Aside from being CEO of AlleyNYC and writing a column for you, I work on random projects that interest me. A few years ago, I got asked by one of my friends who is in PR, Heather West, to do some social-media consulting for Ramona Singer, a star from the Bravo TV show, The Real Housewives of New York City. (Full disclosure: I had never watched the show, and had no idea who she was, but I thought it would be cool to do some work for a reality TV show.)
I had an idea for her and the rest of the crew that if they took their antics online, and engaged with each other on platforms such as Twitter, it would most likely have the same effect that it has on TV. After a few weeks of doing this, it was clear that I was right. Insane Twitter posts back and forth enhanced their engagement and drove up their social traffic.
Since then, I've become friends with Ramona. After listening to her talk about her wine company and her forthcoming restaurant, I thought it would be inspirational to know that even though she plays a controversial character on TV, she is an empowered woman who is an entrepreneur. I thought it would be great for her to share some insights with us:
Q: Ramona, you are part of a huge reality TV show. How do you feel that this has helped you grow as a business person?
A: I have always had an entrepreneurial streak, exploring new opportunities when possible. The benefit to being on a network television show has opened new doors for me over the years. Not just in professional networking via people I have met on the show, but by broadening my potential client base as well. The concept of the show is to follow us in our day-to-day lives, often involving participation in charity events in and around New York or in the Hamptons. To most people, that may seem like nothing but one party after the other, but in reality, there are strong, solid business connections being made at these events. We all work hard to get to the place that we are, while we are privileged enough to be in a position to help others less fortunate. This group of successful business people, this circle of successful entrepreneurs (not just socialites as some may think of us) are always bouncing new ventures and ideas off one another and looking to expand into new arenas. The added bonus of knowing that the network will air footage of us in action is often a huge draw in securing the right people at the right place at the right time.
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Q: How do you feel that being on TV has helped your business?
A: I would have to say that the single-most important factor would be the audience. The show has loyal viewers who over the years have become loyal fans, and in turn, loyal customers. Clearly, the conversion of fans/viewers to potential clients and customers is the biggest asset being on the show has provided over the years in terms of retention of customers. I'm not saying that without the show I wouldn't have been able to successfully launch my wines with Opici or my skin care line, but by having a presence on the show, I have reached a much larger demographic.
Q: Are you afraid that the network may make you look a certain way that will affect your business negatively?
A: The network (all networks) seek ratings. That's their goal. That is their business, and as we all know in reality television, drama sells. There are times that I don't agree with the way that I am portrayed on the show, but I have always known what I was getting involved with, and ultimately, you have to take the bad with the good. I think in every industry, not just entertainment, that you have to be concerned with reputation management. I feel with a solid work ethic, the right team members in place, and a quality product, any brand can withstand some negativity here and there. That said, I am not concerned that the network will directly affect my businesses nor my brand. And in the case that something were to be affected by it, I am confident that I can turn it around into a strength and not a weakness.
Q: What are you plans for the future?
A: The show is still going strong, and the girls and I will continue to be our crazy, lovable selves as long as our fans continue to watch us. I am excited about my new project though: I have a new business partner that wants to open a restaurant with me to showcase the Ramona Wines I have with Opici. We are looking at locations in Midtown East right now - but I can't say much more than that for now.
Inspiration comes in many forms and, for those of you who watch her show, I hope this gives you another view of the business side of things. Ramona may play someone controversial on TV, but to me she is a smart, successful entrepreneur. HUSTLE ON.