Today we’d like to introduce you to Melissa Berger.
Melissa, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was always involved with some kind of PR or marketing throughout my younger life. If it was in high school or college, I was always the one who was involved in planning a social, dance, charity event, connecting people an what my friends called me, “the mayor” of the group haha! I was always thrown into something, somehow and some way, shape or form.
Little did I know, it was prepping me for the career I’m in now… After college, I was a little stuck in what I wanted to do when it came to my career. All at once, I was coaching high school softball, serving/bartending and I got my first “real” job in Sales for a cable company selling TV spots locally and regionally. I wasn’t the biggest fan of sales …but I loved the experience, the learning lessons, but more importantly, I adored my badass female boss, who actually “discovered” me when I served her entire company. That’s how she offered me the job. See, I was a bit of a late bloomer when it came to public relations or marketing and even knowing what an internship was, but I knew PR was something I just fell into organically.
I graduated with a Communications and Spanish degree and soon after, at the age of 25, I left everything I knew and moved for an internship with a professional baseball team, I knew one of my passions was sports and being involved in the sports industry was something that sparked my interest, so I took the leap of faith for six months. Which turned into another incredible, life-changing experience where PR feel into my lap once again. Along with concessions, front office, stadium operations, ugh, you get the hint haha! After my internship, I went back to my home town, Las Vegas where I was offered a “marketing” job with a very profound athlete. I was a 25/26-year-old woman wondering if I was making the right choices along that path, but who says you don’t question your choices then?
A bit unhappy in what I was doing, I wanted to expand my interest and make more money, so I did odd jobs on the side, one was a production assistant on national shows which came to Las Vegas to shoot for a bit. I then met a woman, who was a known host and I still talk to this day. (When they say it comes all back around, that is a fact!) She is the main reason I’m in LA and Im always grateful for her! Her and I stayed in touch, especially when she went back to LA, then a job opportunity arose at her work, she quickly reached out to me and tried to convince me to take the interview, which was a PA at E!. I was really hesitate to even move to LA, I didn’t want too, BUT I took the leap of faith, got on a flight within a day, took the interview and a week later, the job was mine to take!
Just to backtrack a little bit, another huge blessing in my life and why I’m in the position I am in now is because of one of my childhood friends, who was a pretty big music publicist for a label. She would always tell me to get into PR, that I belonged there, etc. I brushed her off all the time back then, but now… haha! THANK YOU! Anyway, I packed up my car, drove to LA and crashed on my Aunt’s, Uncles extra bedroom until I figured out my life! Haha… I was working as a production assistant for E! News and The Daily 10 and when they say you have to start at the bottom and work your way up, that was my plan! I ended up lasting a good seven months there, my boss (at the time) pulled me into his office and asking me, “what are you doing here?!?” he thought I didn’t blow as a PA, I was too creative, outgoing, outspoken, etc. He then told me, “he was doing me a favor.”
At the time, I just wanted to throw papers everywhere, kick doors, throw things, I just moved all the way to LA for this job and left everything. After that moment, if things couldn’t get worse, my dog died, lost my job and I got into a car accident all in one weekend. It was a blast! Haha! They always say if you can make it over a 2-year hump in LA it’s smooth sailing… I was ready to leave LA, go back to school, get my Master’s in teaching, until my mom told me to give it a month longer. Very reluctant, I did… My friend, who worked as a publicist for a label told me I would be great at personal PR (Talent PR) and I came across an “ad” for a woman, who was a personal publicist looking for an assistant.
I quickly applied, not expecting to get it, went in for the interview and she told me she wanted to give me a month trial (perfect timing right?) haha.. that month turned into a year. Then two amazing mentors of mine called me, and they were influencing me to just “jump” to take the “leap” in starting my own firm. A tiny office space was avail in their office in Beverly Hills and to take it! I thought they were crazy, I couldn’t afford to have an office in BH and jump spend my entire savings hoping my leap of faith would work, besides I was teaching myself a ton the past year I was at this firm. One of my mentors told me an agency owned the building and maybe there was a way I can help them with their clients if I could get a good rate to have my office there… and so…
I walked into their offices, made a deal with them and got an amazing rate on the space. I took the leap of faith and used most, if not all of my savings, praying to G-D this would all work out. I had two-three clients from the start (who were waiting for me to start my own firm), but they weren’t paying me enough to run a company, I knew I had to hustle. I then hustled, hustled, hustled and hustled some more and in walked two different talents into my life (one who was with me for almost ten years!) and I started to hustle my work with them, which got them a TON of exposure, which led to more clients, events, collaborations, new offices, brand partnerships, more events, more clients and MORE relationships across the board…
This was the cliff notes version of my story, oh yeah, the boss that fired me as a PA with E!, I bumped into him when one of my clients was doing a talk show he was the Executive Producer on and we had a cool moment… he was right, and so was my friend. 🙂
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
ABSOLUTELLLLYYYYYYYY…. NOT! Haha… The ride was def, not smooth at all… and its never a smooth ride, even now… you come across a lot of bumps in the road. I don’t think you are ever clear, just some bumps might be a lot smaller than what I started out with…I’m a lot more experienced in this stage in my life, and I know how to react and/or deal with these struggles along the way.
