By Michael Kinney
Everything Brandi Sims planned to do was going to be hard. From the outside looking in, it may have even looked like an impossible task.
However, to be in public relations means having to be eternally optimistic. So, when Sims decided to open up her own PR agency during the middle of a global pandemic and an economic downturn, she had to have complete faith in herself.
According to Sims, that faith has paid off in a short amount of time. With the tagline ‘reclaim your narrative,” Brand(Inc) PR has already started to build a strong list of local and national clients.
The Oklahoma based public relations agency says it is committed to helping to grow businesses and brands.
“A lot of people believe that hiring public relations is so out of reach, but it really isn’t,” Sims said. “I always tell clients, the same way you would hire a lawyer to represent you in court, you’re going to hire a PR person to represent you when it comes to the court of public opinion. Our primary role is to focus on all forms of communications and image management for businesses and public figures.”
Sims launched BrandInc PR in August after two years of working at the Lawton-Ft. Sill Chamber of Commerce. At the time, the business sector in Lawton had only been back open for less than two months since it had shut down due to the spread of COVID-19.
Yet, Sims still felt it was the right time to chase her dream instead of waiting for seemingly ideal conditions.
“I get that question a lot. Why did you think of launching a business in the middle of all this that is going on?” Sims said. “My answer is that it truly has been a leap of faith. One day I kind of just woke up and decided this was it. It was time to go ahead and branch out.”
Sims said for many years she’s wanted to start her own company. She had her MBA, a business plan, logos and a website already created.
There was just one integral component that Sims was missing.
“I lacked the confidence to be able to just put myself out there as my own business owner,” Sims said. “‘For those that are considering entrepreneurship and considering starting their own business, always go with what you are passionate about and make a plan. In previous years, I had already started the work, it was just not pulling that trigger. Everything was already created, I just didn’t put myself out there because I didn’t have the confidence to do so.”
However, it suddenly hit Sims that there was never going to be the perfect day. She saw that if she kept waiting and putting it off, five, 10, 15 years will have passed her by and it would be too late. So, she told herself it was time to go for it.
“That’s what I did and it has been a fun and exciting thrilling ride,” Sims said.
Yet, Sims knows that her journey to this point has not been easy. From her days as a publicist in other PR firms to starting her own company, Sims has had to do it in an industry where diversity is not the standard.
According to a recent study PRWeek.com, 23 percent of the total workforce in public relations consisted of non-white employees. That number dips down to 13 percent when it comes to board-level executives.
“It absolutely has been challenging,” Sims said. “The fact that I’ve worked in this industry as long as I have is definitely a testament to that. It is very, very difficult to climb up the corporate ladder being a black professional at that point, but even more so for black public relations professionals.”
Sims has seen the same story play itself out over her 12 years in the public relations industry. Not just with her, but with other people of color who she considered mentors. She saw them pushed into a box that they couldn’t expand beyond or pushed out of the profession altogether.
“I can say that I’ve also faced that challenge, whether it was public relations or it was a corporate industry, incredibly, incredibly difficult for us to push forward in these areas,” Sims said. “Given our expertise, given our education and given the value that we can bring towards organizations, it’s very difficult for them to accept and see that without placing the invisible glass ceiling on us and kind of telling us ‘well, you did this job fantastic. You’ve knocked out all of these standards. You’ve knocked out the goals. But you know, this is the most that we can do for you.”
Sim’s tagline of ‘reclaim your narrative’ came into play for herself. Instead of letting others define her limits or her value, she decided to create her path and do it her way.
“I think this is now the time for me to expand and build my own brand. I have the tools, I have the skillset,” Sims said. “So I think that with all of those challenges that I experienced and my predecessors, I think now is really the time for African-Americans in every capacity and every role to really consider entrepreneurship as a legitimate option for them.”
According to Sims, since there’s such a lack of people of color within the communications and public relation fields, she wants to provide opportunities and visual role models they can take cues from. The success and failures.
“If this is what they’re passionate about, here are the tools and resources that you need to know,” Sims said. ‘Here’s the information that you need to know. This is how it’s done the correct way, if you will. And just providing that overall guidance that I often lacked. I had to learn it for myself or I had to fail.”
In starting BrandInc in Southwest Oklahoma, Sims knew there would be limitations due to it being a smaller market. But she said the contacts and networks she has built over the years in other parts of the country will help fill that early local void.
Sims list of current and former clients include Anassa LLC, Antidote Skin Lab, Obrie’ Beauty, Concierge Service Management, author Jades Desire and Rep. Daniel Pae, who recently won re-election to the Oklahoma House of Representatives with BrandInc handling his public relations campaign.
Services for BrandInc include public relations, marketing, brand management and event planning.
Sims has big aspirations for BrandInc going forward. Her plan includes becoming the largest black-owned public relations agency in the country.
“We’re going to make it happen,” Sims said. “We put it out there and it’s going to happen,” Sims said. “And I have no room for error, no room for failure.”
Michael Kinney Media