New Latina is excited to present this week’s Latina Spotlight on Natalie Boden, founder of BodenPR. A highly sought after public relations professional, Natalie built BodenPR from the ground up, establishing a business model that successfully taps into the ever-expanding, ever-succeeding Latina business market. Natalie, a businesswoman and a mother of two, works tirelessly to achieve her professional and personal mission of nurturing and empowering women and girls.
Congratulations on running one of the leading Hispanic PR firms in the country. How did you get into public relations?
I got my start in Public Relations at Sanchez & Levitan, one of the first advertising & PR agencies that specialized in the U.S Hispanic market. I owe my first job to Aida Levitan , a woman who was a pioneer in what was then a male dominated sector. Aida, if you’re reading this: Thank You. I soon moved over to Beber-Silverstein as a Junior Media Planner. A few months later Aida called me back and offered me a Junior Media Planner position at a salary that made my eyes twinkle – but my passion was Public Relations. I often joke that I’ve been beating myself up ever since (we all know that advertising budgets are much larger than PR budgets!) – but PR was my passion. I was then lucky enough to convince the brilliant folks at Burson-Marsteller to give me a job. There I managed global accounts such as Citibank and DHL, working with government and media in the U.S Hispanic and Latin American markets. I was enthralled with it from day one.
You founded BodenPR in 2006. What prompted you to start your own company?
I have always had the entrepreneur mentality and come from a long line of female entrepreneurs –my grandmother and my mother are such examples. My grandmother has an interesting story to tell and she tells it to anyone who will listen: I used to stand outside the bus stop on the corner of my house in my native Honduras to sell lemonade. I was 7. I would offer the lemonade and get extremely upset with anyone who would not buy it. I would say: “I don’t understand; they must be thirsty!” I would not let them go until they bought lemonade. My grandmother will also tell you how my lemonade business was all profit, no costs – I added the lemons to my moms shopping list, had the nanny make it, and I was only in charge of sales. It was not until later that I had to learn to keep costs down.
What is BodenPR’s mission?
Inspiration serves as the main thread that ties together BodenPR’s Mission Statement together: At BodenPR we are inspired – inspired to generate profits for our clients and ourselves, inspired to grow as professionals, inspired to learn from the media realm, inspired to be involved in the communities we belong to.
I take a lot of my inspiration from Blake Mycoskie’s “Start Something that Matters”. At BodenPR we are in many ways social entrepreneurs. The more we profit, the more we contribute to the growth and empowerment of girls worldwide. As such, part of our profits go to Las Pequeñas Rosas, an organization that gives young at-risk girls a place to live, education, love and care. We are also a part of Vital Voices and sit on the Latina Initiative Board of Girls Inc., the preeminent advocate for girls in the U.S. We want to continue to advocate for the importance of investing in women – we are strong believers that the opportunity to invest in women is not only a social one, but also an economic one. Nurturing, growing and empowering women benefit them, their community, our economy and the brand that invests in them.
What services does BodenPR offer?
We are a Social Media and PR firm. As such, the services range from Media Relations,B2B Campaigns, Social Media Campaigns, Community Relations, Brand Journalist/Content Creation and more. But so do many PR firms.
Where we stand out is our Thought Leadership in marketing to Latinas. In fact, we call it investing in Latinas, not marketing to them. Latinas are as multifaceted as the media they follow as expressed here in our Meet the New Latina Press (http://www.bodenpr.com/blog/meet-the-new-latina-press.html); it is important that marketers tap into their multi-pronged identity. She is an entrepreneur, a mother, a millennial and much more. We’ve taken an inside look (http://www.slideshare.net/BodenPR/latina-vote-bodenpr) at what makes her tick – and it’s very different today than it was 20 years ago. She is the key to the growth of the country and to the growth of the $1.4 trillion in Hispanic purchasing power – and a vital component of our multicultural nation.
How has being an entrepreneur changed your outlook on business and on life?
I’ve learned the art of NO. I made the mistake early on to just say yes to everyone in order to please everyone. As surprising as this may sound it’s taken me years of practice to say the words “NO.” From the day to day in business “No, we are not going to invest in that; we need to focus on this”. To my children’s life: “No, sorry, I cannot be Room Mom.”
I’ve learned to create scalable and adaptable systems. I’ve learned to create a system from everything as from “How to Score Great Media Coverage”, to “How to Use Twitter to Engage Journalists” to “How to Set Up Your Email.” You know that saying ‘there’s an app for that’. Well, I live by the motto ‘there’s a system for that’.
