Q&A with Katie Garagozzo: PR pro with a knack for adventure

KG.jpgWhen we sat down with Bateman Group senior associate Katie Garagozzo for a Q&A, we knew it would be a good time. When Katie’s not too busy working with the clients she loves, you can usually find her bustin’ out her Miley Cyrus dance moves or casually making conversation in jean overalls. Often the source of everyone’s laughter, Katie brings a unique style and genuine work ethic to Bateman, having worked at the agency for nearly three years. We know you’re dying to know more about this talented and brilliant PR girl from San Jose, so here’s Katie’s story.

How did you become interested in PR?

I majored in public relations at Gonzaga University in Washington State. I pursued journalism at first and took your basic communications classes. There was a specific course in PR that specifically piqued my attention because it mixed the influence of media with the creativity and strategy that always intrigued me. I found that PR fused those elements together, and as I began taking more classes that put me in real-world situations where I was practicing PR, it was a great affirmation that I really enjoyed the work. I was able to work with various nonprofits in the Spokane area, and felt accomplished in what I was doing and helping my then-clients achieve. Before I came to Bateman, I was working as an Account Coordinator for Blanc & Otus. It was my first “big kid” job out of college, where I started as an intern and was hired into the company full-time. The learning process was valuable, and affirmed that I wanted to commit to PR.

What made you come to Bateman?

I was at Blanc & Otus for about a year and a half when a former colleague who landed a job at Bateman approached me about the company. During interviews, I met almost the entire team (at the time, there were only about 11 or 12 people!) and it was clear that my style of work and goals would be a fit. Bateman’s culture of collaboration, creativity and strategy shined through, and I admired their sense of community, the work they produced and the client roster. That initial authenticity has carried through as we’ve grown as a company, and today everyone from account coordinators to senior management work together to come up with new and exciting strategies. It’s been truly unique to see the company grow so successfully.

Tell us something about yourself that would surprise most people.

I wear my heart on my sleeve and don’t have too many secrets of my own (though I will always honor an embargo). Most people who know me well know that I’m slightly introverted and need my solo recharge time. You probably wouldn’t guess it if you didn’t know me, since I’m pretty outgoing! An interesting fact people probably don’t know is that my grandfather’s family name is Dickens. We’ve been trying to trace our roots back to Charles Dickens since.

How did you end up in SF?

I’m originally from San Jose and have gradually been making my way up through the Bay Area. At one point, I had a nasty commute from the South Bay that involved me switching from my bike to Caltrain for three hours a day. After a year and a half of that, I got serious about my apartment hunt. I moved up to SF when I started at Bateman, and I’m in love with it. There’s always so much to do and never a dull moment in this city. Nature is right at your doorstep, and amazing food, obviously.

What kind of hobbies do you have outside of work?

Recently, I’ve been getting into photography. I’ve always been inspired to be creative, and it had been a while since I tried anything new, so a few weekends ago, I took the ferry to Sausalito and checked out the city. (To my pleasant surprise, there was a full bar on the ferry.) I walked around the town and took tons of photos of a community garden, a weird house boat commune, and the interesting architecture I saw. I’ve never really had any formal photography training, so I’m not going to say the photos were masterpieces…but I’m slowly learning!

What makes you tick?

I hate being stagnant and being in a complacent, nothing zone. Whether it’s in my personal life or professionally, if I don’t see progress towards some end-goal, it drives me crazy. I try to make sure there’s always something happening, because crossing things off my to-do list feels great.

What is the best dish you can cook?

I love experimenting in the kitchen – I’ve been trying to cook new foods from different cultures, which has been really fun. I’m always on the hunt for the most authentic restaurants I can find. On the dessert side, I have this amazing secret brownie recipe passed down from my mom. She calls it her “special brownies” (not that kind) and they will ruin any other brownie you will ever have again. They’re this amazing mix of sweet and salty, caramel and chocolate.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I get told that I look like Miley Cyrus more often than is comfortable, so obviously I’ve mastered her sweet dance moves. I’m also really good at accents and impressions. Growing up, my best friend was Indian and after I since I spent a ton of time at her house and with her parents, I picked up her accent really fast. It grew from there, and every once in a while, I’ll bust out my accents for a laugh.

