Author Archive

The Art of PR: PROTOS 2010

June 29, 2010

I was filled with anxiety when I parted with my first PROTOS entry on Friday, April 23.  Even though I had worked on it for weeks, gone through it countless times and had it reviewed by my incredible colleagues at HKA, I still wasn’t ready to let go.  It was difficult for all of us to know that we wouldn’t get to see the evaluation of our efforts for a tedious nine weeks.

And so we waited.

But the time flew, and before we knew it OCPRSA’s 35th Annual PROTOS Awards Ceremony was upon us at the beautiful Surf and Sand Hotel in Laguna Beach.  Guest Emcee and Eyewitness News Reporter Ric Romero lead us through the event with humor and insight.  We had finally eased into the evening, forgetting the nerves the event evoked, when we heard a slew of names being read.  My stomach didn’t have the chance to turn itself in knots before I heard my name being called, followed by Inez’s name and Robyn’s.  Excitement and relief washed over me as HKA claimed three awards for our small agency.

Inez and Mari captured a first-place PROTOS in the Media Relations category for their work with The Orange County Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure; Robyn and Linda won a first-place PROTOS in the Community Relations category for Farmers & Merchants Bank; and I was lucky enough to bring home an Award of Excellence in the Media Relations category on behalf of Anika and myself for our Torelli Realty campaign.

Linda D., LaDonna, Nicole, Robyn, Inez and Mari celebrate HKA's success at PROTOS 2010

While I’m thrilled to have my name on one of these shiny and prestigious awards, there is no way it would’ve been possible without such a fantastic team supporting me.  It was a rough road for all of us, but we managed to fill it with laughter and fun along the way, thanks to a stress-relieving dance party and the infamous blessing of the PROTOS.

Preparing for the blessing

Emily displaying a traditional PROTOS blessing headdress and Mari practicing her award winning smile

I’m so grateful to have had the encouragement of my incredible colleagues at the event – Mari, Inez, Robyn and LaDonna – and honored to have been there representing the amazing women who could not be present, but have had such a huge impact on my career: Hilary, Emily and Anika.  Congratulations to the entire HKA staff and all of the winners at the 2010 PROTOS Awards!


Everyone has a story to tell

March 10, 2010

Tom Scott

One of my favorite things about working at HKA is that our clients have fascinating and unique stories to share with the world.  I’ve recently been reminded just how remarkable of a bunch we represent by working with one of our newest clients, Tom Scott.

Tom is the founder and chairman of Scott Wealth Management Group, an accomplished financial planner, professional speaker, author and survivor of the first fatal wreck of a Boeing 747.  Yes, that’s right; one of our clients survived a plane crash. Not only did Tom stay calm enough to find a way out before the plane burst into flames, he also helped nearly 100 people escape the wreckage.

I had the honor of hearing the story first-hand when I attended one of his recent speaking engagements.  His recollection of the incident was enthralling as he discussed the fears he was faced with on that fateful day and how suddenly he seemed to realize what he needed to do to save himself and so many others.  Even as he described pulling several people from the plane, Tom never positioned himself as a hero.  Instead, he attributes his survival, and his ability to help others, to careful planning and preparation for the worst.

Newspapers covering the crash featured Tom as a hero

Today, Tom is a seasoned financial planner and professional speaker who has rescued hundreds of people from economic disaster.  He is currently using his knowledge and experience to help individuals understand how to face their fears regarding finances during these rocky economic conditions.  Beyond the thought provoking lessons Tom proposes in his speech, I was inspired by the realization that he is turning a tragedy into something good.  I feel so fortunate to be in a position to help share his story and to work for an agency that truly values that.  To quote HKA’s original tag-line from 25 years ago, “Everyone has a story to tell, let us tell yours!”

To learn more about Tom’s story and the 1974 plane crash, check out this short clip on YouTube: 747 Plane Crash Hero Remembers.

“What’s with all the colors? Someone clue me in!”

January 8, 2010

The title of this post is just one of the many status updates in my News Feed regarding the latest Facebook craze: post your bra color in the name of cancer awareness.  I have to admit, it caught my attention when friends started changing their status to navy blue, black and pink.  I later discovered the following message in my inbox from a female friend:

This is fun and also sends a message to spread the awareness of breast cancer…in your status put the color of bra you are wearing…nothing else just the color…let’s see how long it takes men to figure out what message we are trying to send! Send this message ONLY to ladies!!

While I appreciate the originality here and the fact that the trend spread like wildfire, I couldn’t bring myself to post the color of my own unmentionables – and it wasn’t because I was being coy.   It was because I felt a twinge of disappointment knowing that what the message was lacking was a real call to action.

We get it, your bra is white. NOW WHAT?!

Although the origin of this trend remains unknown,  I can’t help but to wish the idea would have fallen into the head of someone who could have inspired a movement beyond confessing your color and forgetting about the reason.  In the PR industry, we know that social media is completely viral and this is a great example of it.  But it also demonstrates how a “social media campaign” (if you will) can fall flat if it leaves people wondering what happens next.

