In today’s fast-paced business world, it’s essential for companies to stand out from the crowd. For underrepresented leaders, this can be particularly challenging due to a lack of visibility in the media.
Enter Caitlin Copple, the innovative founder of Full Swing PR, who has dedicated her career to helping BIPOC, women, queer people, and unlikely entrepreneurs amplify their voices and rewrite the human story.
A former journalist and local elected official, Caitlin launched Full Swing PR in 2019 with the initial goal of being a freelancer to spend more time with her young son. However, after learning that only 2% of women-owned businesses ever scale to $1M or higher, she decided to grow her business to that level.
Partnering with Holly Conti, the dynamic duo has tripled their revenue each year, recently surpassing the $1M mark. Full Swing PR’s mission is to empower underrepresented leaders to be seen and sought after, ultimately enabling them to write bestsellers, become public speakers, and run for political office.
In an industry dominated by white voices, Caitlin and her team are making strides to change the landscape of media representation. With a focus on treating employees fairly and fostering a flexible work environment, Full Swing PR is setting new standards for success in the world of public relations.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Caitlin Copple: I’m a former journalist and local elected official who spent more than 10 years in PR before starting my own agency in 2019. Initially, I didn’t have the ambition to scale it, and was aiming to be more of a freelancer and have more time with my son, who was then 2 years old.
I soon learned that only 2% of women-owned businesses ever scale to $1M or higher. Since I had earned my old agency salary back in five months, I figured why not try to scale the business to that level.
I had the good sense to hire Holly Conti as the first employee, and she is now co-owner and partner in the business. We’ve tripled our revenue each year, and in less than four years, we hit just over $1M in revenue.
We care about public relations because of the power that comes with having a platform. We want to see more folks of color, women, queer people, and unlikely entrepreneurs write bestsellers, become public speakers, and run for political office.
That’s why Full Swing PR’s mission is to help underrepresented leaders be seen and sought after so they can reclaim their power and rewrite the human story. Only about 30% of experts quoted in the news media globally are women, and they are overwhelmingly white women. We want to change those statistics.
If you were in an elevator with Warren Buffett, how would you describe your company, your services or products? What makes your company different from others? What is your company’s biggest strength?
Caitlin Copple: I’d probably start by making a joke about how he’s from Nebraska and I’m from Idaho, both states that have more cows than elevators.
I’d tell Warren that Full Swing PR works with BIPOC- and queer-owned small businesses that want to scale to $10M by dramatically raising their visibility. Through our six-week PR Accelerator, we help clients get a taste of what it’s like to have a PR agency on retainer. We start with a PR Intensive to learn all we can about their business and craft newsworthy pitch angles and guest article topics.
Then, over the next six weeks, we deliver quick wins, some of which have included the Washington Post, Harvard Business Review, and Insider, and we help the client understand how to position themselves as a thought leader and grow their platform using social media, their website, and email marketing.
Most of our clients choose to work with us for a year or longer. These tend to be B2B clients who have more money than time, and who don’t particularly like marketing, but they know they need it. Our clients want to see PR that leads to tangible sales results.
Our integrated approach to PR and digital marketing helps clients make the most of the monthly press mentions they receive by perfecting their “sales funnel” so that publicity ends up being like pouring gasoline on a fire. Multi-year clients have grown their business revenue from $1M to over $6M.
Quiet quitting, The Great Resignation, are an ongoing trend causing many businesses to struggle keeping talent engaged and motivated. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. In your experience, what keeps employees happy? And how are adapting to the current shift we see?
Caitlin Copple: Employees are regular people and they want to be treated fairly. Particularly since the US government doesn’t provide much of a social safety net, it’s on businesses to ensure that employees can have a high quality of life, access to health care, and the time they need to care for elders, young children, or other family members.
At Full Swing, we offer health, dental, and vision insurance on day one, and three months of parental leave, regardless of how long you’ve been with the company. We offer unlimited vacation and sick time, and flexible work options. After Roe v. Wade was overturned, we began offering travel funds for those who need to travel out of their state for abortion care.
We’re entirely remote as well, and we support folks who want a co-working space and we provide technology stipends. We are not perfect, but we aspire to treat folks fairly and not replicate the things that we experienced in other workplaces, prior to starting our own business.
Online business keeps on surging higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for the year to come and how are you capitalizing on the tidal wave?
Caitlin Copple: We were remote before it was cool, or rather, before the pandemic forced everyone to go remote.
Almost all of our client and team meetings are held via Zoom. We have an active Slack setup to build staff camaraderie and we bring everyone together for in-person retreats (we call them work-ations because they are like vacations) at a fun location at least twice a year.
I had worked remotely at at least two jobs prior to starting Full Swing, so to me, it was an obvious choice. I don’t like to micromanage people, and believe that remote work is inherently more flexible, which means it is more accessible to those from historically marginalized communities.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as THE real challenge right now?
Caitlin Copple: I believe the real challenge is the erosion of democratic norms and trust in America’s most fundamental institutions. From journalism to politics to public schools, people are extremely polarized and hunkering down with folks who look, think, and vote like they do.
I don’t believe that’s healthy for solving problems, which is what our democracy exists to do. I believe small business can help save our democracy in a way that big corporations and nonprofits can’t. Big businesses tend to be slow and their activism performative. Nonprofits are steeped in scarcity culture and are also very slow-moving.
Small businesses can operate differently easily, and Full Swing proves this out. We have scaled to seven figures without losing sight of our values and by treating our employees very well.
In your experience, what tends to be the most underestimated part of running a company? Can you share an example?
Caitlin Copple: The skills that get you to become an entrepreneur are not the skills that lead you to make your first $1M. The skills that lead you to make your first $1M won’t be what gets you to your next million. In many ways, our business feels like we are outgrowing our clothes every three months.
We have new challenges to deal with, and the opportunities that come our way grow exponentially. In business, it is important to understand what your zone of genius is and what you are terrible at, and to have the confidence and gumption to hire people who will make you better and the business stronger and more valuable.
What does “success” in the year to come mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Caitlin Copple: Success in 2023 means working with 10 more amazing clients and creating a new certification that trains more publicists in anti-racism.
Public relations is 87% white as an industry, and that’s a major problem, particularly for someone like me who wants to make sure more perspectives are elevated in our news media.
We need to train white publicists to be able to work toward equity and understand the needs of clients from historically marginalized groups. We also need to create an industry that is more welcoming for Black and Brown folks.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Caitlin Copple for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Caitlin Copple or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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