Michelle Calcote King is the principal and president of Reputation Ink, a B2B professional services marketing and PR agency.
Before founding Reputation Ink 10 years ago, Michelle was the senior vice president of a national PR agency exclusively serving law firms. Before that she held a variety of roles in PR agencies in several cities throughout the U.S. Southeast, London and Australia. Michelle serves on the Legal Marketing Association Southeast (LMASE) Regional Governing Board, and previously led the local Jacksonville LMA group.
I always learn from Michelle whenever I hear her speak or read one of her articles or blog posts. She is someone you should definitely follow.
Learn more about her in this Women Who Wows profile.
Why did you choose your profession?
I originally went to school for journalism but changed tracks midway through to public relations, as it seemed like a good combination of journalism and business. It turns out that’s exactly what it is, and I’ve made a fulfilling career of it. I went on to get a master’s in international communications and lived and worked overseas for five years after college.
What do you love most about what you do?
I am a creator at heart. I love creating things… whether it’s a blog post, a podcast or my business, I enjoy the process of making something that didn’t exist before.
Tell us about a woman you look up to and why.
I’m a big fan of Gayle King (co-host of CBS This Morning) for her on-air and social media style… she is incredibly open and authentic, but not in a self-serving way. I enjoy people who are comfortable being themselves in the public eye. I think that’s the future with social media — it’s going to be hard to keep your personal and business “selves” separate and people will have to practice authenticity and realness in any setting, whether offline or online, in private or public.
Do you have a mentor?
I don’t have anyone who I would call my mentor, but I have several friends who own small businesses and we regularly seek out each other’s advice or just turn to each other to talk things out. Being the boss can be lonely — you no longer have co-workers and must consistently set an example. So finding others who are going through the same thing is incredibly important.
Any advice to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?
I think women, especially younger women, suffer from imposter syndrome way more than men. When you are just starting out, it’s important to realize how much those around you are also “winging it” and to have confidence in your intelligence and capabilities. It can be a shock to realize how all those “adults” that you looked up to don’t really know what they are doing. But that can be empowering, too.
What do you wish you could tell your younger self?
To buy Apple stock and not buy a house in 2007 (kidding). On a serious note, it would be to find a niche and develop deep expertise in that niche. Early in my career I moved quite a bit — to London, then Australia, then North Carolina, Alabama and finally Florida. While the experience was rewarding and exciting, I believe my career suffered somewhat as I didn’t have focus, and I was constantly reinventing my network and connections. With today’s social media, that experience might be different. However, the lesson remains that if you want to make an impact today, you must develop a niche and build a strong, but focused, network.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Leaders are readers. I believe my commitment to reading business books has boosted my career more than any other thing.
How do you achieve work/life balance?
I work from a home office and set my own hours 🙂 Aside from that, I’ve always been a big believer in work-life balance and have made that a key value for Reputation Ink. That means employees have just as much freedom and autonomy as I do in terms of how they structure their day (when and where they get their work done) and we have plenty of time off.