It’s invigorating and fun to consider a fresh perspective. To reboot. I loved my original logo and it served us well for years. But we’re a much different company today. The rebranding represents who we are now – from the talent on staff to the services we offer.
I was working at another hospitality firm. I’d been there about a year and had an inflated view of ‘self. I wanted to be made partner – like, 50/50! I really had no idea what I was talking about when it came to partnership. I just wanted to be more in charge of my life. And I knew that I worked harder than the next person. I’ve always been a bit of an animal when it comes to working hard.
Did you have any mentors or people who inspired you along the way?
My father always encouraged me to be fearless and independent, to feed my natural curiosity. He encouraged me to explore the world, to ask questions, engage with people. I was a ballet dancer in high school, and at my senior year performance – the last I would perform in my hometown of Pensacola, Florida -- he presented me with flowers on stage and his note read: “Go, and be happy.” That was it. Simple but powerful. It always made me feel ok about the fact I was always looking for what’s next, always on the move. Ultimately, it enabled me to feel I could take on New York City.
In a time of huge flux in the industry, where are you focusing your agency’s efforts in terms of day-to-day work? Is the brief from clients evolving rapidly with this change, or to what extent has it remained similar to the past?
The evolution has felt both natural and swift. I’m a visual person, so offering services like photography and design seemed a natural extension of what we do – and very exciting. Lucky for us, people are obsessed with food. The opportunities for hospitality brands – chefs, products, restaurants – to speak visually and directly to their audiences is massive. The fodder is rich, as food is a daily thing. Clients today certainly expect more from us in a marketing capacity and that has made the work much more interesting and fulfilling, and our relationship with clients more rewarding.
What do you think are the ‘hot topics’ in the communications/PR/marketing area right now?
The analytics behind what we do. Technology that can help us reach consumers in real time, influencing their choices about where and when and what to consume.
How do you differentiate from other agencies?
We get it. We have a nose for what’s great, what makes it great, and how we can champion that to as many audiences as possible. We work extremely hard and consider every task thoughtfully and deliberately. We believe that less is more and are often so selective in our approach, media complain they don’t hear from us enough. We call it the velvet hammer – soft yet powerful. It’s the most effective way to get the best results. But you have to know how and when to nail it.
You’ve worked with dozens of leading restaurants - what do you think differentiates the best?
Restaurant or product, the same holds true: having a clear POV and being authentic. Understanding why you’re doing each and every thing you’re doing. Consistency. For new restaurants, being nimble to see what works, then drilling down on that and making it your DNA. Understanding that, just like any relationship, clear communication is key.
Where are some of your favorite places to dine right now?
Oh Lordy, it’s always the toughest question. I love everything, so that makes it easy for me to eat happily, everywhere. The Odeon will always be my local (though I recently moved from Tribeca). Our clients are so universally outstanding that I am deeply fortunate to eat and drink like a queen.
Can you share a few of your biggest learnings in running a successful business?
People want to be seen and appreciated. That goes for both clients and staff. They want to be heard. They want to be part of something good, something solid yet dynamic. I once had a boss who didn’t believe in thanking employees – she felt they were getting paid to do a job, so showing appreciation was unnecessary, even ill advised. I feel the opposite. I thank my team all the time, for the smallest gestures. I appreciate that they make a choice to work here. I want them to feel good about walking through the door every day. I want them to feel a part of something more than just a marketing firm. I want them to feel they have a voice, so they feel comfortable and confident enough to talk about issues, and ideas. No drama – the world outside is filled with enough of that.