People often report they never envisioned they’d be doing the kind of work they are doing today. Houston area Publicist Sandy Lawrence is a case in point. When she retired from her full time employment with Compaq she started PerceptivePR. Compaq was the perfect training ground to launch a PR firm of her own. There she was responsible for marketing, public relations, and corporate communications. She helped shape the corporate image and reviewed all public announcements about upcoming corporate changes.
“I checked all out-going messages to make sure we’d put a positive spin on whatever we had to report, and that everything complied with official company policies.
Preparation for Her Future Business
That was not exactly the kind of work Sandy did during her career as a pastor’s wife in Maryland. Yet her experience as a pastor’s wife prepared her for her first job through a temp agency when she relocated to Houston. “It was evident that God was using each step to prepare me for the next step,” she reflected. A friend found her a part time job at a temp agency where the assignments prepared her for her future corporate career in Texas. When her marriage ended, Sandy moved to Houston to be near family.
During her years as a pastor’s wife, she ran the church’s bus ministry to give neighborhood children rides to church Sunday mornings. It turns out her bus driving experience taught her how to interact with people who, understandably, might initially be nervous about entrusting their children to a stranger. “I would go around on Saturdays and remind the families that we’d be back on Sunday to take their children to church. I learned how to pay attention to the children, how to get to know strangers. I didn’t know it then, but I was practicing the three basic foundations for marketing: “Know, Like, Trust.” People have to get to know you. Then they have to like you. Finally, they have to trust you. I was learning all that without knowing it. Plus, I learned how to deal with all sorts of different people.”
During her pastor’s wife years, Sandy often helped out in the office. When the church was gifted with a computer, she learned how to do mail merges, spread sheets, and other programs what she would eventually need to launch and run Perceptive PR business.
“My role as the pastor’s wife really taught me public relations. That got me my first job through a temp agency. They needed someone who is flexible and gets along with everyone. It was a two-week assignment and they needed help with contracts. When I told the agent I knew about contracts, I was hired to stay on after the temp assignment ended. When they were ready, I was hired for a full time job that lasted twelve years.”
Sandy has a gracious away of promoting herself as well as the many clients she helps move their writing or other careers forward. When asked during an interview what experience she had with sales, she responded, “I was responsible for selling a product most people didn’t think they wanted.” When asked what that might be, she answered, “Going to church.”
From Corporate to Launching Her First Client
She was hired on the spot and never looked back. In 2002 she ended a twenty-five year career with Compaq and a week later started Perceptive PR. The fledging company started with a book launch for one author in a tearoom. Why a tearoom? The author always included a scene in a tearoom in her books. “We took a tea pot, tea cups and saucers, and treats to compliment the tea and set up our book signing in a tea room. We did this over the lunch hour. We had a huge crowd. Almost everyone bought a copy of the book. They did many more tearoom events, switching from hot tea to iced tea in the hot Houston summers.
One of Sandy’s favorite clients was a man who wrote children’s books about an escaped penguin. The penguin broke out of the zoo and travelled all over the United States. “We had so much fun. We visited a lot of schools with his books.”
Another of Sandy’s favorite clients [actually, I believe ALL her clients are her favorite ones] was a real estate investor from Florida. “He really wanted to be on national TV. He had some contacts. I had some contacts and between us we got that done. He found me because his publisher was from Houston and needed a Houston-based public relations person to help him.
Top 100 People of Influence in Houston
Sandy’s innovative approaches to promoting her clients have earned her status as one of the Top 100 People of Influence in Houston. In a city of 4 million, that is quite an accomplishment. For example, for another client she sponsored a huge craw fish boil at the University of Houston. That was to kick off the annual Off-shore technology conference held in Houston each May. The book was about a hurricane-related accident on an oil rig. Given the target audience, the book wasn’t a best seller at the conference. However, that event led to a contract from a publisher to write more books about the hazards of offshore work.
One of the things Sandy is most proud about is that “I stay friend with every client, regardless of how long we worked together. Even a couple who left because they were unhappy with the results, because that helps to better help other clients.”
Teaching the Mechanics of Marketing
When Sandy isn’t helping authors directly, she’s teaching them the mechanics of marketing in the twenty-first century via her weekly internet courses or her Author Talk podcasts. She advises, “Don’t forget the basics of marketing. Have a good product, know your audience, know how to deliver your book to that audience, and have perseverance. You never know where life is going to take you.
Sandy applied her creative marketing skills on my behalf when I launched my first novel Asunder two years ago. She helped me host the book launch at our home and then helped set up a book signing at the salon where I get my hair cuts on a regular basis.
She brings equal quantities of energy and enthusiasm to everything she does. She has clients all over the country. If you’re looking for a little extra push to promote your books, you can reach her at PerceptivePR. Tell her I recommended her to you.