What advice can you offer to aspiring PR professionals?

Find a job that makes you curious and keeps your interest. You want to be passionate about what you do, because you’ll spend time with it day in and day out. You should always have that little spark inside of you that keeps you hooked, no matter what’s going on. You should be creative and don’t be afraid to think big, but never devalue the power of hard work. Keep your mind open to new ideas, and know that your work will speak for itself.

 

BATEMAN GROUP’S CLIENT SPOTLIGHT 8.22.2014

From major funding announcements to new partnerships, Bateman clients have been busy in recent weeks, garnering extensive news coverage.  Lookout’s $150 million funding announcement was featured in Bloomberg, among others. Ticketfly’s recent acquisition of WillCall attracted heaps of coverage, including in TechCrunch. In a piece covering changes to the Facebook Messenger App, Huffington Post turned to data from App Annie. Meanwhile, Forbes joined a chorus of press to feature a  Xamarin’s $54 million funding round. The National Retail Federation Magazine discussed Trek Bicycle Corporation’s re-targeting success with AdRoll. Also, Multichannel Merchant published a byline featuring Sitecore’s vice president of product marketing, Mark Floisand.

Lookout Nabs $1 Billion-Plus Valuation in New Financing,” Bloomberg –  On August 13, Lookout revealed $150 million in funding. Bloomberg published an article covering this funding announcement along with a discussion of the company’s background.

Concert Giant Ticketfly Acquires Last-Minute Ticket App WillCall,” TechCrunch – Ticketfly acquired WillCall, a concert discovery and in-venue purchasing app on Thursday. Together, the companies have a vision to reinvent the live event experience using mobile technology. Soon when you go to a concert, the only thing you’ll need to bring is your phone.

The Real Reason Facebook Is Forcing You To Download Messenger,” Huffington Post – In a piece regarding recent changes to Facebook Messenger, Huffington Post cited data from App Annie’s June 2014 Apps Index. App Annie’s data about Facebook applications was used to explain Facebook’s recent attempts to acquire additional mobile applications.

Xamarin Raises $54 Million–Because M&A… And Mobile” Forbes – Xamarin raised the largest funding round ever of any company in the cross-platform app development space on Thursday with its $54 million Series C. Ben Kepes of Forbes called the company “the holy grail for developers”, and advised readers to “watch this space.”

Follow That Shopper: Bicycle Manufacturer Targets iPad Users for App Download,” National Retail Federation: STORES Magazine – NRF’s Sandy Smith took a look at Trek Bicycle Corporation’s re-targeting success with AdRoll, highlighting AdRoll’s strategy, leadership, and results. AdRoll President and CMO Adam Berke also offered his advertising insight.

The Future of Ecommerce: Beyond Facebook, Beyond Convenience,” Multichannel Merchant – In a byline published by Multichannel Merchant, Sitecore’s vice president of product marketing, Mark Floisand, shared insights into the future of e-commerce, citing the instant economy, personalization and data as key factors to improving customer experiences online.

When Sponsored Content Trumps Publishers’

Admit it. You’ve read a story that you knew to be sponsored content and you liked it. I’ve actually read a bunch of them, and liked them a lot. I found that they can be better conceptualized, researched and written than, well, cash-strapped publisher media (more on that later).

Also, I don’t feel like some perversion of my reading tastes happens. Nor do I fear growing dumber by the day while being drawn to consuming ads. I’ve even done the unimaginable and — gasp, the horror! — shared them with colleagues and friends.

What’s known as “sponsored content” or any number of other monikers often gets a bad name. Detractors call it corporate propaganda, at worst, and lightweight advertorial, at best. Here’s to saluting a contrarian case: its promise of better journalism.

