We had the good fortune of connecting with Meg Vesce and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Meg, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I think taking risks is a necessary part of entrepreneurship. It requires careful planning and hard work and the ability to accept that the risk may not work out no matter how much time went in to calculating the outcome. I think being able to not only be a risk-taker, but an optimistic risk-taker, is the difference between a successful, on-going career and a short-lived one as an entrepreneur. There have been plenty of times that I took a risk and it didn’t end up working out in the way I had hoped. Rather than feeling defeated, I always try to look at the outcome as “something happening for me, not to me.” In other words, even a failed risk is a learning opportunity. I have always been risk taker and find comfort in stepping outside of the box to try new ways of achieving a task. By taking risks, I have grown into a resilient, persistent, compassionate person, which translates into the work I do as public relations expert and founder of my own company, West Fourth PR.

After growing up in a rural town in Maryland, and then going to West Virginia University, I’d say moving to New York City 10 years ago was the biggest risk I’ve taken in my life. While I now know NYC backwards and forwards, I hope I never forget the feeling behind the biggest risk I ever took for myself on both a personal and professional level. Arriving to the city (which by the way I had only been to one other time in my life at age six to see the rockettes!) with a duffle bag of clothes, $50 in my pocket, not knowing a single person, and entering into one of the most competitive industries in the country, would be a lot for most people. But for me, the risk, while extremely difficult at times, was the best thing I did for my future. I learned how strong and capable I am through risk-taking and believe it has led me to where I am today- living in Los Angeles as the founder of a public relations agency.

What should our readers know about your business?
West Fourth PR is a boutique public relations, marketing and creative agency specializing in connecting travel and lifestyle brands with audiences around the world.

Before launching West Fourth PR, I had the privilege of working at Marriott International, where I oversaw global communications for Westin Hotels & Resorts, Le Meridien Hotels & Resorts, Renaissance Hotels, Autograph Collection Hotels, Tribute Portfolio Hotels, and Design Hotels. In my role, I not only created strategies to define each of the six brands within the premium distinctive portfolio at a global scale – I built buzzworthy initiatives that personify the guest experience, partnerships and offerings at each hotel within the portfolio. I traveled all around the world to launch hotel openings and has managed the PR process for thousands of openings, renovations, and signing announcements. My experience also allowed me to closely support Marriott International’s brand management, marketing, social and digital areas of business, and I use my all-inclusive knowledge to service West Fourth PR clientele.

What sets me a part is that I am able to combine a rare offering with an in-house hospitality knowledge and a “roll up your sleeves” agency mentality to provide senior counsel that goes beyond traditional PR services. I help clients with marketing and brand strategy and consider myself as an extension to their team. I ask to have a seat at their table and am the point person that leads their initiatives. At other agencies, it is common for junior level publicists to take over an account once the client is onboarded. That doesn’t happen at West Fourth PR. Who you talk to from the beginning of the relationship is who you will always be working with. Our clients appreciate that as a differentiator.

When the pandemic hit, I decided to leave Marriott to start West Fourth PR as entrepreneurship has always been in my blood. I took the knowledge I acquired from my time working for corporations and agencies to create a company that aligns with my vision and values. While being the founder of a company certainly comes with challenges, I must say it has been filled with more excitement and wins than struggles. I think because I have wanted to do this for so long that when the time finally came, I already had a plan and vision for how I wanted to operate ready to go. I immediately hit the ground running by networking, telling my contacts about my news, and it was about a week before I had my first five figure project deal locked in.

One thing that I have learned it to listen to my instincts. I have made a few hiring decisions that either weren’t right for my business model or weren’t a fit for the client needs after all. Rather than waiting to see if a situation changes, I have learned to trust my gut and do what is best for the business, my clients needs, and the employee right away. Identifying or foreseeing a challenge with working with someone and not acting on it right away causes more issues down the road. The same goes for working with a client. If the partnership and energy is not a match, it is best to part ways sooner than later to respect both parties time and efforts.

I’ve also learned the importance of setting financial standards for your business. There have been many brands who have wanted to work with West Fourth PR but didn’t want to or couldn’t pay a fair fee for the work. In the past, I may have said yes to these type of opportunities but I now have a Chief Financial Officer on staff who helps me to evaluate new business opportunities to ensure a brand’s spot on my client roster means I will not only have a chance to expand and scale strategically, but also reach quarterly revenue goals. I also have a business coach who taught me that “rate integrity” is an important part of being a business owner. This means that if you lower your fee in the beginning, there is a higher chance that you will be resentful later when you start to feel you are undervalued. Because you agreed to the lower fee, you are stuck. This energy is dangerous as it then becomes a blockage for your commitment to the client, the creativity you produce, and the excitement you have for your work. It’s also very difficult to increase your fee once you decide on doing your craft for less. It is important to know your worth and charge a fee that is fair for the skills you bring to the table from day one.

I want the world to know that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. You are in charge of your happiness, your mindset and your future. Everyone in the world can believe in you but unless you believe in yourself, nothing will change. It was not until I left corporate America and started my own company that this truly clicked for me. If you are unhappy, change it. If you are scared, good. The nervous feeling you have about an idea means you have skin in the game and should go after your dream. Listen and give in to what your heart is telling you. And never forget where you started!

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I just moved to Los Angeles in January and so I think I can answer this perfectly given I am basically still in tourist mode myself!

One of my favorite places is Malibu. Check out Point Dume or Zuma Beach for a magical day by the ocean and watch the surfers.
Bring your hiking shoes and go check out Griffith Park or Runyon Canyon! There are plenty of off-the-beaten path hiking options, too.
Go to Sunset Tower Hotel for a dirty martini.
Rent a bike and go for a ride along the ocean in Manhattan Beach (The Strand path).
As someone who lives in Brentwood, I spend way too much time at Jon & Vinny’s. It’s a must for pizza and Italian food lovers.
Catch a concert at Hollywood Bowl – this is on my bucket list!
Take a drive around Palos Verdes Peninsula – it is another favorite spot of mine. I usually pack a picnic and hang out there on Sunday’s. You’ll likely see some whales while you’re sitting there!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
It is difficult to name just one person. I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by a solid group of friends and family members who have been right by my side cheering me on through my successes and failures throughout my career. There are many faces flashing in my mind who I owe much gratitude to for their support in my career. Bosses who gave me a chance, colleagues who gave me unforgettable advice, friends who told me to keep going, family members who gave me tough love, and women in business who have shattered glass ceilings so the rest of us can climb. The list goes on.

The first face, though, that popped into my head was my husband. He was my biggest supporter about leaving Corporate America during the pandemic in order to chase my dreams of launching a hospitality public relations agency. His confidence in me is what inspired me to finally give entrepreneurship my all. I was a bit hesitant about launching a PR agency that specializes in hotels during a time when the Covid-19 pandemic had rippled through the industry, but I must say, starting West Fourth PR has been the most rewarding risk I’ve taken thus far, and I have to thank the person who pushed me to finally make my vision a reality.

Website: www.westfourthpr.com

Instagram: @westfourthpr

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/meg-puglisi/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/West-Fourth-PR-101402535011269

Image Credits
Credit: Courtesy of West Fourth PR clients

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