“Type Up Your Email And Just Don’t Hit Send Until You’re Back At Work” With Carrie Simons, Of Triple 7 PR
“Don’t send emails that aren’t urgent outside of business hours. While it’s a great feeling to clean your inbox, putting more on someone else’s plate at night or during the weekend is never appreciated so if you’re trying to get ahead, type up your email and just don’t hit send until you’re back at work.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Carrie Simons, CEO and President of Triple 7 Public Relations, a leading boutique publicity firms with offices in New York, Los Angeles and Nashville. Named after her childhood home address (777), Simons launched Triple 7 PR in 2007 from Nashville, Tennessee to effectively reach media in “The Heartland” while maintaining her already established bi-coastal relationships in New York and Los Angeles. Over the last decade, Simons and her team are credited for the successful publicity campaigns of leading television brands and production companies, health and wellness experts, corporate campaigns and New York Times best-selling book launches. For her work, the Nashville Business Journal recognized Triple 7 PR with their Best in Business Award and recognized her as one of their Women of Influence winners. Simons has also been recognized as a Woman of Outstanding Leadership by The International Women’s Leadership Association, she frequently guest lectures on publicity at leading universities and she offers individual and group media training sessions. Committed to the fight against cancer after her mother lost her battle against the disease, Simons is on the board of the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation and spearheads its publicity efforts.
Thank you so much for your time. I know that you are a very busy person. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
I am the proud only child of loving and supportive parents that encouraged me to always work hard and to try my best. Through them, I became a competitive junior golfer, with my father introducing me to the sport and my mother traveling with me each summer as I competed in tournaments nationwide. Through golf, I learned the importance of focus, visualization, long-term strategy and confident execution — key components that have contribute to my success in publicity and in business.
Upon graduation from Princeton, I spent almost a decade at NBC where I oversaw PR for “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” and handled campaigns for leading scripted and unscripted series, music specials and award shows. Following my tenure at NBC, I co-led the TV division of B|W|R and traveled between Los Angeles and Nashville in oversight of a show campaign. While in Nashville, I realized my love for the city and the timely opportunity to spearhead publicity campaigns, outside the health care and music industries, in a thriving city with limitless possibilities.
In 2007, I bought a house in Nashville and launched Triple 7 PR with the goal of creating a PR agency that had the relationships of the major agencies with the client attention of a boutique firm. I traveled back and forth between Los Angeles and Nashville as I built the company and quickly amassed a talented team of publicists. Tanya Taylor, who runs my Nashville office today, was already part of the film production company that I was initially associated with and she quickly became my right hand in the business and close friend in life. Ashley Sandberg, who today spearheads PR efforts from New York, was already a superstar when she worked for me at NBC and I was able to convince her to join Triple 7 PR and expand our reach to New York a few months later. Since the early days of leveraging relationships and relying on word of mouth, we have built a phenomenal team that are true leaders in the industry. Each contributes brilliant ideas and offers constant tenacity for our clients. Over 10 years since opening our doors, I’m proud to say that I have one of the best teams in the business and we are proud of the work we do and of every client that we represent.
How did you get involved in the PR industry?
Growing up in Los Angeles, I always had a fascination with the business of the entertainment industry so when my high school offered internships, I took the one offered in entertainment — working for Davidson and Choi Publicity. While there, I saw the vastness of industries that sought publicity and was excited at the prospect of working in the field. Since my college didn’t have an entertainment focus, I spent my summers working in PR at an agency, where I handled country music artist campaigns, and later at NBC. My combined experience upon graduation led to my employment with Universal Television and I’ve been in the PR business ever since.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
Throughout my career, I’m shared many laughs with co-workers, clients and friends. Most of the stories wouldn’t translate beyond those involved or can’t be shared outside the office walls but I have amassed a stack of cards with memorable quotes that capture each of the experiences or photos that remind me of them.
Perhaps the most interesting for me was working alongside the Presidential candidates and their teams during the Gore vs. Bush election. As a politics major at Princeton, working with the politicians that visited “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” was always a special treat but during the week before the election, when the candidates made appearances on back-to-back dates, the level of coordination was never more imperative. From the advance teams to secret service, the candidate to their traveling press teams, those days were filled with an attention to detail, a need for composure and professionalism and an excitement unlike any other. Realizing that one week later, one of the men and their team would be winning the election was incredible, especially when both promised me an invitation to the Inauguration as a thank you for the work done on their behalf. I was honored that both parties were so appreciative of the hard work we all put into their appearance to offer the invitation, and even more impressed when the invitation arrived at my office. To then be able to take my dad with me to D.C. for the experience was priceless.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
To single out one campaign or client is like choosing a favorite child — it’s just not possible, especially because we have a practice of not signing any client that we are not excited to represent. I love working with clients that have become close personal friends because work is even more fun when with them, I love building brand recognition for production companies that are making compelling television series and I’m very proud of the experts that share their insights and advice daily to those who need it most.