Between big media’s existential woes and the rise of new online empires, the opportunity for sponsored content looms larger than ever. It has growing corporate funding to back stories that publishers might do but can’t afford to pursue. The media business is optimized for sponsored content as companies pump resources into it while traditional publishers fall into disarray.

Big Media’s Fall

It’s no secret that traditional media giants face a new world order ruled by the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Buzzfeed, Gawker, Vox and Vice Media — all taking sponsored content to the bank. Investors are jumping into new publishers while old media giants are spinning off troubled print assets from better-performing digital divisions.

In the past few weeks alone, The Tribune Co. (publisher of the Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune), EW Scripps and Gannett (publisher of USA Today and 81 other newspapers) all announced moves to spin off their print properties into separate public entities. The nation’s largest magazine publisher, Time Inc., in June was spun off as a public unit separate from the more profitable Time Warner division. The moves come after News Corp., publisher of The Wall Street Journal, last year spun off publishing from its media unit, 21st Century Fox, which pumped a $70 million investment into Vice Media. Separating more-profitable digital units puts even more pressure on print.

The new print spinoffs mark the beginning of the end for these businesses. Expect fewer journalists in this new publishing era.

Native Ad Budgets

While traditional media is struggling for growth, it’s also working with sponsored content to grab more ad dollars by running native ads. In the past year, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today all ran such sponsored content campaigns.

An example of sponsored post by Netflix in the New York Times.

 

Yet traditional publishers can’t match new digital publishers nor Facebook and Twitter as attractive platforms. Facebook now has unsurpassed influence with its 1.32 billion users as a gatekeeper to distribute news, gaining steam as people share and “like” stories among its audience. Ditto Twitter. Here’s a statistic to ponder: the market value of the parent companies of USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times combined doesn’t equal that of Facebook.

Publishers such as Vice and Buzzfeed, which have mastered social networks for traffic benefits, have enormous in-house editorial units dedicated to sponsored content. Many news companies have figured it out that Internet traffic comes from Facebook and Twitter, which are making an increasing pile of revenue from sponsored content. If SEO was the game of the past decade, social optimization is this decade.

Ad dollars are following social. In May, Facebook struck an advertising deal with Publicis reported to be worth $500 million for ad units on the social behemoth and Instagram.  The same month, Omnicom struck a $230 million deal with Twitter for mobile advertising. Expect this trend to continue at an accelerated pace, especially once Facebook and Instagram kick sponsored videos into high gear and vacuum up TV ad dollars.

Great Sponsored Content

Amid the dustup in media and ad spending, some truly compelling sponsored content has emerged that owes its existence to the changing times. My favorite sponsored content right now is coming from Medium, founded by Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone.

Last month, Medium launched re:form in partnership with BMW. Re:form does fantastic stories about design, and it’s the first revenue model to emerge from Medium. What I find fascinating about the stories from re:form is that they are unusually well conceived, provoke thoughts and discussions and even suggest action.

There are already many stories in Medium’s re:form campaign that expand the consciousness about the world of designed things we live in. My personal favorite so far is The Epic Fail of Baby Car Seat Design, which points out how flawed the designs are in baby car seats and flies in the face of statistics that point to fatalities and user installation errors.

The re:form piece shifts responsibility, rightly so, onto the makers of baby car seat rather than the people using them. It issues a call to action to entrepreneurs everywhere to solve this problem by designing better baby car seats, citing a market need. It’s smart design analysis, creative, and evergreen content — and it’s doubtful it would ever originate from a cash-strapped publisher.

BMW simply puts its logo on the content, but the associated content speaks volumes about what the automaker stands for: thoughtful, contrarian and innovative approaches to design. I don’t drive a BMW — far from it — but even this piques my interest on the company’s thinking about design.

