Author Archive

Patience is a PR virtue

August 5, 2010

Team HKA and Xan having a blast with the Unwrapped crew

Our client Xan Confections was featured on Food Network’s Unwrapped last month. I know we all were excited when it aired, but I can’t describe exactly how I felt to see one of my clients be featured on a show and television network I had been a major fan of for years.

Awesome is a pretty good word for it. Yes, it felt awesome.

Looking back, I realized that it has actually been about a year since I first planted the seed at Unwrapped. A concise phone pitch and a strong intent to make the opportunity blossom was how it all got started 11 months ago.

I’d had a great conversation with the producer, but not too much happened right away. It took patience and diligent (but careful) monitoring of the opportunity to keep it alive and growing. Finally, nearly three months after that first conversation, Xan was confirmed to be on the show. The taping day happened not too long after, and a mere five and a half months later..

TA-DA! Xan’s ancho chili caramel fired up tastebuds on the “Hot & Spicy” episode in July. Kudos to the Unwrapped crew and the Xan team for putting together such a fantastic segment.

Looking back on it all, I’m reminded that great PR hits can often take time, (LOTS of) patience and persistence. But it’s always well worth the wait and effort.

What’s a PR success you’re proud of and what did it teach you?


HKA Loves Lunch: Part 2

June 1, 2010

A while back, I blogged about HKA’s favorite lunch spots in Tustin, promising a continuation of the entry. Well, two months have gone by (we’ve been busy!) and I’m finally getting back to it now. So without further ado:

Haveli Indian Cuisine

Haveli’s has a killer all-you-can-eat lunch buffet, perfect for both Indian food newbies who want to sample a variety of dishes AND for Indian food fanatics who simply love to pig out on vegetable pakoras, spinach and paneer, chicken tandoori, etc. etc.  By the way, when I say “fanatic,” in no way do I mean “expert” — I still find myself experimenting(/guessing) with pairing condiments with dishes. But that’s what makes it fun, no?

The sacrifice of normal breath is sooo worth this garlic naan.

No meal is complete without naan. Tear off a piece, use it to soak up some creamy chicken tikka masala or curry, eat and repEAT. Mmm. LaDonna, Linda and I are frequent victims of garlic naan breath and Haveli’s-induced food comas.


A former resident of Old Towne Orange, I was a frequent visitor of Ruta’s in Orange, and am pleased to still be able to get my shrimp and avocado pita sandwich fix on my lunch hour. We love Ruta’s for its huge menu, variety in healthy and vegetarian choices, and pretty hefty portions (my sandwich lasts me two meals). Robyn’s favorite is the chicken curry wrap.

Cream Pan

Cream Pan's famous strawberry croissant

Whenever I have some extra time after eating lunch, and if I’m not too full, I love stopping by my favorite bakery to pick up an afternoon treat. Yes, Cream Pan is favorited by many (355 reviews avg. 4.5 stars on Yelp!), and because it’s just down the street, I had to include it in this post. The little shop is well-known for its strawberry and custard-stuffed croissants (with strawberries so sweet and a crust so flaky and crispy), but I’m also a big fan of the azuki cream (pastry filled with red bean paste and cream), Boston donut (chocolate covered custard-filled donut), and of course, the cream pan (soft bun filled with custard). They close at 4 p.m. and tend to run out of stock toward the end of the day, so visiting earlier is always better. (Cream Pan in the early morning is what I imagine heaven must smell like.)

Tustin Farmers’ Market

The last recommendation on this list comes only once a week: Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on El Camino Real and 3rd Street. The Tustin Farmers’ Market is great for picking up fresh produce and roasted corn, but we love visiting for the tamales. There are two tamale vendors and I love them both. Vera’s offers a great lunch special with a tender chicken or pork tamale, salsa and chips for about $4. The other vendor carries a delicious sweet corn tamale with poblano and cheese — I love buying a pack of these and storing them in my freezer. For the life of me, I can’t remember the name of the second vendor, but when I’ll do, I’ll link it back here.

I know this isn’t typically a food blog, but I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our favorite lunch spots! Of course, if you’re interested in checking them out and ever need a lunch buddy, just remember that HKA loves lunch.

HKA Loves Lunch: Part 1

March 23, 2010

The HKA office is lucky enough to be located in one of the tastiest towns in Orange County: Tustin (near Old Town, specifically).  Not only is Tustin graced with an incredible chili cook-off once a year, we happen to have access to a world of culinary adventures all within a 5-minute drive from our little office on Yorba street.  Whether we’re craving Mexican, Indian or Japanese cuisine, we’ve got it at our fingertips.

There are so many great spots to eat around here, but I’ve rounded up only a handful. (Okay… there are eight.  This is as far as I’m able to narrow it down, and even then I’m having to split it up into two posts!)

Full Moon Sushi

The poke bowl - our favorite!

I drove by it countless times and put it on my list of lunch places “to check out,” but it wasn’t until Linda developed a legitimate addiction to Full Moon’s tempura udon that I actually stepped inside.  Full Moon is everything I look for in a Japanese/sushi lunch joint — delicious, excellent quality AND affordable.

My top picks: the poke bowl (tuna marinated in a spicy dressing over rice), and the unagi (freshwater eel) bowl. Mari‘s (and actually everyone else’s) top pick: the poke bowl. Seriously. We are all addicted now.

