Not even five years ago, Maria Amezquita was finishing up high school in California — and. look at her now. After earning a degree in communications and PR at California State Polytechnic University-Pomona, Amezquita is making her presence known at Hill + Knowlton Strategies, working out of their Los Angeles office. Hill + Knowlton is of course a worldwide firm, and Amezquita has the makings of a rising star, as she’s landed on our Qwoted 100 list.
A self-described “passionate environmentalist,” Amezquita works with clients ranging from utilities to universities, and mixes her PR work with social media. Here, she talks about how she makes climate reporters take notice and leverages Twitter to gain an upper hand in her work.
Qwoted: What do you see as the future of PR—technologically, strategically, or in any category you’re passionate about?
Maria Amezquita: In the future, I think PR will use technology a lot more. We’re seeing clients ask for more data on campaigns or relevant trends. Public relations agencies currently use various programs to conduct social listening or provide clients with web analytics. I can see clients now expecting these services with any PR work.
Qwoted: What do you think you do that other PRs could learn from?
Amezquita: Before conducting any type of outreach, I spend time checking in with some key reporters who I think align with the content I’m pitching. I think Twitter is great for building out media lists and conducting outreach. You can learn so much about a reporter and what they are truly interested by taking a couple of minutes to see what they are interacting with online.
Qwoted: What’s your toughest challenge with reporters?
Amezquita: One of my biggest challenges is getting a response back when reporters do not use our expert’s commentary. While a follow-up or two is great, there are reporters who will completely ignore you until you stop emailing.
Qwoted: How do you approach breaking through the noise floor to get effective coverage?
Amezquita: I think following trends is vital to obtaining important coverage. I’m subscribed to some newsletters and follow reporters on social media, which makes it much easier to see what journalists are writing about and what they will be writing in the future.
Qwoted: How does PR in 2023 square with the future of journalism?
Amezquita: Year after year, we’re seeing how important social media is when it comes to PR. We’re seeing how, thanks to social media, a single post can spark a new idea in a journalist’s mind. Publicists now have to be aware of what’s happening online and how it’s being received. It only takes one bad viral tweet to get a journalist’s attention on our clients.
Qwoted: What advice would you give to those seeking to find an effective PR person?
Amezquita: I would recommend future employers look for a person who is an excellent teammate. To perform well for both your company and the client, you need to have someone who can be a team player with other PR professionals, your clients, and journalists. I think a lot of people overlook how important it is to have a person who can work well with a variety of teams and not just with media.
Qwoted: What is your golden rule of PR?
Amezquita: Treat reporters with respect. I think because we work with many of them all the time, we tend to forget that they are part of our team. Before sending a long and complicated pitch, I always put myself in the journalist’s position and try to figure out what would make their jobs easier.
February 14, 2023