Bateman’s Backswings Take Over Urban Putt

Last week, Urban Putt hosted Bateman Group for an offsite afternoon filled with argyle sweaters, food, cocktails and 14 challenging holes of indoor mini-golf. The competition was fierce with Kristin winning first place for best score. Her impressive golf skills netted her the lowest score! Cristina and Paula’s preppy golf attire also earned them awards for best dressed. The relaxing summer afternoon capped off with delicious pizza and cocktails in Urban Putt’s bar and private loft room.

Congrats to the champ, Kristin, for her PGA tournament level performance.

 

Urban Putt, located in the heart of the Mission District, is San Francisco’s first and only indoor miniature golf course. The course consists of 14 crafty holes designed by 65 imaginative designers.

 

Cristina (first photo, left) and Paula (second photo, middle) sport their prizewinning outfits.

 

Bateman Group enjoyed delicious food and cocktails after a strenuous afternoon on the green.

Thank you Jennifer for planning a fantastic event!

 

Lessons from the Most Interesting Summer Jobs at Bateman Group – Part 5

With some fresh new faces, we’re renewing the “Most Interesting Summer Job” Series at Bateman Group. In this post, Scott Martin, Matt Coolidge and Paula Cavagnaro …

This is part of a series profiling the most interesting summer jobs of the Bateman Group inspired by the AdAge article “Guess Which Adman Used to Be the Kool-Aid Man.” The series started two summers ago in 2011 (see Bateman Summer Jobs Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4).

Matt Coolidge

Account Manager

Job: Poverty Change Agent (read: I held a clipboard on busy downtown streets for 8+ hours a day and tried to make you feel bad about the fact that you weren’t helping feed needy children in the developing world…)

Lesson Learned: Perseverance is key — and learn to make your case in a concise, compelling manner

That’s right, I was that guy… You know the one. Picture this: You’re walking down the street at lunch hour, savoring those precious few moments to yourself, not surrounded by crazed co-workers and demanding bosses — when all of a sudden, a way-too-perky 20-something jams a clipboard in your face and says something like, “Hey smiley! I can just tell by the look on your face that you’re the type of person who wants to make a difference in a Guatemalan child’s life for only 25 cents a day!”

Yep, that was me… And let me tell you, that is the most demoralizing, soul-crushing job I’ve ever had (and this coming from somebody who also once spent a summer cutting up fresh fish in a dark, dingy back room at a cheap seafood restaurant). You’re lucky if you can get two, maybe three people to stop and talk to you during a full eight-hour day — all while your demanding, throwback-to-Cold-War-era-Eastern-Europe taskmaster of a boss is constantly hovering in the background and chiding you for not standing up straight enough or not keeping a smile constantly glued to your face.

I’m not going to say that I particularly liked that job (shocker, I know), nor will I claim to have lasted more than four weeks at it (I didn’t – but by that time I was actually the second-most tenured in an office of 15+ people. Turnover is, unsurprisingly, quite high there). That said, I don’t think there was a better way for me to get a crash course in how to make a compelling, convincing pitch to an otherwise disinterested audience, and convince them to take a closer look at a topic they may not have otherwise cared about.

I guess it was no surprise that after that, PR was a pretty easy fit for me. While pitching media can always be a challenge, it’s a PR person’s job to be able to make a convincing case for a given topic/client — and after what I dealt with holding my clipboard and making pleas for the children, pitching the media was far less intimidating than it otherwise would have been (though I will say that it’s still probably a wash in terms of who could come up with the coldest, most brusque responses when they’re not interested in talking, the general public or the media…).

Scott Martin

Director of Content and Media Strategy

Job: Newspaper carrier

Lesson Learned: Rise early, anticipate shenanigans and use alcohol as advantage

I delivered the San Francisco Chronicle in Palo Alto when I was 13 years old, a summer job that should have scared me about more than just my neighbors.

