Kristin Carpenter-Ogden on the history of Verde Brand Communications, her latest venture, and when you should start looking into partnering with a PR agency.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden traveled around the world for a decade as a journalist. In 2001, the founders of Metolius and La Sportiva called her out of the blue to ask if she would take over public relations for them. That evolved into Verde Brand Communications, which now has dozens of clients. Carpenter-Ogden’s side coaching and consulting business, Intrepid Entrepreneur, was selected as a Camber Outdoors (formerly known as OIWC) Pitchfest finalist. She wants to grow the outdoor industry one entrepreneur at a time.
1. What’s your elevator pitch for intrepid entrepreneur?
It’s about helping the industry keep innovation front and center. We were founded by entrepreneurs and we need the innovation of founders to further what we offer. Intrepid Entrepreneur was launched to be the resource and community for entrepreneurs in the outdoor market, to provide help with creating start-up plans, building a team and growing.
I’ve created everything for Intrepid from a place of need. None of this mentorship, help with resources and community was available to me as a new business owner. Now, we have access to online e-learning, and there’s a way to create a collaborative platform. There’s no excuse not to do it.
2. What’s your vision for the venture?
[Without innovation], we’re running the risk of not remaining as absolutely special as we are as an industry. There’s a reason our industry weathers economic unrest. It’s a passion-driven industry. People buy the products that we offer because it amplifies their passion. They want to be outside in nature. If we don’t onboard new businesses, we’re going to see a stagnation in our growth.
3. How do you define an entrepreneur?
I believe that there are people who are just wired to be entrepreneurial. Even if their brands are huge, they still have, in many cases, entrepreneurial spirit. I started my first business, walking dogs, when I was 9. I’ve been scheming about starting businesses ever since. Even in college, I knew I was going to start my own company eventually.
It’s looking at things the way a climber looks at a crack and wonders where it’s going to go. It’s like being a skier and looking up at a couloir and wondering if it’s ever been skied. We have a ton of entrepreneurial-minded people in this space; it’s what founded the entire industry. No one can deny that.
4. When is it time for a brand to partner with a PR agency?
Sometimes you can get the cart in front of the horse when it comes to partnering with a firm.
We work with startups, but we also have clients like Implus, Confluence and KEEN, and they’re very established. But to have a successful relationship, brands must understand who they’re trying to serve, and what that audience needs. They also need to consider the relationship to be a strategic partnership. Communication is key and expectations should be clearly defined from the get-go. If you don’t have clarity on how you’re going to get the best ROI from the agency partnership, it’s not going to work. The best partnerships come from long-term relationships between brand and agency.
Brands who call because they want to get in TheNew York Times or O, The Oprah Magazine—that’s a red flag.
5. What makes for good PR?
It really boils down to storytelling. That’s such an overused word, but when I was a journalist, whether it was on staff with Shape or for Outdoor Retailer, I took an idea and packaged it for an audience. What hasn’t changed is that you absolutely have to have a pure, passion-driven story. We have more tools now than ever before. We can see, through data, what resonates with people. It’s become more fun, and more challenging.
I love getting involved in the process from the design concept. That’s when we really see home runs. It helps us understand where things come from. I think it’s more and more important to give PR, or brand communications, a seat at that table.
This story first appeared on p. 46 of the Day 4 issue of Outdoor Retailer Daily.