Profiles

Realizing your course and staying on it to completion.
Meredith Mobley’s public relations ambitions turned reality

Meredith Mobley, Owner of Thought Bubble Communications

Meredith Mobley, Owner of Thought Bubble Communications

Being an entrepreneur is not for the weak-minded; words of wisdom from public relations guru, Meredith Mobley. And as Meredith also shared, “success leaves clues.” Our conversation with Meredith provided numerous clues, excitements and disappointments, which all led her to where she is today. Her business, Thought Bubble Communications, is only the beginning of the rest of her life, but she welcomed the opportunity to share her story.

“There’s nothing wrong with getting a job out of college, because you do need some experience. But you’re not doing yourself a service if you don’t take this time to invest in your own skill and your own talent. Your professional development should be first,” Meredith says.

 

 

Meredith’s Journey

Meredith has been a writer practically from day one. Since middle school, she possessed the creativity to write plays and stories. And though for a moment she thought she would turn to the world of music management, she eventually veered back onto the path of writing.

“In college, I was undecided. I found the journalism school and decided to go into broadcasting. But after a meeting with my advisor, who informed me that public relations people make more money, I stuck with it. It’s something I enjoy doing and I still get to write.”

During her undergraduate years at Hampton University, Meredith interned for the Virginia Zoo. But it was her experience as a Scripps Networks intern after graduation that thrust her forward into the realm of public relations. She traveled to Knoxville and began an exciting new chapter.

“Scripps Networks owns DIY Network, HGTV, Food Network, Cooking Channel, Travel Channel and Great American Country, and my internship was with DIY Network in the PR/Marketing Department. I had the opportunity to work on their big event for that summer which was the 200,000th build for Habitat for Humanity. I got to go to Detroit where Jimmy Carter, the founder of Habitat for Humanity, was. What was happening was they were doing a satellite media tour, and through this I worked as a floor manager.” Meredith worked behind the scenes and directed all on-air activities – advising them of everything from quick fixes in outfits to when it was time to speak. “And all of this happened the second week of my internship.” Scripps Networks completely financed Meredith’s trip, from airfare, to hotel stay and even luggage. “That was my first real experience in public relations, and I loved it.”

Looking back, Meredith offers,

“People fresh out of college want to have their own business. Y’all just learned how to write a press release! Get some experience under your belt. When you work a job, all that is, is paid training. So get that corporate job, that paid training. While you’re working for somebody else, they’re giving you the foundation to do what you want to do-  or maybe you’ll discover it’s not what you want to do. But you’re getting paid to learn that.

 

Life in corporate America.

After two months of job searching, Meredith landed a position with Forrent.com (now ForRent Media Solutions). And though the position was not exclusively public relations, she learned valuable skills and soon tailored it to what she wanted.

“The position was strictly marketing communications and my background was public relations, but no one else in the company had a public relations background so I had the opportunity to turn that position into my own and what I wanted it to be. That’s where I got most of my public relations experience, and I got to join PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) and be around other public relations professionals.”

Meredith was elected as a board member after only two years’ worth of membership with PRSA, and remained active from 2005 to 2010. She also served on the board of the Hampton Roads Black Media Professionals for several years. During these foundational years, versatility was the name of the game for Meredith. She became well versed in marketing communications, public relations, social media and a host of other business elements.

But as true entrepreneurs experience, Meredith started feeling the itch. She knew it was time to move, but wanted to be absolutely sure about when she should leave and where she should be.

“I had been feeling like you’re told to go to school, get a good job and everything else, but what if that’s not for me. At this point I’m just going through the motions. I’m just doing what people have told me to do. So I had that conversation with God. ‘God, what should I be doing? Where’s my purpose?’ And God said, ‘Your purpose is to be a supporter. You love doing public relations because you get to support people. You get to support people’s dreams. Your next step will be owning your own business and eventually it will turn into an international marketing consultant company.’

 

Patient transition.

Traveling back and forth from Virginia to Atlanta for the better part of the past two years, Meredith had a pretty good idea that Atlanta is where she would land, and handled her transition as an intricate process. These trips included networking meetings, informal interviews – things she also conducted from Virginia through LinkedIn and Twitter.

“I had my network in Virginia – my life as a public relations person in Virginia – but I felt like that life was slowly dying. Because I had reached as far as I could go in that position, or in that space that I was in. And I knew that if I didn’t make a move, I would be dying with it. I did not want to die when I knew I had so much purpose and so much fulfillment moving forward. I couldn’t stay in complacency. I couldn’t stay in stagnation just for the sake of comfort.”

On December 17, 2010 Meredith quit her job in Virginia.

“I got involved in journchat, a reputable tweetchat where industry professionals share valuable tips on Twitter. This put me in position. I was listed in groups including “top young PR professionals” and “top Atlanta PR professionals”. I started my own blog, ambitions of a writer (now the Daily Ambition) and through this created an online portfolio while staying on top of what was relevant within industry.”

Knowing that she would one day run her own agency, Meredith specifically applied for agency positions in Atlanta. She found a successful agency and began the interview process for a Senior Account Executive position with them in early 2011. After a lengthy process, she wasn’t selected, though the agency showed great interest. By this time March had rolled around and Meredith began to feel discouraged.