At first, folding newspapers, snapping on rubber bands and stuffing them into a fat double bag worn front and back like a sandwich board was an adventure at 5:00 a.m. I’d bomb the block on my BMX bike and finish by dawn covered in black ink after lofting papers at doormats.

The fun soon ended. My $45 monthly salary required collecting payments by knocking on doors. This was troublesome for many reasons. Collecting money wasn’t easy as a shy, pubescent teen with a cracking voice. Plus, the extra work had me earning well under $1 per hour. But worse than all of that were my neighbors. If they weren’t drunk by 7:00 p.m., they inevitably lied about losing their checkbook, and I uncomfortably pretended to understand. Return visits usually met with some hiding in the house. I learned fast about the art of bill dodging and a general lack of good will toward the newspaper business.

I learned to adapt to Palo Alto’s dodgy news consumers. My “not in my backyard” neighbors across the street were the most difficult case. They were a cranky older couple obsessed with their rose gardens, which I would bat tennis and whiffle balls through with my brother on a regular game schedule. Pink-faced, the elderly man would bark at us, and whenever a home run landed one in his backyard, we’d have to alternate who would have to grab the ball and run. The trick at collecting money at their house, I would learn, was coming a little later, when the old man was slurring in front of the TV. The wife was usually rambling and sloppy by then, and if I played my cards right — listening to some incoherent babble and nodding — I’d land a $5 tip.

Still, by the end of any month I was lucky to net $30 for delivering the paper seven days a week, owing to Palo Alto’s deadbeats and the San Francisco Chronicle’s dicey business. This all should have been a red flag as to what lies ahead for an ink-stained, wretch working overtime in the newspaper business. If it wasn’t apparent then, it surely is many years later having worked in the news business most of my career.

Despite it all, I learned early some important business takeaways: Rise early, anticipate shenanigans and use alcohol to your advantage.

Paula Cavagnaro

Vice President

Job: Recruit 4,000 volunteers to build a playground

Lesson Learned: When people understand their individual contributions, the collective can do BIG things

As I graduated from University of California, Santa Barbara in the summer of 1993, I was careful not to get too crazy with the celebration. I was one of the “lucky” ones. Instead of taking off for a fun-filled backpacking trip across Europe, I had received a position right out of school, and it required me to start the summer just after graduation (well, actually the very morning after graduation for a 7:30 a.m. staff meeting). That summer would be spent getting to know the community of Santa Barbara as I worked hard recruiting her citizens to build a playground called Kid’s World.

The 8,000-square-foot playground was scheduled to open in November, and as of June, it had about 10 percent of the volunteer force needed to successfully build what would later be referred to by the LA Times as a Monument of Play. My job was to find the other 90 percent of the volunteers needed, and then schedule them and keep them engaged for the months leading up to the build, when I would need to manage their roles and contributions on site.

For the community playground to be built, we needed a total of 4,000 volunteers including, people responsible for child care, food preparation, builders, electricians, craftsman, artists and more would be needed, per the community engineers’ instructions. In addition to having people on hand, much of the hardware, wood and tools also needed to be sourced and donated to support the goal of the playground being a project for and by the community of Santa Barbara.

Needless to say it was a herculean effort and many of the tricks I learned that summer are still useful to me today, from mail merge to desk-top publishing tricks to database management and promotional strategies—not to mention how to use a power sander, pictured here. However, after recruiting, inspiring and coordinating 4,000 people, the most important lesson I learned was that if you can give each individual person on a team an understanding of how their individual contribution fits into the big picture, you can collectively achieve great things together.

The playground was created for children in the Santa Barbara community by people who loved their city and knew they could make a difference in their community by working together. Twenty years later, it has brought tens of thousands of children delight as a place where their imaginations and boundless energy can expand.

