Senior Vice President, Public Affairs
Who or what influenced you to start in public relations?
“My public relations career started when I was in fourth grade, because I wrote a letter to the editor that got published in the Los Angeles Times. The paper posted a very mean caricature of Chelsea Clinton when she was in the White House. Around the breakfast table, my mom would always share interesting articles with me and talk about the news, so I was like, ‘this is terrible, I can’t believe that.’ Chelsea and I were similar ages, so we [me and my classmates] would always write her letters and talk about what it was like to be a teenager in the White House. So I took the caricature to school and my teacher said ‘You can let the editors know that you’re upset with this caricature.’ So she helped me craft a letter to the editor, and it got printed. I was a celebrity around my elementary school for a long time. I like to say that’s when I officially started.”
What is the most gratifying part of your public relations position?
“I really love working in PR. I love my job. I feel like not a lot of people can say that. I love getting that great media hit for clients. It’s exciting when your client has told you they’ve never been in a certain outlet, they’ve never been able to tell the story they want to tell, and you’re able to help them get that hit they’ve been waiting for. I also love when I have a spur-of-the-moment idea that can help clients achieve their goals. Whether I’m in the shower, or at the gym, or walking to work, I have this sudden spark. I share it with client and they say, ‘That’s such a good idea!’ Building a whole campaign around one idea is really exciting. And I love working with people in the office. Everyone at FleishmanHillard is extremely smart, fun, professional, really nice and welcoming. So I really enjoy working with my colleagues. And I get really excited when someone else in the room has a great idea, or when a junior staffer steps up and takes initiative. When I see them grow a passion for what we’re doing here, it’s really gratifying.”
What quality in your co-workers do you appreciate most?
“You have to like the people you’re working with. You spend more time with your workmates than you do with your family and friends, even your dog and cat – 40 plus hours a week – so you’ve got to love working with them. I love how friendly and fun everybody is. I like when colleagues take initiative, when I don’t have to tell people what to do. Good ideas are always appreciated. I love to be inspired by others. Passion is a really big thing for me. When co-workers are passionate and want to do anything and everything they can for a client, I’m all for it.”
If you ever left the PR field, what brought you back?
“I’ve always been in PR, just in different roles. When I worked on Capitol Hill for various members of Congress, I worked my way up the communications hierarchy there. I just loved helping members of Congress create their platform for whatever they were trying to do. When they had a piece of legislation they were really passionate about, I helped drive their messages through the media. I happened to be on the Hill at a very exciting time. The Democrats took over the majority in 2006. I worked for [former] Congressman Henry Waxman and he became chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and we were doing all of these investigations into the Bush Administration. We had a lot of high-profile people being called before Congress – from Condoleeza Rice to basically every head of any major agency. And then we did a hearing on steroids in baseball, so all of these major baseball players were coming in, and all of my friends who never cared before about what I did were all of a sudden like, ‘What’s going on over there? What are you working on, Caren?’ So that was really exciting. Then I left to go work for the Obama Administration. I worked at the U.S. General Services Administration when they had just received Recovery Act funding. We were helping to tell the story about greening federal buildings across the United States. I learned a ton about energy and energy efficiency. That’s when I really started honing my love for energy. Now at FleishmanHillard, I lead our energy sector work here.”
What kind of items are on your work desk right now?
“Business cards. I always have business cards on my desk. I’m a very big proponent around the office about networking and being visible out in the community. I would say I’ve gotten all of my jobs from some sort of networking event or informational interview, so I always stress the importance of networking. I always have a KIND energy bar on hand. You never know when you’ll need energy. They’re always great for an afternoon snack. I always have water; I’m a big fan of the Camelbak. Hand sanitizer is always on my desk. You never want to give other people your cold, but also working when you’re sick is just the worst thing ever! Chapstick from Sephora, cell phone, bronzer, and flat shoes – because I can’t wear heels all day!”