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Meet Brianne Miers of Kind Communications

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brianne Miers.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I think I’m one of the few people who still work in the field they majored in in college. I received a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Syracuse University and then moved to Denver to work a public relations firm that specialized in tech. I worked there during the crazy days of the dot-com boom, and after the bust, I decided to return back to the east coast to go to graduate school at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. I wanted to do something more fulfilling and more in line with my values, so I pursued a master’s degree in public administration with a specialization in nonprofit management.

I stayed in Washington, D.C., for a few more years, working for two international non-profit organizations, World Wildlife Fund and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Around 30 I decided it was time for a change, and I picked up and moved to Boston and started a job as communications director for the Massachusetts Legal Aid Corporation. Throughout those earlier days in my career, I squeezed in as much travel as my budget and jobs allowed – I even spent a summer in Pokhara, Nepal, during graduate school volunteering with a local NGO as an English teacher.

A little over four years ago, coming off a year-long stint at a public relations agency here in Boston, I decided to start my own consulting firm. I saw that smaller non-profit organizations, social enterprises, and small businesses needed a lot of help with their communications efforts but couldn’t afford the costs of a larger firm. So I’m really focused on helping my clients get the most out of their limited communications budgets – guiding them on how to talk about their mission in a compelling way, and tell their stories effectively using both traditional and digital media. I usually end up doing a little bit of everything – strategy, media relations, social media, content creation, and more!

The main motivation for becoming self-employed was having more time to travel. That hasn’t always been the case – I don’t have a “back-up” anymore like I did when I was employed full-time for someone else. However, I have been able to take some significant trips – most notably, I spent fall 2014 backpacking solo in Southeast Asia and winter 2015 in India working for an adventure travel company. Coming off of those experiences, I became more involved in the travel community and launch my travel blog, A Traveling Life, that following summer. This year was another big one for travel – in May I treated myself to a two-week “digital detox” while on the Nomad Cruise from Cartagena, Colombia to Lisbon, Portugal, and spent some time traveling on either side. And actually, I’m leaving for Guatemala tomorrow!

Today, I’m working and traveling more than ever. Sometimes it’s a little challenging to keep on top of both my business and my blog – especially if I’m somewhere where the wifi is spotty! – but overall I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?Definitely not – which is probably a good thing. I’d like to think that I’m a stronger person for having taken a more unconventional path in life, and I have more knowledge to offer to my clients. I’ve been laid off a few times – I’ve learned the hard way that public relations can often be considered a nonessential function. And of course, leaving a high-paying job to become self-employed is incredibly risky. I had many sleepless nights, in the beginning, wondering if I made the right decision.

Today my challenges are a little different. I worry that I’m spread too thin and doing too many things – there have many been times when both my physical and mental health being has suffered. And I worry a lot about balance. With working and traveling so much, I don’t really have a “normal” life – I’m not home in Boston much, and my relationships with friends and family have definitely been put on the back burner.

Please tell us about Kind Communications.
Kind Communications provides a wide variety of strategic services to non-profit organizations, social enterprises and small businesses. What I do for them really depends on their needs – mostly it boils down to storytelling. I create messaging that enables them talk about their work in a compelling way, and I share their story through various channels including both traditional and digital media.

I don’t really know any other independent consultants who specialize in working with mission-driven companies and organizations. (Needless to say they don’t always have the most robust budgets!) So who I work with sets me apart. And I pride myself on being a true partner to my clients. They get to work directly with me, I don’t pass the work off to junior staff. Because of my diverse professional experiences, I’m also able to help my clients think about the bigger organizational picture – how their communications activities are intertwined with their advocacy and fundraising goals – not that I’m an expert in all of these areas, but I generally know what needs to be done and who needs to be at the table. And I’m a “doer” too – not only can I advise on strategy, I’m able to implement the work as well whether it’s creating content, pitching reporters or even updating websites.

This past summer, I joined Flowetik as the chief communications strategist. Flowetik is a very different kind of agency – we’re a group of senior independent consultants who collaborate on customized brand marketing engagements for local social ventures. We’ve really taken off, and I’ve been enjoying working with the team as well as with a wider range of organizations.

At the end of the day, I’m proud that I’m able to help great people do good work, and I strive to provide a lot of value for their investment. And for my blog – I’m what’s known as a “part-time traveler.” Many travel bloggers are focused on travel, and travel full-time. But I work full-time, so my blog tends to be a little more on the practical side – itineraries for weekends and week-long trips that you can squeeze in while working. I also have a strong interest in responsible travel.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I love asking people this question. I think what I struggle with is how sedentary and isolating my job is, since I’m someone who has a lot of energy and generally enjoys being around other people. When I’m working at home in Boston, I often am sitting at my kitchen table and staring at a computer for 10-12+ hours per day. Sometimes feel like I’m going to lose my mind! I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have a more active job where I was on my feet during the day and working with people – like a physical therapist or a nurse. I’m sure that’s a very different kind of tired!

On the more practical side, I think I’ve sometimes stayed in jobs for too long even though they weren’t right for me, because I thought I had to “stick it out.” Fortunately, the working world has changed a bit, and I think millennials aren’t as likely to stay in a negative situation for the sake of their resumes.

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