Stephanie Heinatz, Consociate Media, The Story ExchangeYour Name: Stephanie Heinatz

Business Name: Consociate Media, a public relations and marketing firm

Type of Business: Marketing & PR

Business Location: Gloucester Point, Virginia, United States

Twitter   @consociatemedia

Reason for starting
I cut my teeth as a newspaper journalist. Whether working on assignment in my small, Virginia hometown, or in remote areas of East Africa or war-torn Iraq, I believed one thing – stories are the most powerful way to reach people and inspire change. I bring that same strategy to Consociate Media, where I work with small business owners, charitable groups, public figures and special projects. Want to inspire change, drive business and continue to make a positive difference in this world? Tell your story. Tell it to the news media. Tell it on social media. Tell it over coffee with a prospective client. Sure. It’s public relations, marketing and communications strategies. But at its core, it’s storytelling.

How do you define success?
Consociate Media is honored to work with business owners who believe in the power of giving back to their communities. Success is when a small business owner is able to make more of a profit thanks to the power of good storytelling – marketing, public relations, communications – and in turn shares that success by supporting a charitable cause to a higher degree.

Biggest Success
Each day is a success. Success is anytime a new customer walks into a client’s business. Success is every ‘like’ of a Facebook photo or reTweet or Pin. Success is a front page story about a person I’m working with, and a brief buried deep inside a news website about an upcoming event. Success is when a business owner begins to understand the power of storytelling and emails me in the middle of the night with an idea. Success is when my son and husband smile and tell me they are proud of me.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
While storytelling is a powerful way to inspire change or grow a business, it’s also an investment in time for business owners. One press release, one Facebook post, one development of a strategic partnership will not open the flood gates of new customers (unless you have something that goes viral, of course). But several weeks and months of telling various stories and building a foundation of who you are and what your business represents will start to show results. Getting business owners to not get discouraged while waiting for marketing / public relations / communications efforts to net real financial results is a challenge. Education and showcasing white papers of results with other companies in a similar industry is how I’ve addressed it.

Who is your most important role model?
Each day, I look up to my son, who’s barely three feet tall. As I type this, he is nearing his third birthday. Yet, he’s my role model because he’s so pure, so sweet, so innocent. He’s not tainted by hate or prejudice or politics. He just wants to be entertained, to hear a good story, to smile. If you say something ugly, he calls you on it. And at the end of the day, like we all want our role models to feel, I want my son to be proud of me and to see the example I attempt to set.