Meet Carly Martinetti, the co-founder of Notably.
From working at the Dr. Phil show to her partnership at PressFriendly and the creation of Pretty Litter, Carly's journey proves her diverse expertise. Martinetti now successfully runs the thriving boutique, Notably, alongside her mother Carin Warner—also a seasoned PR veteran. Notably is a PR agency for fast-growing businesses aiming to scale, raise capital, or go public. They're known for working with Seventh Generation, Blink, WellPet, IWFA, and more. We had the wonderful opportunity to personally connect with her and learn about what it takes to become a successful CEO. Here are some highlights from our insightful conversation:
Could you tell us a bit about your background and career journey?
I went to school at UCLA and loved it there. My first job that I ever got was actually because I went to a job fair at UCLA. And there was this woman who was the executive producer of Dr. Phil at the career fair and her table was mobbed. We couldn't even get to it, but I really, really wanted to talk to her because I thought that was a really interesting job. So I waited until the end of the conference and she was packing up her stuff. We sat down and ended up talking for over an hour. Eventually she was like, well, you're going to work for me. And so that was how I got my first job. I did end up going to work for Dr. Phil. And I started out there and worked my way up to an associate producer level. And I loved it; it was so much fun.
My job there was basically to find guests for the show, to figure out what their story was, then book them or interview them, figure out what makes for a good segment for the program. So during that, I really just figured out storytelling. Like coming up with an interesting version of what I'm given that will then translate into something larger. You have to take this kernel of what you're given and then make it into something that's going to be attention-grabbing. I did that for a couple of years and then during the summer, I went back home because you don't work on a show during the summer. So I went back home. My mom had an agency at the time. She had it for over 25 years called Warner Communications, which is a public relations agency. And just to do something during the summer in between and I worked with her and the rest of the Warner team, and just fell in love with PR. I was good at it which helped boost my morale.
I ended up quitting Dr. Phil, went and worked at my mom's agency and did that for another couple of years; opened a Los Angeles office for them. And then once that was established, I thought it made more sense to go to a different agency and work somewhere else. So I started off as a very junior account supervisor at PressFriendly, which was a tech PR firm. And then, very shortly, I was promoted to partner at the firm. I just loved what I did, and it was all media relations-based. So I was pitching stories to journalists, for clients, and I stayed there for eight years. I loved it. It was a great time. And then, eventually, my mom sold Warner Communications. And at that point, once her noncompete ran out, we were like, why are we both doing PR, separately when we could do it together? So we decided to start Notably, the boutique PR agency that we're running now, and bringing us up to the present day.
How did you discover your passion for PR, and what advice would you give to students who are currently trying to find their own career interests?
I tried a lot of things before actively settling into PR. I did an internship at a talent agency in Los Angeles. I worked at ICM for a little while. I also worked at a law firm for a little and actually applied to law school, and got into law school. So I was interested in that too. But I was also super interested in pursuing a television career—doing more of a hosting thing. So I looked into that and throughout all of those things, I narrowed down, what I really liked about each role, and then what I really hated about each role, and after I got through a certain amount of those, there were points that really stood out to me as being like central themes.
All of these things, really ultimately dovetailed into me thinking, what sort of position would lend itself towards doing that consistently. And when I did get into PR through my mom's agency, that's when it was like, Oh, this is what this is. So it was an organic way of getting there because I tried all these certain things, but at the end of the day, I knew what I liked.
As someone with an abundance of experience in entrepreneurship and PR, what skills and qualities do you feel are most important for succeeding in those fields?
A couple things—One is curiosity. You have to be constantly curious about how to figure out a problem, how to solve problems, how to make things better and more efficient, and just come up with better processes. That's important. I would also say, not being afraid to fail is probably one of the biggest things. And that was something that I actually struggled with for a long time. It's just the fear of failure. Going to UCLA—everyone's very smart, they're all very accomplished. They all have huge goals. And so, you get the sense that if you don't do those things, too, you're not good enough in general, right? And so, if I could go back in time and tell myself, one thing it would be, just don't be afraid to fail because actually, when you fail, it teaches you so much. You get a really great opportunity to learn from said failure.
Then lastly, I would say creativity— that’s also something really important. There's this push towards being analytical and logical and making very calculated moves, especially with entrepreneurship. But I don't think that can really work if you don't have the creative vision behind wanting to take those steps. Sometimes I see a lot of entrepreneurs, especially those I work with, being hesitant to initiate creative PR campaigns or not wanting to do something that one of their competitors hasn't tried before. So [my advice is] even if it doesn't work, let's try it. And I think that speaks to again being open and willing to do things that would result in potential failure, but could have a really great upside if it works.
What advice do you have for students and young professionals looking to make their mark in the world of public relations and communications?
One thing I would do is look at successful PR campaigns. So, PRNews, for instance, has examples of really successful campaigns. And I would look at like, what were those elements of campaigns that went well? So getting an understanding of what works and what doesn't is important. It also depends on what type of PR but if you're going into something more in the realm of media relations—which is what I deal with—writing, persuasive writing specifically, is super, super important. So the more practice you can do in persuasive writing, the better. That can be as simple as writing a blog on a subject that you really enjoy. So just feeling comfortable writing in that way, would be helpful.
Also, networking is really, really important when you want to get into PR because it can be a tough thing to break into if you don't have internship experience. Sometimes people are moving into PR from marketing or something adjacent, and they want to figure out how do I best leverage my skills to get into PR. So I think being able to showcase your writing skills, and your creativity, and then speaking to people and networking with them to get an opportunity.
Self-doubt is common among young adults. How can we overcome self-limiting beliefs and gain confidence?
Doing things. Again, the more you can do, and the more you can show yourself that you can do, the better. For example, I'm really interested in SEO, I just think it's a really fascinating thing. And I would take classes at night just on SEO to see if I could just get better at doing it. And that was something that really boosted my confidence in being able to be knowledgeable about the subject. I implemented it in my own websites and clients' websites. So again, being knowledgeable in a subject really gives you that confidence because if you can speak to something and you know the ins and outs of how something works, no one can really stop you.
Could you provide some practical tips for students and young professionals on building and maintaining a strong personal brand?
It's important to not be afraid and put yourself in uncomfortable situations. So, if you see someone who would be really beneficial to speak with [and you feel hesitant], send them a message anyway. It's really as simple as that. You want to state your case for why it would be worth it to that person to take some time out of their day to help you. And that's where persuasiveness comes into play. So, being able to articulate how it's not going to take much time if you have questions. I would even write out what the most important questions are that you have for them in case they can't actually jump on a call and they just want to write back to you. Because even having that back and forth via email is better than nothing. If you can find someone who knows people they can introduce you to—that's always a good thing too. So look at your immediate network too.
What are three books or podcasts you would recommend, and why?
All the books that I read for fun are actually fiction that have nothing to do with like PR or self-help books. So one of my favorite books is “The Ritual” by Adam Neville. And it's a horror book about these people who go into the woods. And something mysterious is following them and you have to figure out what it is. I would recommend finding books that are unrelated to what you do as a job. Because it actually helps to take your mind off work and give you fresh ideas and a breathing room between what you're actually doing. So OnePitch’s co-founder has a podcast called Coffee With A Journalist that I really like. And they're basically conversations with journalists about what they like and what they don't like or pitches that have stood out to them in their inbox. It's really, really valuable stuff. And they do them very frequently. So I highly recommend that one.
For more exclusive insights into entrepreneurial success and industry wisdom, you can follow Carly Martinetti on LinkedIn. To elevate your own brand and explore tailored PR strategies for success, check out her agency Notably PR.
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