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Quinn PR

Florence Quinn, President

A force in the lifestyle public relations space, you might find it hard to believe that Florence Quinn hadn’t necessarily planned to go into PR. In retrospect, what’s unsurprising is that her love of the arts, paired with her business savvy, is what makes her eponymous agency what it is today. With offices in NYC, LA and Miami, Quinn PR represents a top-tier client list across travel and lifestyle brands. We asked Florence to share her expert insights after 30 years in the business, from the milestones that got her where she is to her predictions for the industry’s future. 

What drew you to the PR industry and how did you get your start?  

I had five jobs, including painting for an artist, before I arrived at PR’s doorstep. Jessica Dee Zive, founder of a small travel PR firm in NYC, offered me an account executive position, even though I didn’t have any PR experience. My first day on the job was flying to Phoenix to meet with the agency’s new client, Ramada. I wrote a PR plan blind.  A consultant, hired to train me for six weeks, stayed for two. I was a duck in water. The combination of business, journalism, marketing and creativity spoke to me as a liberal arts major who also took studio art classes.

Were there any game-changing moments or events that progressed you along the path to where you are today? 

One name – Bernard Rudler, the GM of Novotel New York who hired us shortly after I started Quinn. Bernard was kind enough to go along with our “opposites” and madcap ideas. We launched a talk-show package when everyone else was pitching Broadway-show packages. For Christmas, instead of the traditional offering to come to NYC to holiday shop, we invited travelers to come and shop in the comfort of the hotel from retail catalogs to avoid the crazy crowds of Christmas. For Mother’s Day, we eschewed the prix-fixe menu and long-stemmed rose for A Salute to Virginia Kelley, with a menu of President Clinton’s boyhood foods. The then-president’s mom was kind enough to share her famed son’s childhood favorites with us in two lovely phone conversations. We hired a romance therapist for Valentine’s Day. I could go on. They all produced massive PR, including cover stories. Thanks to Bernard, I learned the power of creative ideas and the effectiveness of doing what others weren’t. I’m indebted to him.

To what do you attribute your longevity in the industry? 

I work with smart, passionate and talented team members. I stay super focused on achieving results. I really want each win. I follow the news and culture, mining for ideas. I read the outlets we want to be in, so we can pitch according to what they cover. I don’t give up when work gets hard, as it always does. I get all the help I can. I try to push the boundaries of what we do to add more and more value. I’m curious by nature; I’m the person in the room asking the questions. Simply put, I love PR.

How has the PR business changed since you started out? 

It used to be about quality and quantity of placements. How high was the stack of clips? Now it’s about being strategic and achieving goals and ROI. 

What did you prefer about the old days and what do you prefer about now? 

We used to have fun running with crazy ideas. It was: Get coverage for the sake of getting coverage. Now our ideas are rightly on-brand and measurable.

What have been the biggest learnings that 2020 has delivered? 

We work remotely extremely well. We can stay connected with each other and our clients via Zoom.

How (and when) do you think the travel industry will rebound after the damaging effects of Covid? 

I'm afraid things won’t return to normal until the majority of us have been vaccinated.

Are there any permanent ways travel will be changed?  

We will remain vigilant and mindful of cleanliness in a way we weren’t pre-COVID.  Many of the non-touch protocols and tech solutions will remain. Some people will continue to travel in masks.

What’s your advice to your peers and industry community, as far as staying the distance, especially in such a challenging year?  

Stay in the industry you are passionate about because it takes love and enthusiasm to succeed. Have a long-term view.

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