“I had placed my townhome up to be rented in January 2011, and it was March with still no takers. I had given myself a deadline of March 10. March 10 came and went.

“That Sunday’s sermon focused on letting go and giving everything to God. It was such a powerful, spiritual moment and I felt energized from what God did and was doing. The next day (Monday) my property manager called to let me know that someone was interested in seeing the place. So I took my dog out for a walk while they toured the townhome.”

A leisurely walk with her dog proved to be so much more when Meredith received a call from the agency she interviewed with a week prior in Atlanta. Informing her that they had a position open for her, the only thing left was formalities. On that Tuesday, she received a formal offer and got a rental for her townhome.

Less than a week later, Meredith was in Atlanta beginning yet another chapter of her life.

One year, four months.

After reflection, Meredith asserts, “Learning business acumen is not necessarily learned straight out of college.”

“At an event I worked recently I learned something very poignant: success leaves clues. People aren’t just magically successful. They did certain things in their life to be successful. And it’s only smart to surround yourself with people who are doing what you’re doing, and doing it successfully. Learn their skills and mentality, tweak them and make them your own if you have to – but let that be your foundation.”

Beginning her new job in March 2011 was exciting, though not without obstacles. But Meredith’s drive and greater purpose wouldn’t allow her to succumb to the challenges.

“At this point, I’d done public relations for over five years, but nothing compares to doing public relations and marketing at an agency. It was a rough adjustment because the pace is so much quicker at an agency. It’s an entirely different kind of public relations and marketing. But it really helped me fine tune my consulting – which I didn’t really have before that – and become even sharper with my thoughts. Because at an agency time really is money. Every minute that you spend is associated with a budget. So you can’t waste your clients’ budgets or else they’ll stop investing in you.

“God told me this was going to be a straight up boot camp. And that’s exactly what it was. And there were plenty of times that I was on my lunch break or I went home and I was crying because I was so fed up, I felt like I wasn’t catching on. This particular agency was meant for me to be at because they had a business consultant come in and speak on how to run an agency and finance it – everything that I would need to know.

“A year went by and God gave me another moment. He said, ‘You’re only going to be in this position a year and a half max.’ I started in March 2011, and this was in December 2012. At that point I’m not feeling as content as I initially was here, and I wanted to do something else. I liked the agency world, but I felt like I was ready for some sort of transition.”

 

Time’s Up!

On June 13, 2012 Meredith got a call from her manager. They had to let her go.

“I was actually OK with it because I knew this moment was coming. I needed to step into this purpose and I needed to start my business. At that point I had already been networking with people, letting them know what I wanted to do. I found mentors who could mentor me, specifically in starting my own public relations business. I let them know I was looking to do consultant work full time, and started getting a lot of feedback. I got my first client in September of 2012, officially named my business and got my LLC.”

 

Thought Bubble Communications

“It was rough the first couple of months. In December, I got my second solid client and in January 2013 I got my third. From there they just trickled in. Opportunity followed opportunity and now I work my business full time and I have more work than I can even imagine.”

Meredith has worked the spectrum in terms of types of companies. From small boutiques to Fortune 500 companies, she’s provided her public relations expertise to the masses.

“Initially I wanted to stay in a niche market, but while I’m still new to owning my business, not necessarily new to public relations, I’m going to be open to any industry so I can dab my feet into some and see what resonates with me and what I’m good at. To me, it’s more so about the work that I’m doing and not necessarily the size of the company or the industry. Not because I feel like I can do everything, but because I want to do everything so I can find out what I like.”

Meredith urges aspiring business owners to do their research, industry-wise and business owning specifically.

“Say you’re a graphic designer, all you want to do is draw and create. And that’s cool. But now you’re branding yourself. You’re a business. And in order to succeed, you need to know how a business runs. So if you want to be an entrepreneur, it’s a whole different thought process. Entrepreneur and corporate, every day run-of-the mill, are two different things. Two different lifestyles. And you need to be ready for that if you want to be an entrepreneur.

“Your bread and butter counts on your clients coming in. You don’t get a steady paycheck every two weeks. It’s not like you get insurance after 60 days of working with them. Any kind of money you bring in is from you going out and selling yourself and your business.”

Meredith didn’t necessarily choose public relations, but rather it chose her. And to this she says,

“It’s not even about following where my heart is, but it’s following where God told me I need to be. Obeying God, you’re always going to come out on top. When I first started my business, it was rough but I knew where I was supposed to be and God always took care of me. There’s so much more reward to doing something that’s purpose driven than there is to doing something that is financially driven.”

Public relations pundit, supporter and nurturer, Renaissance woman and just your all-around good person, Meredith Mobley exemplifies someone whom you should model your life after. And if you’re lucky enough, have on your team.

Visit Thought Bubble Communications at www.thoughtbubblecommunications.com. For public relations inquiries, please contact Thought Bubble Communications at 678.310.5197 or email info@thoughtbubblecommunications.com. Stay in the know for public relations and follow Meredith on Twitter @MeredithMobley.

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