HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Robin!!!!
You’re a Sports Fan?
OK, you’re right, I’m name dropping. I sense your interests run to the eclectic.
So tell me, have you ever been to Transylvania for Halloween, or stayed up all night monitoring the birth of a baby elephant? No? A baby giraffe? I didn’t think so.
What the heck does someone have to do to get all that on their resume? I’m glad you asked!
Kristi: Welcome to How Did You Get There, Robin. Please tell our readers what in blue blazes you do for a living.
Robin: (smiles) Thanks, Kristi. I am a Marketing / PR / Special Events consultant.
Kristi: How long have you been doing this?
Robin: Essentially since high school, but professionally for 28 years. I worked as a sales rep throughout college, for a Lone Star Beer and Canada Dry distributor in Texas. Later, I joined Canada Dry USA but I was very unhappy. It wasn’t my joy. When Canada Dry sponsored the US Olympic divers at a prelim meet in Austin, I volunteered to go. That week showed me that the entertainment and promotional aspect of marketing was my real talent.
Kristi: (totally impressed) Amazing what glistening bodies will do for a girl.
Robin: (chokes on her water) Sorry!?
Kristi: (totally serious) What do you like most about your work? The half nekkid men?
Robin: (can’t believe Kristi’s serious) Um, well, I enjoy being part of something special that touches many lives. But I’m an anonymous producer of sorts. I am a sampler-plate girl. I’d rather be good at several things, than be the best at just one.
Kristi: (makes air quotes) Did you get to “sample” any of those Olympic divers?
Kristi: (continues air quotes) They sure are “something special”! Were they some of the “lives you touched”?
Robin: No!! I mean–sort of– but not in that way!
Kristi: (totally bummed) Guess the job doesn’t have as many “perks” as I thought.
Robin: (has never seen a “real person” make this many air quotes) Look, if your questions aren’t more professional I’m going to have to—
Kristi: (insulted Robin referred to Kristi’s “real personhood” in air quotes her last thought bubble) What quality, skill, or both do you feel makes you particularly suited to Marketing / PR / Special Events?
Robin: I learned that I do not think in a linear fashion, so producing complicated projects with many moving parts is one of my specialties. It’s like cooking a fabulous meal for friends. You have a lot of pots on the stove at once, but everything is completed and served hot at the right time. Major projects take a big picture approach, and just like a meal plan, they have different ingredients for each recipe.
Kristi: Wow. I burn everything.
Robin: I can tell.
Kristi: Is this Producing Major Events like a 5 Star Chef philosophy something you have developed on the job or is it innate?
Robin: The initial instinct is innate, but each experience has prepped me for the next one. For example, one job taught me how to write copy for radio spots; another how to produce TV commercials and even a TV show. Having learned multiple skills over the years, as well as developing a huge network of friends and resources, has enabled me to raise the money for, produce, market and publicize a new Earth Day Festival in Houston w/in 3 ½ months. I could not have done this successfully without my prior experiences and the resources gained from those experiences. Each leads to the next. I never stop learning.
Kristi: Where have you worked?
Robin: I spent 10 years in the beer and soft drink business, plus stints running the marketing for the Houston Zoo, the Houston Public Library’s communication division, and Academy Sports + Outdoors, a major regional sporting goods retailer. In between these positions I consult—which is what gets me in trouble. I enjoy being self-employed but my clients always try to hire me fulltime.
Kristi: Which of your previous positions particularly stands out?
Robin: I loved my job heading up advertising and PR for Houston’s Budweiser distributor during my 20s. I made a huge impact on, and even initiated many of Houston’s entertainment events, some of which are traditions still going today. I’m very proud of that contribution, and gained confidence from the experience, not to mention I was a great date with access tickets to anything and everything! It was fun to be plugged in to “what’s happening” in Houston.
Kristi: For example?
Robin: I still have my original demo cassette tape of a then unknown Country and Western performer. It was part of my job to make sure this new guy, whom we at Budweiser had hired for our big July 4th Concert, got some air play during the 2-3 months before the concert. So I dropped off his tape at one of our biggest C&W radio stations, KIKK. He ended up being so popular nationally that in six months’ time he won Country Music’s Horizon Award, for the year’s best newcomer. His star continued to shine and our Budweiser distributor could no longer touch him locally. He’s Clint Black.
Kristi: Clint Black?! Now that’s what I call “something special”! Did you get to “touch—“
Kristi: Just asking…
Robin: Another really keen role was working for the Houston Zoo in my 40s. I loved being close to animals, feeding and touching these exotic beauties. I was truly happy. Even though work was a labour of love, I was around nature every day. People enjoyed the zoo. It was a happy product to promote.
Kristi: And finally, Robin, any life experiences you’d like to share?
Robin: Use your common sense. Marketing is not brain surgery. Most parts of it should come naturally. Like my PR mentor once explained to me, “PR is just stamps and envelopes. It is a formula like any other, when you have the right instinct. How you do anything is how you do everything. Just do the work.”
Kristi: Great advice, Robin, and as always, thank you for playing!
© Kristi Thompson 2009
(originally posted September 2009)