Kristen Tischhauser knows a thing or two about getting the word out on tech startups. Orchestrating the media coverage for more than 100 companies since beginning her company, talkTech, with partner Rebekah Iliff 7 years ago, she’s helped new ventures announce more than $300M in venture capital funding. In a landscape Kristen describes as “oversaturated and competitive,” she’s got a way for getting people noticed in big ways.
But Kristen’s not just getting her clients a big time recognition. Recently named to L.A. Biz’s 2016 class of Women of Influence, this PR maven is making a name for herself as a professional innovator. “I’m constantly learning,” says Kristen. “ … Helping [my clients] change the world by securing the media exposure they deserve.
What drew you to a job in public relations and marketing?
As a publicist, you get to tap into your creativity and master the art of storytelling. This has always intrigued me! I enjoy the process of finding that “hook” – that special something about a client that will bring them to life in the news. When you see a story on your client in a top-tier media outlet, it’s an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment. As for marketing, it overlaps with PR and needs to be in sync with the client’s voice and whatever news you’re pitching out. I love working with my client’s marketing team on brainstorming ways to execute impactful and succinct marketing tactics around a campaign.
Tell us about your career path from college to your current role with talkTECH?
Back in college, I had an internship in the PR and marketing department at a nonprofit called Meals On Wheels. It was there where I had to write my first press release on their biggest gala of the year, pitch to journalists along with the PR director, and also help with the event logistics.
After graduating, I jumped into a marketing position at an entertainment production company in Chicago called RockitRanch Productions. While at this company, I met my future business partner, [former I Want Her Job Leading Lady] Rebekah Iliff, and she served as a great mentor. I learned everything there was to know about grassroots marketing and branding and how important it was for messaging to be streamlined and clear. Four years later, I returned to the PR industry and worked my way into a director position at a boutique lifestyle PR agency. This is where I gained much of my experience in the industry.
From there, I moved to Los Angeles and co-founded talkTECH, a PR agency focused on bringing early stage tech startups to market. I fully immersed myself in the Los Angeles startup scene (Silicon Beach) and learned as much as I could about the space – read Eric Ries books, followed Marc Suster’s blog and became an avid reader of tech blogs. It was perfect timing since this was right around the startup boom in LA. The rest is history …
What are some of the challenges you face in garnering buzz for startups? On the flip side, what is the most exciting aspect of your work in this space?
The startup landscape has become oversaturated and competitive with products that are very similar to the next. I vet all of our clients in order to discover what makes them unique and how they standout amongst their competitors. This is crucial because this exercise helps you craft your angle/story. Top-tier journalists receive approximately 300 emails a day, so it’s necessary that you send well thought-out pitches.
The most exciting aspect of working in the space is that I get to work with brilliant startup founders so I’m constantly learning and have the honor of helping them change the world by securing the media exposure they deserve.
What types of responsibilities do you oversee?
Business development, client management, campaign messaging development and strategy, media pitching, and some marketing initiatives.
How is your day organized? What’s a favorite productivity hack of yours?
Right before I begin my workday I either go on a quick walk through my neighborhood or spend 20 minutes in meditation. This helps me feel refreshed and focused before I jump on my computer. Throughout the day, I’m generally checking emails, taking client calls, listening in on phone interviews, working on messaging or content and pitching to media. I also do many in-person meetings with prospective clients or those in the startup industry – these meetings are planned strategically since LA traffic can throw the entire day off!
What qualities do you look for in those you hire to be a part of your team?
My teammates have to be knowledgeable about the startup landscape and PR industry, very organized and flexible (our clients have pivots and fire drills quite often, so you must be able to adapt and roll with the punches). Also, a positive outlook is always a plus!
What is a leadership lesson you’ve learned?
It is important to lead with compassion. At talkTECH, we’re like a second family and there’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears put into our work. If a colleague is going through a personal trauma or feels burnt out, be sympathetic to what they’re going through and support as much you can. We’ve all been there at some point!
What are your thoughts on work/life balance?
I think work/life balance is key. Meditation and vinyasa yoga are part of my daily routine. By integrating these types of wellness activities into your lifestyle, you will find a more balanced and meaningful life – true success!
What is an accomplishment on your resume that you’re particularly proud of?
Since talkTECH’s inception seven years ago, I’ve managed communications for over $300M in collective venture capital funding announcements and facilitated media coverage for over 100 startups and small businesses.
What is one tip our readers should know about creating a pitch that stands out?
Make sure that it’s no longer than two short paragraphs and explain the “angle” in the first paragraph.
What are three pieces of must-know career advice?
- Be authentic. This is the best version of you.
- Practice giving and be open to receiving.
- Take time to stop and reflect on your accomplishments.
What is a book you would you recommend reading?
Search Inside Yourself by Chade-Meng Tan