I look at everything as a learning lesson, a big learning lesson. You have to pay attention to it, take it in, learn from it… you might not like it, but you can’t let FEAR get in the way. If you do that, then it wins and you might end up on a road you don’t want to be on and not doing what you know you should be doing. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and these roads, smooth and/or bumpy are ALL learning experiences.
It all just falls into place, at some point in your life. Patience is a virtue, and it’s DEF really hard to stay patient, but at the end of the day, it always falls into place. So to answer your question, I think I stated a couple of my struggles in the question before this one. Losing my dog, getting fired from my job that I moved to LA for and the big car accident all in one weekend…
That’s was a huge struggle for me, but it brought me to my very first job as an assistant to a personal publicist, which led to me starting my own company, so I can’t get too angry about it all! In terms of the struggle, you are always going to have some form of struggle along the way, if you don’t then you are not being tested and your motivation, your “go-getter” mentality, your hustle could disappear, and I don’t want them to ever disappear.
We’d love to hear more about what you do.
My companies name is Melissa Berger Public Relations, LLC. We are a boutique public relations company with a reputation as a distinctive agency skilled in personal PR, branding collaborations, corporate, entertainment and event relations, among many others. We elevate awareness of talent, brands, projects, events to top tier local, national and regional markets which includes everything from print, digital editorial, blogs, local and national broadcast media outlets, morning/night TV shows, as well as events, red carpets, etc. We also have strong relationships with brands and collaborate talent relations with the brands on campaigns or media placement, etc.
My company aims to create unique opportunities by partnering up with outlets that focus on anything from entertainment, women’s interest, fashion and beauty, lifestyle, fitness and health, business, music, etc. We have strong relationships with top editors, talent bookers, producers, digital editors and bloggers, tastemakers, etc. We build and create pitches around the talent and their projects (TV Show, Film, Music, Charity, Their other passions besides their projects, health, food, etc. ) and secure anything from interviews, features, photo shoots, social media campaigns, appearances, brand collaborations, meet and greets with top magazine editors, etc.
My company loves retention, I think that is one aspect of my company that I adore, is the retention of our clients. We’ve had the same clients for ten years, one for six, another for four, another for three, etc. We understand talent and/or projects have a life span, but when they go on hiatus, we want them to return to us when the next project happens, that is one of the important things we strive for at the company. Being a boutique company has a lot of advantages, one of them is, attention. When you go with a smaller boutique agency, giving the talent and/or project the time and attention that is needed and/or wanted is usually very important to the client.
You get that personal connection with your publicist and your team, they almost feel like family to you. We are very flexible and available in crunch times, or when needed, we can react quickly. We are passionate and creative thinkers, especially when it comes to pitching, a jack of all trades, like they say “boutique is unique” you get more than to experience it, you are actually a part of it. 🙂 This might sound a little cliche, but you are working directly with the owner, so there is a genuine touch about that… Another big one is budget, a boutique firm will have a lower budget than a big firm and will get the same, if not more “bang for their” buck, for potentially half the rate of a large firm.
What separates us from others is our ability to wear several hats than just a publicist one. We think outside the box, we pitch differently than a “normal talent publicist,” we have different relationships that can expand past editorial. We think of our clients as brands, and we love to compliment not only their talent but their ideas and passions, by giving them different opportunities that some PR firms aren’t capable of doing, etc. But overall, we don’t take anyone and/or anything on unless we feel passion for them, that would do an injustice for everyone if we didn’t. 🙂
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
To be honest, I wish I could tell you my future, I def have a list of things I want to accomplish…Do I hope to expand my company, absolutely! Do I look forward in rep’ing an Oscar winner, absolutely! Do I look forward in having everyone on my roster now and in the future to stay put for forever and ever, absolutely! Do I hope to work with a network at some capacity, absolutely! Do I hope to plan a successful event in Cannes, absolutely! Do I hope all my clients get TV shows, films and/or projects 24/7 absolutely! They work, I work! Haha!
There are SO many things I would love to have in my future, I can probably give you a laundry list, but like I said, I take things day by day, In my job, I get to talk too, meet, email different people all the time and that’s one aspect of my job that I look forward to, daily! In terms of the changes or planning in more detail… I like to keep that private… I know, I don’t speak it into existence like I should! 🙂
- Email: Melissa@mbergerpr.com
- Instagram: @Mbergerpr
- Twitter: @Mbergerpr