Naan & Kabob

This is another place we suspect sprinkles addictive substances on its dishes. Naan & Kabob serves up super flavorful Persian grub. Nicole and former HKA-er Anika probably frequented N&K at least weekly for its fish kabob and chicken barg (marinated grilled chicken skewer) lunch specials. My fave? Either the the chicken barg or the chicken koubideh (ground chicken and spices).  It’s hard to decide, so the soltani is usually a good call (you get a skewer of each!) with rice pilaf, naan and a roasted tomato.


The carne asada "super" quesadilla is super yum

Alberta’s is your typical Mexican hole-in-the-wall, except it’s not a hole in the wall — it’s a standalone establishment. With a drive-thru. Maybe it’s not so typical.

Anyway, Alberta’s has been a go-to Mexican lunch spot for HKA-ers for years. Emily usually goes for a classic plate of taquitos and guacamole, while Hilary is a fan of the carnitas tacos. Personally, I’m hooked on Alberta’s super quesadilla — steak or chicken, sour cream, guacamole, beans and cheese all melting wonderfully together in a homemade flour tortilla. Apparently, the super “chips” (aka nachos) are also “lay-your-face-in-the-platter-good,” according to Emily.


And now for probably the healthiest lunch spot in this round-up: Ivy’s is mind-bogglingly delicious because its food is so GOOD, yet incredibly simple and healthy. I’m not exactly sure what it is about Ivy’s egg salad sandwich (with jack cheese, avocado and sunflower seeds) or chicken walnut sandwich that keeps me coming back for more.  Fresh ingredients must be the key.

Robyn‘s top pick: 1/2 chicken walnut sandwich and 1/2 chicken and rice soup. Hilary’s: roasted chicken breast sandwich on wheat with sprouts.

More to come on HKA’s favorite places to spend our lunch hour in part 2!

Helping Haiti

January 18, 2010

Seeing the devastation caused by the earthquake in Haiti on Jan. 12 has been absolutely heartbreaking. The gals at HKA have been helping out in their own ways.  I’m glad to be part of an agency full of good people with generous hearts.  Here are some things you can do and organizations that are helping with the relief effort.

Text in your donation:
It’s been retweeted a number of times by HKA gals and people across the globe: Text HAITI to 90999 to make a quick $10 donation to the American Red Cross Haiti relief efforts. They’ve raised more than $5 million as of last Thursday (I’m sure it’s gone up since then), but so much more is needed to help the country back to its feet.  Continue to spread the word!

Donate blood:
A couple weeks ago, my colleague Anika Ramirez posted about giving life – giving blood. I was inspired and went with her that day — my first time giving blood! As someone who gets pretty nervous about needles, I’m pleasantly surprised to report that it was a wonderful experience, and relatively painless (seriously!).  And — it was/is a good of a time as any to donate blood.  My donation alone can help up to three different people in Haiti!

Get connected on Facebook:
Get updated on the situation in Haiti on Facebook and show your ongoing support. It’s truly inspiring to see how the world has come together to help, but it’s also important to remember that it will take time to rebuild Haiti as it was already among the poorest nations in the world. The group “EARTHQUAKE HAITI” is where people are sharing information and news on Haiti and where survivors are posting photos trying to find loved ones.

Groups directly helping with relief efforts:
Aside from the Red Cross, there is also World Vision (and its “Give 10 and Pass It On campaign) and Food for the Poor, a Christian organization that has been helping Haiti for 50 years, and brought to my attention by another colleague, Robyn Williams. If there are more you know of, please feel free post it here in the comments section.

If you haven’t yet, I hope that we can inspire you to help Haiti, too — no gift is too small!


October 30, 2009

Our nonprofit clients are busy busy busy this time of year, and it doesn’t slow down as the holiday season approaches. I had the opportunity to be part of two wonderful fundraisers this fall:  the Komen Orange County Race for the Cure and Working Wardrobes’ Blue Jeans and the Blues. One overall thing I observed at both these events: our nonprofits and the community are truly amazing. Despite the economy, people are still coming in droves to support these ever-important causes. To put it simply: it’s inspirational.

The Race was just as magnificent as ever this year. HKA worked harder than ever to secure media exposure for this event and I’m proud to say we were successful, despite the fact that several media outlets had shut down since last year’s event (including KDOC’s Daybreak OC and Your Cancer today). The Orange County Register’s supplement and Race day story captured the event and stories of survivors.

And survivors’ stories are powerful. These women warriors captivate me during the Survivor Tribute each year. One woman revealed that she was  recently diagnosed and currently going through treatment, but at the end said she’d “always wanted to be a blonde,” then promptly yanked off her wig and waved it around amid cheers from her fellow survivors and everyone watching. I still get chills thinking about that moment.

Team HKA at Race

All smiles after the Race!

Exactly one week after the Race, Working Wardrobes held their first ever Blue Jeans & the Blues fundraising event. I am in love with Working Wardrobes’ creativity in its fundraisers. While the Black Tie & Tennies was a favorite of mine last year, this year’s more relaxed gala was just as inspiring. People had a grand time enjoying barbeque, dancing to tunes from sultry songstress Pamela G, and raising money through the casino, opportunity drawings and live auction. 944 Magazine was there to capture great moments of the evening. And of course, team HKA was there in style:


An interesting twist: One of the live auction items was donated by chef Martin Gilligan, a Working Wardrboes success story, who had shared with guests how he had overcome alcohol and substance abuse to become a successful chef at the Kyoto Grand Hotel in Los Angeles. His story touched the hearts of so many at the event, including mine.

Both these organizations change lives and save lives.  And we love being part of that!