations. One of them is the turnaround management association, which is the organization of professionals that help distress businesses.

And so what I will often advise them is to talk about what they love and talk about what they’re best at, and and find a way to sag you segue from what they do to what they love, because you’ll always be. More attractive to a prospect, if you can convey passion as well as smarts and skill.

So I, I do try to mentor them by stressing the how passion shines through as loud as smarts and skill shine. 

Chris: Excellent. And that is also beautiful because we all can get passionate about things and we are limited to the amount of IQ that we’ve been blessed with. What do you feel like has been one of the most life-changing books that you’ve read that you frequently give out to people?

Michelle: I like the book the secret. Have you ever heard of that book? I have, yes. That book really changed my view about potential and how you can create your own future and your own. You can create the re the reality that you want. And it, that book, somebody introduced that book in that movie to me during one of my last, PR agency jobs that I hated.

And I read that book about living as though you have it already living your life as though what you want has already come to you. And so I decided that I was going to work every day and this Michigan avenue PR firm with the attitude that I already have a new job. I don’t know where that new job is. I don’t know who’s going to hire me, but I am going to my office and clearing out my desk.

I literally had minimal amount of stuff on my desk that any time now I was going to be offered another job. I was going to find my dream job. I literally did clear out my desk so that nobody would have. Notice that I was getting ready to leave, but I acted as though every day I was going to my new job and I started off my day with optimism and excitement about what my new job was going to be probably a month or two into adopting this attitude.

Every morning I got laid off and that a few days later I got two calls. From to, from owners of two firms who were looking for a freelance PR person to assign 20 hours of work a week too. So I got two freelance gigs providing me with full time work out of my home and doing what I love to do, but not hassling with all of the agency world.

It was exactly what I was. And I believe the secret because of my attitude change. I got what I was wishing for. 

Chris: Thank you for sharing yea. It seems that also is a person who’s brimming with hope and optimism versus the individual who is stuck in a rut. And just feeling like there’s every day I gotta do this again, just so burned out on the position.

So I could see how that is attractive to the world. And the world wants to employ people that are, as you’re talking about that our passion filled. And hope filled that have vision and purpose for the work that they’re doing. thank you for sharing Michelle, how can people get ahold of you in the work that you’re doing?

Michelle: They could find [email protected], M I C H E L E D A M I C O .com or email me at [email protected] or go to find me on LinkedIn. I’m also, I have a business page on Facebook and I am at Michelle Damico on Twitter. 

Chris: Great. Thank you so much for being on the show today. I really enjoyed a lot of the stories that you shared today, Michelle, and really look forward to the way that it is going to bless our audience as well.

Michelle: Thank you for inviting me to be on your podcast, Chris, it’s really exciting to see someone like you rolling out a podcast and putting, putting your own personal stamp on it. And it’s very inspiring. So thanks for having me as a guest. 

Chris: Thank you. 

Hey, Chris here. Hope you enjoyed the episode where we discussed all things going bald, just joking, the Leading Virtuously Podcast.

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