Interview with Paula Conway
Astonish Media Group, LLC
has been producing astonishing results since 1998. Their areas of expertise are eclectic and include: public relations, marketing, branding, production, and management. Astonish's difference begins with our perspective on our relationship with clients. At Astonish they do not view themselves as your PR, Marketing, or Branding firm, but rather as your business partner. They are invested in your success and your success is their success.
Hi Paula! Could you please introduce Astonish Media Group, and what inspired you to start your own company back in 1998?
You know I found it Astonish Media Group actually in 1998, I was finishing up a master's degree at Columbia University and I had my first office on Forty-second street. It was it was awesome, but I didn't want to primarily just do theater, because I had been a Broadway press agent and that is what brought me to opening up my first office. So over the next few years my career started to change.
I was writing for Good Housekeeping magazine. I was writing for The New York Post, then I started writing for The New York Times. All while maintaining my own client base, and in 2004 I started to write my first book which was a national bestseller called The Beauty Bible.
So my background was actually shaping up not just as a publicist, but as a journalist, as a writer, as a marketer as a branding expert. I produced a TV show with American Airlines. I was the editor in chief of a national cable magazine, and Astonish Media Group really started to grow as this very eclectic strategic agency that didn't just look for PR through the lens of, you know throw it up against the wall and see what sticks, build relationships with journalists which of course is a primary foundation of what we do, but more about looking at a business from a 360 view and understanding what the brand stands for, who the brand is and how do you achieve those business goals with the media so the media becomes more of a means to an end.
And that is also, you know, we also have a publishing division, we help our clients get book deals. we help them negotiate TV show deals, we have some celebrity clients, so it really is an eclectic agency.
What sets Astonish Media Group apart from other media companies? How do you set yourself apart from the competition?
I am, in fact, a five-time author and it has been asked of me many times whether or not I plan to do another book, and the answer is yes, but the answer is also that it's going to be a very different book, so my next book is probably going to be more of a business focused book because my career has changed and we evolve, so my first book which was a best selling book, was called The Beauty Buyble spelled b, u, y, b, l, e and right before I wrote it I had been with InStyle magazine as a writer for six years as a reporter on their best beauty buys issue.
So that was what drove me to want to do that book.
My second book was a cookbook, don't want to do cookbooks again. Nothing against cookbook authors but 300 recipes. Oh my God.
And then my third book was based on the TV show True Blood, and it was packaged with offers and deals a lot like the Beauty Buyble, so I have a package in backgrounds that was very unique and different.
And then my fourth and fifth books were based on the TV show The Walking Dead and, like the True Blood book, came out with deals and discounts and offers for Walking Dead fans.
So it was a tremendous undertaking, so when I do books, I package as well, and I do a lot of marketing, so I'm not I'm not just writing the book.
So I probably won't do that again because that's a really big project, but I will be doing a business book. I just haven't really decided yet exactly what the topic is going to be specifically but I will eventually do one yes.
How has the rise of influencer marketing and social media marketing changed your work with Astonish Media Group?
The rise in influencer marketing and social media marketing, I think has changed the landscape for literally every PR firm. And if it hasn't changed the landscape for your PR firm then you're doing something wrong.
So for us, influencer marketing is part of many of the campaigns that we undertake and some clients come to us now just for influencer marketing. It's actually a really really fun thing to do. I have to say that my staff really enjoy it, and it's something we've gotten to be very good at, particularly in of all things science technology, yup, and Lifestyle, Home Goods, fashion.
So yeah we do quite a bit of influencer marketing. Social media is a little bit different. The two do overlap but for example someone who is an expert in taking out Facebook ads and targeting the right audience. That's not my agency, and while we have run entire social media campaigns for our clients it is not something that we want to do.
But separating out the influencer marketing that is something that we enjoy doing, and I encourage agencies to embrace this and really learn it, because there are very few companies now that don't need that to some degree, in healthcare less, so it is kind of ironic that we have a science, a high tech science client that does need it, but in lifestyle, if you're doing anything in lifestyle brands, you need to be proficient in influencer marketing.
Who have been some of the biggest partners of Astonish Media Group? How has your clientele changed since the company was first founded?
Astonish Media Group, as a company, has really evolved over the past 20 years and one of the biggest surprises I think is just the massive amounts of partnerships that we have done with really large brands.
So we've done partnerships with American Airlines, the New York Daily News, the Coca-Cola Corporation, Prono Ricard, Subway, The Gap, Hilton Corporation. The way that we do business is also just so unique, so on any given day we could be, you know taking a client in to meet with one of the television networks for a TV show. We could be writing a 60 thousand word book on behalf of our clients. We could be preparing a speech for a client that's going to be speaking at the White House or to a science and technology group and in the Netherlands.
It's just so it's so varied and it speaks to the tremendous education and talent that we have and again, that is really one of the things that make us so unique in the space.
What's next for Astonish Media Group? What will be your main focus for the next year?
I'm also really excited about providing more content for our clients and our prospective clients.
I think that one of the things that agencies even similar to ours, you know miss is the opportunity for pre-education. A lot of pre-education will let you know who the person is that you're hiring, and after all, we are business partners with our clients.
So who are you really partnering with? So more information on the various aspects of a brand that help the brand defines itself better present more beautifully, more accurately and more poignantly in front of potential investors in front of the media and obviously in front of consumers.
So I think if there's one thing that we are going to improve upon within the agency is creating more content that, you know that you and other prospective clients and colleagues can use immediately and get some really great quick information and also tells you a lot about of who we are, because the information is, what we teach is really excellent.
And even if you look at the Astonished Media Group web now astonishedmediagroup.com and you go to our blog there's a lot there that will make you much more informed business owner.