In early 2009, after building a career in marketing, Meghan Ely decided to open her own agency targeting a very specific niche: weddings! The agency, called OFD Consulting, became one of the very first wedding-centric public relations firms. Meghan leads the team, working exclusively with wedding professionals all over the world. About half of their work is through their wedding PR membership, the OFD Collective, and the other half is dedicated to representing Wedding Industry Speakers in the B2B space.
Here, Meghan walked us through her typical day, providing nuggets of wisdom for budding brands and publicists.
This interview has been lightly edited.
Walk us through your daily routine. When does it start? End?
I’m a reluctant early bird since I must have my son at school by 7:15 a.m. Given that I did virtual school for a year and a half, I want to take advantage of every second I can, so I’m typically at my desk shortly after that unless I can squeeze in a ride with a friend.
I rarely take morning appointments, so I can have three to four hours to work on my significant tasks while also leaving wiggle room for any last-minute media/speaking requests that may come in. Oftentimes, the rest of the day is filled with appointments.
I have set office hours for our speakers and Collective members, as well as several standing appointments, since I serve as the 2022 President for Weddings International Professionals Association. Ideally, work is wrapped up by dinner time, but since I do work a great deal with West Coast clients, I sometimes slip back into my email for a few minutes to clear things out. Friday afternoons are the exception—they tend to be a slow media day, so you can generally find me splitting my time between wrapping up the week and welcoming the neighborhood kiddos over for donuts.
How do you invest in your relationships with clients?
I’m fortunate to connect with many of our clients on-site at conferences throughout the year. When able, I make sure to host group events for them, even if it’s as simple as a dinner out with our speakers. On-site, my priority is not only to support them during their speaking engagement, but find downtime simply to hang out—whether it’s over a glass of wine or while on the Peloton bikes together in the gym! We try [to] never to miss a birthday or an OFD anniversary and invest in small but impactful surprise and delight campaigns for them.
What about your relationship with journalists?
My relationships with journalists are almost exclusively online and I often say that our friendships are created one email sentence at a time! I think it’s important to first get into the mindset that they are human like the rest of us, and like many of us who work for ourselves, the job can be isolating.
Naturally, I find myself falling into side conversations with writers when we find mutual interests—be it cats, kids or the fact we’re from the same area. Of course, if I ever found myself traveling to a place where they live, I wouldn’t hesitate to invite them out for coffee!
What advice would you give to a publicist just starting out?
Early on as a publicist, I imagine you’re going to try many specialties, but over time, you will want to consider narrowing down your focus. I love being firmly (and unapologetically!) entrenched in the wedding space. I can dedicate 100 percent of my efforts to the wedding industry and media.
What are three things brands should keep in mind when pitching media?
When pitching a journalist for the first time, make sure you’ve spent most of the time reading their prior work first. Taking the time to craft a pitch that demonstrates you understand their beat will make a difference. As a rule of thumb, I like to review the last six to nine months of a writer's articles for the specific outlet I’m pitching.
When pitching, always stick to email unless a writer has specifically shared an alternative route. Better yet, if they have shared specifics about email, follow their directions exactly. Writers set parameters for a reason, and it’s important to respect that.
Don’t bog down a writer’s inbox with attachments if you need to send along images. We typically set up a shareable DropBox link that properly names each of the files and includes a document that outlines the photography credits and corresponding URLs. Make it as easy as possible on them.
What’s the biggest no-no in earned media?
After an article is published, you only follow up for one of two things—to say thank you (always) and if there is a big enough error that needs correcting, which is rare. Never reach out to ask for a client to be added, or a story angle changed. When you send in materials to be reviewed and potentially featured, you go into an informal contract with the writer that they will take it and run with it. You have no say in how the client is portrayed, and if you want that sort of control, then you need to pursue advertorials instead.
What do you like the most about your job? What’s the hardest part?
I love the client wins: there’s nothing better than seeing a big feature come to fruition or a speaker booked for their first national conference. I love having a front seat to their success. The hardest part about publicity is that you are, ultimately, heavily impacted by an industry that you have no control over (and for a good reason!). For that reason, publicity is equal parts pitching, as it sets expectations with clients.