Get Connected: The Maven PR Interview (On Getting People to Show Up)

Small businesses are always striving to get discovered and rediscovered by their customers. Getting people to show up, whether on the average day or to a special event you’ve organized, is no easy task. This week, we thought we’d get the expert’s opinion. Sarah Vargo’s company, Maven PR, has proven that it is indeed possible to start a new PR company and keep up with the industry giants. Her rise to success proves that there are indeed things one can do to increase the visibility of events and promote customer turnout — she has done this for her clients, as well as for her own company. So we interviewed her, to get her darkest (and most productive!) secrets.
Like many successful entrepreneurs, Sarah first worked in a field that laid the groundwork for her future company.  Working with everyone, “ranging from LA and NYC talent agents, actors, bands, restaurant and nightclub empressarios and charity visionaries,” helped Sarah build a massive rolodex of contacts that would come in handy when the time came to go out on her own.
When asked about what exactly the modern PR firm does, Sarah responds, “I would define us as a connections agency. We focus on networking and charity events, social media, email marketing, press and marketing kits, websites, copywriting, career consultation and more. We connect brands and businesses with the right influencers and audience.“ Making this distinction between being just a public relations agency and emphasizing the connections aspect of the business was of Sarah’s Aha! moments, which put Maven PR on a new course.
In an increasingly digital world, Maven PR emphasizes the personal, which gives it a unique edge over the competition. “People need step away from the gadgets more and mingle with people face to face,” Sarah says. “One thing I pride myself in being able to create a warm and positive environment at my events as I carefully set the tone and do my best to make sure it’s an enjoyable night for all. One can’t possibly experience that online behind a computer screen.”
It is exactly this approach that has made Maven the go-to in Chicago for businesses looking for maximum customer turnout and engagement. On the success of the events she plans, Sarah comments, “One strategy is that I do honor several carefully selected people in various categories with different networks. Because I am targeting diverse groups of people, they tend to draw new and fresh faces each month.” By keeping an ever-evolving list of guests of honor, Sarah ensures that the events will be attended by new people.
Keeping things upbeat is another of her secrets: “I also think the positive and supportive tone is very enjoyable for many guests and they look forward to coming every month. People love supporting their friends and coming out to support them. The overall vibe of the event is positive and all about recognizing influential leaders who work hard!”
In online marketing, Sarah emphasizes the importance of capturing customer data from the beginning, so she can reach out to them in a meaningful way. This strategy might have something to do with Maven’s continuing success on social media platforms (see the extensive list below!). When we asked her how much time a week she devotes to marketing Maven PR, Sarah says, “24/7 job, and I may even work in my dreams”. Not surprising, considering that outreach is the bread-and-butter of the PR field.

Sarah Vargo Maven PR Little Jack MarketingSarah Vargo developed Maven after working at some of the nation’s top talent agencies and promotional companies. With her at the helm, Maven PR has oragnized events with Emperor’s New Clothes, Chicago Social, Today’s Chicago Women, NBC 5 and TV stars from Bravo and MTV. Chicago Magazine named Sarah as one of the five “Top Nightlifers” in 2009 and the RedEye has often recognized her as a “VIP socialite in the know”. Sarah is also listed on Haute Chicago as an influencer and her events have had coverage in Today’s Chicago Woman, Yahoo,, Chicago Magazine and more.
Sarah is currently writing a book called “Life Is Your Party” where she compares party planning to life and is interviewing philanthropists, event planners, socialites and visionaries around the world and plans to release it this year.
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