I’ve learned to teach. You see, I’m a creative at heart. I love public relations, I’m a big fan of the work that journalists do for us as a society, so it was always easy to learn how to tap into them and offer them great stories. I love storytelling, which is why social media comes easily. I love helping a client reach their business goals – but all of this is of no use if I don’t transmit and teach that passion. I’ve learned how to teach all I know – or how to hire those that know it better than I do.
I’ve learned to hire slowly and fire quickly. If someone is not the right fit, I used to lose many nights of sleep over it, worried more about how sorry I felt for him/her than about my business. Today, it’s quick. If it’s not the right fit, then I make the change quickly.
I’ve learned discipline. If I don’t meet my deadline today, I’m not going to make the deadlines year end. Being your own boss means sticking to plans even if no one else is holding you to them. It’s not as ‘flexible’ as you might think.
I’ve learned to enjoy the war. Every day is a struggle. Every single day. You’ve got to enjoy it. (I cheated though – I took a Transcendental Meditation class that has helped me along.) That’s not to say there aren’t days that I feel at a loss.I try and make my way out of those moments with as few ‘canas’ (grey hairs) as is possible.
What has been your biggest personal challenge, and what has been your biggest professional challenge?
The biggest personal challenge and professional challenge are all rolled into one. I’m a mom, as many of us are. I have an 8 year old and a 4 year old. I’ve never taken a day of Maternity Leave. When my eldest was born, one of my clients (I worked from home at the time), actually said “you were pregnant?!” She could not believe it. I had not missed a beat – nor a conference call. It’s been hard and people say “I don’t know how you do it”. Well, I don’t know. You just roll with the punches.
As a Latina business owner who has led many successful campaigns for other Latino-run companies and organizations, what would you say are the top three attributes exhibited by Latinos in business?
Whether Latino or non Latino, let me tell you what comes from being an immigrant to the U.S:
– Drive to succeed – and this is the country to do it in. I have lived in Latin America, the UK, France and I’ve never been in a country that is so giving – from education, to helping you form a company, to community organizations that support our youth. This is a country that gives everyone a chance to succeed – and Latinos know how to leverage that.
– We pay close attention to where we’re from – we don’t forget culture, heritage or family.
– We are patient– we know we have to start from scratch many times and we’re willing to do it.
– We have a great sense of community – a need to give back to our own Hispanic communities, and others.
BodenPR is among the nation’s leading Hispanic PR firms. What gives BodenPR an edge against its competitors when it comes to promoting Latino businesses and reaching Latino consumers?
We have a deep understanding of the underpinnings of the changing Hispanic landscape when it comes to generating Earned Media – whether through ‘third party endorsements’ (the press) or through Social Media. An example is our “Meet the New Hispanic Press”.
We also have a deep understanding of the Latina consumer – from how she’s gone from being a super consumer, to a super producer of her own ideas, her own mindset, her own relationship with brands. We are dedicated not only to studying her from a marketing perspective, but also investing in her as a person. Last year we launched Million Dollar Latina ®, a campaign that helps one Latina a year start to take the steps to becoming a million dollar company; we sit on the Latina Initiative advisory board of Girls Inc., and more. We are invested in the women that work for our organization – from career skills like golf and financial training, to PR specific training.
That’s our key differentiator – and we’re very proud of it because we know we are contributing to more than our client’s balance sheets, we are contributing to the continued growth or our society and economy.
You’re a successful business woman, a mother and a wife. How do personally balance all three roles?
We are all entrepreneurs. (http://bodenpr.tumblr.com/post/36144511510/all-latinas-are-entrepreneurs) I’ve always said that. Whether we’re balancing fiscal budgets for a country, balancing budgets for our home, or keeping to a small business budget, we’re all entrepreneurs. We can be directing teams at home, directing teams to the finish lines or directing teams to reach a profit margin – they’re all battle fields, and we’re all soldiers – and I’m just one of them.
If you could add three extra hours to your day, how would you utilize them?
Sleeping. Being with the kids? I don’t know. Why only three!
What is your next big dream?
I don’t have a next big dream. I believe in continuing our path forward, diligently, with hard work, patience, discipline. To continue to grow the business, to continue to grow the careers of those that work with me, to continue to raise my children, to contribute to the empowerment of women.
What is your advice to established and aspiring Latina professionals?
Plan. Plan. Plan. Set an objective. It could be a big dream, but go ahead, write it down. You’ll get there quicker if you do.
Be organized and strict with your finances.
Be organized and strict with your deadlines.
Listen to your gut. It is ALWAYS right.
Listen to your gut. It is ALWAYS right. (Felt a need to repeat that one.)
You can also follow Natalie on Twitter @NatalieBoden.