So, while breast cancer awareness is on the forefront of everyone’s mind, post a link in conjunction with your color. Send your friends to a recent article about breast cancer or to the Komen for the Cure OC Web site to learn more and even donate to the cause. Don’t just say you’re an advocate, BE an advocate.

Jazz Moves and Tennis Shoes

October 2, 2009

What a busy weekend for the HKA team!  Last Saturday marked the start of back-to-back events for us beginning with the  7th Annual Gala: Prohibition Party and Jazz on the Beach.  The early 1930s theme transformed the cove into an exclusive speakeasy in honor of the beach community’s development during the Prohibition era.  Although I had been looking forward to the gala since I first heard about it, I was absolutely blown away by the turnout.  Over 400 guests attended, many wearing Prohibition-inspired costumes, to support CCA’s mission of preservation and continued restoration of the area as well as the expansion of the nonprofit’s educational programs.   While flapper dresses, feathers and fedoras flooded the beach, my favorite get-up of the night went to Steve Murow pictured below with his wife Jeanne:

Guests embraced the Prohibition theme with 1930s-inspired attire

Guests embraced the Prohibition theme with 1930s-inspired attire

The party took place on the sand of the cove during the slow coastal sunset. Attendees enjoyed authentic Prohibition cocktails, including classics like, “bathtub gin fizz” and “sidecars,” a three-course menu, based on 5-star hotel menus from the Prohibition era and live entertainment by the Brenna Whitaker Jazz Orchestra who performed early 1900s hits like “It Had to Be You” and “Big Spender.”

2009 CCA Gala_MG_9372

Brenna Whitaker takes the stage at the Prohibition Party

As the celebration of Crystal Cove’s remarkable past came to a close, the HKA ladies got ready to trade in their jazz moves for tennis shoes at the Susan G. Komen Orange County Race for the Cure.

Survivors raise their roses in celebration of their strength

Survivors raise their roses in celebration of their strength

On Sunday Sept. 27, swarms of pink took over Fashion Island for the annual Race for the Cure.  Although I had participated in the race in the past, this was the first year I got to experience the Survivor Tribute, during which breast cancer survivors are recognized for triumph over the disease in an incredibly moving ceremony.  As the speakers took the stage, I couldn’t help but to tear up at the amazing strength and courage exhibited by all. Being a part of the 2009 race was nothing short of amazing.  Unless you’ve experienced it yourself, it’s hard to imagine what it feels like to be surrounded by 30,000 people who have been touched in some way by this disease and are truly devoted to finding a cure; it’s inspirational, humbling and hopeful all at the same time.

The HKA staff bright and early at the Komen Race for the Cure

The HKA staff bright and early at the Komen Race for the Cure

One of my favorite things about HKA is the wonderful non-profit organizations we’re involved with and I am so glad I was able to experience these amazing events.  Stay tuned for more HKA staff recollections coming soon.  In the meantime, check out more from the Orange County Register about the Prohibition Party and Race for the Cure!

The Crystal Cove Alliance is Keepin’ it Covey

June 15, 2009

*Note: This post has been updated as of June 16, 2009.

From the live band in the corner strumming laid-back melodies to the gourmet buffet table and its surfboard center-piece, the Crystal Cove Alliance isn’t kidding when they say they’re “keepin’ it Covey.”

CCA cocktail party

On Thursday June 4, more than 50 guests gathered for the Sponsors and Underwriters Cocktail Party on the bluff-top deck at Crystal Cove. While it was easy to get distracted by the incredible sunset, it was hard to forget why we were there in the first place, to get a sneak peek at plans for the 7th Annual Crystal Cove Alliance Beach Gala: Prohibition Party and Jazz on the Beach on September 26.

As if a party on the beach isn’t reason enough to be there, the Crystal Cove Alliance has tied in the prohibition theme to recreate the Covey vibe of the 1930s. The gala promises live jazz music, a rum runner boat, vintage cars, prohibition cocktails and the best food around – literally! The party is being catered by local CCA supporters: The Beachcomber Café, Montage Laguna Beach, The Resort at Pelican Hill and The St. Regis Monarch Beach.

These big names aren’t the only proponents of the gala, the Sponsors and Underwriters party raised over $200,000 from a variety of contributors (see complete list below). Regardless of the size of the donations being made, it was clear that people genuinely care about the CCA mission.

The 2009 Annual Gala will provide funds for new educational programs – including Arts in the Park, Science and Nature in the Park (SNAP) and Living History, as well as providing continued preservation of the cove.

Official sponsors of the 7th Annual Crystal Cove Alliance Beach Gala: Cox Conserves, Crystal Cove Beach Cottages, Dan & Louise Brigham, HKA, Inc. Public Relations, Miller Environmental, Inc., Orange Coast magazine, Fostering Executive Leadership—Dr. Tammy Wong, Southern California Edison, Montage Laguna Beach, Vice Chancellors at UCI, Young’s Market Company, First Foundation Bank—Dave & Lynn Rahn, Fritzler Design, Jackson Lewis LLP, Northern Trust, Pam & Jim Young, Roger’s Gardens, Soka University of America and UCI—School of Biological Sciences. Culinary sponsors The Beachcomber Café, Montage Laguna Beach, The Resort at Pelican Hill and The St. Regis Monarch Beach.