What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of my family. I was lucky enough to be raised by two incredible parents that instilled in me values and a strong work ethic while offering continued love and encouragement, something that I try to pay forward in raising my 13-year-old, Hudson, and being supportive to my husband, John-Garrett Kemper. I’m also incredibly proud of my work family and the corporate culture that we’ve achieved. Each member of the Triple 7 PR team offers incredible contributions to the success of the company and their combined experience and daily hard work makes them sought after by clients and appreciated by reporters and bookers. Additionally, it is their consistent support of one another — whether brainstorming or collaborative pitching — that makes them truly the best.
I know your job is not easy. What drives you?
To me, the most important and perhaps the most rewarding part of the job, is meeting great people. Those who write the stories we read or produce the segments we watch are some of the most interesting and creative in our business but at the core, they’re good people with a lot of work on their plates. Similarly, our clients are leaders in their fields and offer tremendous expertise, guidance and/or entertainment to millions of people. To have a reason to spend time with all of them, and to be paid in the process, is reason enough to be excited to work every day. Plus, I have created a team that cares more about their work than most and that have each other’s best interest at heart daily. In my wildest dreams, I never thought I’d have a company for over 10 years and be looking so forward to 10 more!
Based on your personal experience, what advice would you give to young people considering a career in PR?
Pick up the phone and plan in-person meetings! We live in an age where technology certainly has tremendous benefits but the best way to forge a relationship is through conversation. I encourage everyone on my team to have at least 10 conversations a day and to make plans at least once a week. By having the ongoing relationships with writers and bookers, you’re not always asking something from them but you’re building a relationship that will transcend any campaign and building a trust that leads to honest conversations of why they will or won’t do something for your clients when you need those answers.
You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?
Care about others. I know that seems like a no brainer but when you’re looking around for the next person to speak with in a room or multi-tasking while on a call, you’re not truly caring about the person you are talking with — their likes and dislikes, favorite shows and movies, sports preferences, family, etc. — and those conversations will prove the most valuable for long term work relationships and for more enjoyable days in the office. I love talking with my clients about their passions and having fun when we’re together and it’s even better when I can introduce them to the many friends that I’ve made on sets where they’re being interviewed.
Which skills do you think are most important to becoming a successful PR professional?
There is an “it” factor to publicity that is hard to describe but you know it when you see it — a combination of confidence, poise, relatability and understated strength. The PR executives that I’m most fond of are ones that love what they do, discreetly ensure every detail is properly executed and treat everyone well especially during the most stressful days. Also, the business is ever-changing so recognizing trends and being able to quickly adapt to all situations in the workplace is essential.
You are in a position of influence. How have you used your position and skill to bring goodness to the world?
Cancer has touched everyone and certainly many close to me, especially my mom. Watching her battle such an insufferable disease and the toll treatments took on her was unimaginable. During her long battle, there were constant joys in her life and probably one of the most profound was Olympic champion Scott Hamilton. His courage and positivity lit her up and gave her the strength to keep fighting before they ever met, and after they became friends, he was always there for her. After my mom passed away, Scott asked me to serve on the board of his foundation and to help in his mission of finding treatments that fight cancer while sparing patients. To help spread his message and to raise funds for the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation is one of the most rewarding components of my publicity career because it truly will be changing lives for years far beyond mine. Hopefully one day, children like Scott and me won’t have to watch their moms suffer through the side effects of cancer treatment and Scott will have made that happen.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
1.The system always works. Often times the biggest stressors end up working out to be the best results, though you wouldn’t know it at the time. Rather than panicking in the moment, focus on the best next steps and await the bigger picture to show its hand.
2.Trust your team. When I launched Triple 7 PR, I thought that I would be “alone on the island” but that couldn’t be further from the truth. By surrounding myself with an incredible team, we’re all in this together and that’s the best part of the job!
3.Help others to thrive. Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to work with young talent and to help them to excel, in the same way my mentors did for me. It’s incredibly rewarding to now celebrate their advancement to the highest positions at networks, studios and agencies and to all work together on campaigns.
4.Work hard while you’re young. Earlier in my career, I placed such an importance on my career and I don’t regret it for a second. It led to where I am now and because of all the hard work, I have an understanding of what needs to get done for my career and how to balance those demands with a great quality of life.
5.Don’t send emails that aren’t urgent outside of business hours. While it’s a great feeling to clean your inbox, putting more on someone else’s plate at night or during the weekend is never appreciated so if you’re trying to get ahead, type up your email and just don’t hit send until you’re back at work.