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

Hi Mike, how do you think about risk?
In all things, I prefer the road less traveled. In that regard, I have not chosen the easiest career or the least challenging clients. I prefer something that gets me excited. The record industry was a challenging career choice because of the competitive nature and yet I believed that my passion for music would lead me to success and for a while it did. Artists I worked with received MTV awards, Grammy nominations, Oscar nominations (Best song). If you don’t pursue the unusual, you have to settle for the ordinary. That bores me. I love clients that inspire me.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
What separates us from other PR firms? For one thing, we’re relentless. When calling on a journalist, we don’t believe that no answer is the same thing as a “no,” answer. We keep calling. Years ago, a boss asked me if I had spoken to a specific radio programmer. When I told him I haven’t gotten him on the phone yet, he told me to hop to it. If I couldn’t he’d find someone who could connect. That was a strong lesson. If the front door is locked, I try the back door. I’ll shimmy up the drain pipe if I have to. But I’ll get our message and pitch heard. The other thing I’m proud of is pursuing the non-obvious news outlets. A client with a pet product for dogs asked us which media outlets we would pursue. Of course there were obvious news choices, but it blew him away when I said we’d pursue wedding publications like the Knot. I explained that there are a lot of dogs in wedding photos making these outlets an excellent choice.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We love the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes. Time slows down there. The property is spacious and the coastal views are gorgeous. There’s plenty of hiking trails, kayaking and more. There’s also a great restaurants on the grounds, both casual and formal dining. There’s a piano bar off the lobby and the spa offers great massages. There’s other beautiful hikes and sights nearby, like Abalone Cove. It’s a short drive to some eclectic restaurants in San Pedro. We love Pappy’s Place. The restaurant looks like a factory from the outside but it’s beautiful inside. And they serve the best fish & chips you’ll ever eat.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My partner Ileana Landon deserves a ton of credit for being my daily inspiration. I hired her many years ago to be the publicist for a Japanese band called the Pugs. Their music was amazing but they sung in Japanese and had an eclectic sound so they were not a slam dunk. In spite of this, Ileana secured a staggering amount of press for the band. For a minute, I thought they’d break through. Ileana thought I had a knack for story-telling and encouraged me move away from the comfort of multi-national employment and pursue a career in a boutique PR outlet which bears her name: Ileana International. I jumped in and never looked back.

Image Credits
Photos courtesy of Landon/Mena

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