Meet the Latina team behind PR Influence, an agency that helps companies take their brands to the next level

Photo courtesy of Instagram.

The pandemic had a lasting impact across many industries and professionals, forcing entrepreneurs, workers, and business leaders to pivot their plans and reinvent their career paths to survive and operate effectively.

Call it happy accidents, a series of unfortunate events, or reinvention at its finest, but that’s exactly how things turned out for the co-founders of The PR Influence. It is a modern PR, social media and brand development service agency which was launched during quarantine to help brands better reach their audiences in this ever-changing cultural landscape.

PR Influence’s Cuban-American co-founders Carolina Gonzalez and Claudia Vilches had one mission then and still do today: to help companies take their brands to the next level with unparalleled service and personalized management at 360°. These Latinas are innovative, ambitious and driven by a passion deep in their bones, a passion they attribute to their roots and what it took to get them where they are today.

PR influence is all about helping clients connect with their audience in a variety of ways, from branding and graphic design (think logo development, web content and marketing) to social media relations (which platforms to be on and what kind of content to post) and event activations (influencer events, networking events, collaborations, etc.) . They really do do it all, which is the point and what first inspired Claudia and Carolina to start their business.

honor the roots

Having both grown up in Miami, Claudia and Caro were keenly aware of what their families had sacrificed for them and future generations. “We both come from similar backgrounds. Carolina was born in Cuba and I am a first-generation Cuban-American,” Claudia said. BeLatina. Their families had to give up so much to give them the childhood they had. With this in mind, Claudia and Caro have always been determined to ensure that these efforts are not in vain.

It seems creativity was a passion they both shared, but only bonded when they met in a production role later in life. “I grew up in a very creative environment and started working for a production company, where I met Carolina,” Claudia said. “We’ve always been a dynamic duo, and when that job didn’t work out, Carolina applied for her master’s degree at NYU, and that’s how we ended up in New York together.”

Make the best of an unexpected situation

The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent quarantine period have been both a blessing and a curse for Claudia and Caro. They had both just moved to New York because Claudia had been accepted into the master’s program in public relations at NYU.

“We literally filled up a van with less than a month’s notice and moved to New York so I could start at NYU,” Carolina explained. “We arrived in New York and settled in and we had both just gotten jobs in March 2020 when the pandemic hit. When those jobs were literally taken off our feet, we scrambled and had to find a way forward. We took our passions and brought The PR Influence to life. We knew we absolutely loved social media, graphic design and communications. So we decided to launch an agency it could be a one stop shop for brands.

They launched The PR Influence out of their shared apartment during quarantine, literally creating a brand as the world was shut down and they were stuck at home trying to figure out what to do next.

Was it a difficult time? Absolutely. Was it full of struggles and suffering? Without a doubt. But “sometimes the things you least expect end up being the experiences that shape your life the most,” Caro said.

“We suffered as much as any other company we worked with at the start of the pandemic. We were doing a lot of favors [by] taking huge pay cuts and working 16 hour days to help other business owners who were going through their own tough times and trying to make ends meet. Looking back, I don’t think we would change anything, even in these tough times, because we were able to help other brands that needed it most while building a brand for ourselves.

An inspiring adventure

Claudia agrees that several things have helped propel them to where they are today, running their own business and taking ownership of their roles as Latino leaders and entrepreneurs. First, they were inspired by other Latino leaders who really gave them the courage to pursue their own business. And second, they knew their skills were needed.

“What drove us was a mix of necessity and talent – we already knew what we did well and what we knew professionally. Ironically, we were forced to stay home (during quarantine), but that left us helped because we had nothing else to do and nowhere to go. Our goal was to elevate our brand and get our business off the ground,” said Claudia.

The road has not been easy. The duo struggled with time management and the day-to-day juggling of getting all the work done to ensure they met their clients’ needs. As best friends, roommates and co-founders of their business that they run together every day, the responsibility and separation in their routines has also been a challenge.

When challenges are the best teachers

They also encountered obstacles as Latin business leaders trying to establish their expertise in the world of public relations.

The pressures come from external as well as internal sources. As Latino entrepreneurs, “we put so much pressure on ourselves, especially because we’re first-generation Cubans. I immigrated here when I was six,” Caro explained. “Thinking about our families who had to give up so much and make such a change to come here to America to find a better home and find better opportunities, I want to make sure the women who came before me see that their sacrifices were not in vain.

She also sees it as an opportunity to lead by example and pave the way for Latinas who will come after her, so they know they can do whatever they want. Claudia went through similar struggles to prove herself. It’s a constant struggle that people wonder how serious or important a career path is, she explained.

But they grew and learned a lot along the way.

Today, as the world begins to feel relatively more normal, at least as far as the pandemic is concerned, The PR Influence continues to move forward and grow with each new experience. Almost two years after launching their agency, Claudia and Caro have certainly learned a lot. They are excited to pay it forward and share their wisdom with other Latinas who are considering starting a business.

Future plans include scaling their business to continue delivering unparalleled attention to every customer and ensuring they touch every aspect of the digital world. The ultimate goal is to have an agency where brands don’t have to go anywhere else to fulfill their branding and PR needs. They also focus on working collaboratively with other Latinas in the PR world, rather than seeing each other as competitors. The goal, they explained, is to support other Latinas and help elevate what everyone is trying to do to be successful. “We are all here to build community,” Claudia said.

Their best advice for other Latinas who are considering their own business and want to start their own business? “Don’t take things personally. Business is business. We learned that the hard way,” Carolina said. And listen up everyone, Claudia continued. “You can always learn from anyone; it doesn’t matter if they are older or younger or have more or less experience than you. Listen to everyone’s ideas and consider their thoughts.

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