CHARLOTTE – Public relations strategist Nicole Peternel has worked with the likes of the NFL, McDonald’s and Red Bull while also building thought leaders across several industries.
She tells executives and entrepreneurs not to hide their imperfections.
“There’s a lot of power in vulnerability,” Peternel said. “Vulnerability is not a weakness.”
Peternel makes it a point to share her struggles when she speaks publicly. It’s not about proving to people that you’ve overcome struggles but more about connecting with the audience.
Peternel can talk all day about her company and goals, but she realized the topics that make people come up to her after a speech are her personal experiences coping with anxiety.
“Allowing yourself to do that not just in your personal life but also in your work life is going to open you up to opportunities you are probably not even aware of,” she said.
After having her second child in Charlotte, she found the transition back to work to be very difficult. She returned after just two months away and found herself doing a lot of traveling and working long hours.
“I got to the point where I was having panic attacks,” she said. “I knew something had to change. People say I jumped and took a leap of faith. I feel like I was pushed off that ledge.”
She was done sacrificing mental health for a career. She wanted to build a team of women of different backgrounds, including full-time professionals and part-time moms, that supported each other while balancing their lives.
Peternel serves as CEO of Rein Communications, a south Charlotte company she launched a couple of years ago with veteran TV journalist Britt Conway. The venture combined Conway’s knack for storytelling with Peternel’s public relations experience.
Rein Communications works to understand clients’ organizational goals and determine how to best support a firm’s objectives by communicating the right message to the right audience.
“Everything we do is created with the question of why,” she said.
Peternel has seen an increase in business as more companies take the time to think about how COVID-19 has affected their businesses and how they can use communications to strategically grow.
Rein Communications has adapted to the changing business landscape by offering video communications training for companies that are not accustomed to building relationships virtually on platforms like Zoom.
Outside of work, Peternel serves as marketing chair for the Charlotte chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners. She said NAWBO is a great resource for building relationships and finding educational support.
“People will tell me that they think I have it all together. I’m like ‘oh my gosh, if you only knew,’” Peternel said. “I have all of these things that I also struggle with. I think it’s important that particularly as women it’s OK and that we share those things even if we don’t do it for ourselves but to allow other women to be able to be comfortable doing it as well.“