Coffee Chat With Taryn Scher, The Sparkle Boss at TK PR
May 20th, 2022
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Taryn Scher—also known as The Sparkle Boss at TK PR—has built a successful career in public relations and earned media marketing over the last several decades. Since 2008, she’s lived by her company’s motto of: ‘New York results with a touch of Southern charm’ to earn exposure and boost sales for her clients. As a boutique public relations firm specializing in hospitality, tourism, and consumer product brands, they work to develop story ideas that earn national coverage. They focus on timely and relevant pitches that honor the current news cycle and storylines to land non-paid editorial features. 

Taryn took time out of her schedule to chat with Press Hook about her day-to-day routine, along with top tips for budding brands and publicists on getting the attention of the most sought-after journalists:

This interview has been lightly edited.

Walk us through your daily routine. When does it start? When does it end?

My day starts when my daughters leave for school. By 7:15 a.m., I’m at my desk. I have an office downtown in Greenville, South Carolina, but working from home gives me more flexibility and adds an extra hour or two on most days, so I work from home 90 percent of the time. 

I keep my inbox at 0, so any emails I have to deal with are ones that came in overnight. I handle those first and flag any that don’t need immediate attention. For the most part, my days are pretty scheduled in advance, with just enough wiggle room for an urgent deadline for a journalist to pop in and get handled as needed. I usually have anywhere from two to five Zooms or calls a day. When I’m not on a Zoom with a client or journalist, I’m pitching the media or working on our latest media initiatives for each client.

I volunteer with the local chamber’s Minority Business Accelerator program as a coach, so I have a coach meeting or help the entrepreneur I’m mentoring at least once a week. At least three days a week, I have to remind myself to stand up and walk around—otherwise, I wind up sitting at my desk for eight hours straight. By 5 p.m. I’m usually able to walk away from my desk and be ‘Mom’ until my girls go to sleep. I try to keep after-hours work to a minimum and only put out fires that can’t wait until the morning.

How do you invest in your relationships with clients?

We are in touch with our clients regularly through email or calls, and they are constantly in the loop of what we are working on. I’m proud to say that during COVID, we didn’t lose any clients even though they were all in tourism and hospitality and impacted harder than any other industry. Most of our clients have been with us for 5+ years at this point, so we’ve become more than their PR firm, but really a strategic partner who understands their businesses and industries inside and out and can help with the big picture far beyond just PR.

What about your relationship with journalists?

Treat them well and expect nothing in return. They don’t owe you a story. They don’t owe you anything. Don’t ever forget that.

What advice would you give to a publicist just starting out?

Do the work. So many PR pros are a lot of ‘smoke and mirrors’, and when you peel back the curtain to look at real results, you can't find much substance. The best PR professionals I know are the ones that are doing the hard work—pitching the media—every single day.

What are three things brands should keep in mind when pitching media?

Pay attention to the news cycle. You have to use better judgment here and realize there are some days when you just can’t pitch a story. Despite what the client says, sometimes you have to do the right thing and realize it’s just going to damage any relationship you have with the media to pitch the story anyway.

Keep lead times in mind. Some journalists turn around a story in a matter of hours; others plan six to 18 months in advance. It’s hard to shift your brain to think that way, but it’s the only way to make sure you’re maximizing every opportunity out there.

If it’s new, it’s exponentially more interesting. Always lead with anything new.

What’s the biggest no-no in earned media?

Don’t go back to a journalist about a silly mistake and ask them to make a change. Most media outlets don’t have dedicated fact-checkers anymore, so some facts might get twisted in translation. Nothing will ruin a relationship with a journalist faster than asking them to edit a small error that really makes no difference in the grand scheme of the story.

What do you like the most about your job? What’s the hardest part?

I’m a dinosaur, but I still love waking up the day I know a story is going to hit in The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal and being the first one in line when the doors open to buy my copy. Holding a story in print, a newspaper, or a magazine still feels special to me. It's a tangible reward for hard work. 

Every few years, an article circulates about how journalism is dead, content marketing is the new PR, etc. So every few years, I panic and wonder if PR will exist in five years. There’s always going to be some new shiny trend. When I started doing this, people were still faxing press releases; there was no digital media to consume. So, I just have to remind myself to keep going.