Q&A with Briana Marshall: A different breed of PR rockstar

Braian for Banter.jpgMeet Vermont-gone-San Francisco girl Briana Marshall. If you’re ever in the Bateman Group  office, she’s easy to spot by her energetic attitude and an infectious laugh that puts a smile on everyone’s face. It’s safe to say Briana is one cool chick, but she’s more than your average PR rockstar. Briana brings a different background of strengths and talent to the Bateman team. Clients love her and we do too, so we were curious to know more. Briana took some time out of her day to share her story here:

How did you become interested in PR?

I don’t come from a traditional public relations background. I went to Williams, a liberal arts college, then went on to management consulting directly after graduation. I worked on both federal and commercial projects, from the mental health department of the Department of Defense to pharmaceutical companies. I really enjoyed what I did, but after spending some time working in D.C., I realized that it wasn’t the place for me. I didn’t want to pursue a career in government or politics, and that’s when I felt the tug of creativity and innovation in San Francisco. It was quite the pendulum swing, and I was excited for something different. I came out here with an open mind and found myself working in public relations. Marketing and public relations were always an interest to me in college. I love writing, persuasion and the study of people.

How did you end up at Bateman?

When I moved out to San Francisco, I was seduced by  the startup scene. I spent a few glorious months exploring the city and various companies and also speaking with every alumni I could find in the Bay. That’s when I met Rod McLeod and Shannon Hutto, who introduced me to PR and the Bateman Group. I came in and met the team and was wowed by how sharp and genuine everyone was. Here I could have valuable mentorship while also working with passionate people and for innovative companies. In the end, I was deciding between a job at Bateman and a job at a startup, and after meeting the spirited Tyler Perry in person at an alumni event, I knew Bateman was the right choice. When it comes down to it, the people you spend every day with are one of the most important parts of your job.

Favorite part of the job?

Building strategy and relationships are some of my favorite things about this job. I’ve always enjoyed the study of people and how to communicate with them. In consulting, I learned that a recommendation is useless unless you communicate it well. That’s at the very center of what I do here, and public relations has always piqued my interest in that sense. On a day-to-day level, I love and admire the teams I get to work with, both internally and client side. On the technology side, I love working with startups because you get to see the impact that a great story can have on a company’s sales. Meeting with clients is one of the best parts of my day. It’s all about the team collaboration!


Crowning acheivement.jpgTell me something most people don’t know about you
.

Growing up, I was a huge tomboy. A lot of people wouldn’t know because of the heels I wear now but in third grade, I always wore Kordell Stewart’s Steelers jersey. I was convinced that I’d be the first female quarterback in the NFL. I also played on a boys lacrosse team until the program eventually moved me to an all girls team, which I wasn’t too happy about.

(Left) Briana’s inner jock emerges at last year’s Bateman Beer Pong tournament, where she was crowned a champion along with Sara Fastenberg.

 

You’re brunette, blue-eyed and beautiful. What’s your ethnic identity?

I’m an Irish lady with one blue eye and one green eye!

Can you cook?

I love cooking, especially with my mom. I feel the most accomplished when I’m able to look in the fridge and make the most out of the ingredients that I have on hand — it’s my very own version of Chopped or Top Chef. But if I had to pick a favorite dish, I love baking peach crostata, which is basically an amazing peach pie made from scratch, down to the thick, floury crust, with custard on top.

What are some of your hobbies?

I really enjoy creative writing, although I’m very private about what I write outside of work. I also love throwing dinner parties and meeting new people. I’m an addict of this app called Sosh. It tells me all the unique, fun things to do around here and fuels my love affair with San Francisco. I’m also a big fan of anything outdoorsy, so I really enjoy running down by the water or hiking in Marin. San Francisco is the perfect city for that sort of thing.

What’s your favorite part of living in San Francisco?

Since it’s beautiful nearly every month of the year here, I can go wine tasting whenever I want! Proximity to adventure is definitely one of most appealing parts of San Francisco. There’s so much to do within very close driving distance.

Any life goals?

I want to live in Europe. I lived in Paris for a year in college and I know that I need to get back there. I want to live in at least three different countries before I settle down.