The blog is back. With a slightly different twist.

We're sharing our journey of what it takes to build a successful boutique agency focused on public relations and branding. If you like clever (and sometimes humorous) women taking charge of their destiny while having a bit, okay A LOT, of fun doing it - then stay tuned.

The goal is to share the nitty gritty details of how we aim to balance it all (and sometimes falter) while inspiring others to take control of their own story. This is not a perfectly curated feed. It's real life and risky business, full of ups and downs and lots of laughter. We strive to end each day feeling fulfilled and that we did good honest work with great people.

Good honest work takes many forms. It can be a corporate job with a regular schedule and paycheck, or a side hustle that satisfies your passion during a day bookmarked by caring for your bustling family. This type of work contributes to our society and satisfies the needs of others, much like music. Can you remember a time in your life when you were touched by powerful theme songs or had an anthem that meant the world to you? This is true for many stages and events in our lives. Those are what define the tone of a generation and us and individuals. Music has the ability to transform our moods and translate our feelings into the most basic words with powerful rhythms. 

For me, music is all of those things and was the means of food on the table and back-to-school shopping as a child. My dad was on the road for twenty years as a drummer-turned-band manager and then a booking agent.

Can you guess which one is my dad? Hint: I look just like him.

Can you guess which one is my dad? Hint: I look just like him.

Can't stop jamming.

Can't stop jamming.

It was a fun experience for a kid - how many people can say they were in the fourth grade when they first danced in a bar? Before you get up in arms over a child in a bar; it was my dad’s band reunion at a resort and I choreographed a dance to La Bamba with a bandmate’s daughter. Plus, it was the 90s, before parent-shaming was a thing (disclaimer: we do not believe in shaming and you will never see it on this blog or social feed). I was lucky to experience the inner workings of an elusive industry that appears to be all glitz and fun. 

Daddy and me circa late 1980s.

Daddy and me circa late 1980s.

Daddy and me circa 2014.

Daddy and me circa 2014.

Musicians have a deep passion for their craft; it’s in their blood. I have a deep respect for those that commit to making it a career. It takes a lot of heart, soul and eventual hustle to book gigs, tour and develop enough of a following to pay the bills. I felt a little warm and fuzzy in my heart learning the supremely talented Brit Drozda joined us as a client. Brit is a folk rock music artist who embodies a unique sound drawing inspiration from a wide variety of recording artists that include: Norah Jones, Brandi Carlile and Sheryl Crow.  She is a classically trained musician and invests countless hours collaborating with and learning from other musicians – she takes time every day to improve her vocal performing skills. On Friday, August 18, Brit is performing live alongside Jason Scavone and Bless These Souls Under the City at Charlotte's Visulite Theater.

I’m excited for what lies ahead and we look forward to you sharing your stories and comments along the way!

 

Cheers,

Dena

Lessons I Learned in Middle School

Big change is afoot. My oldest, Luci, is about to start middle school (we do that in sixth grade in Charlotte) and my youngest, Opal, starts Kindergarten. We've spent a great deal of time over the last few weeks discussing a myriad of details relating to wardrobe, school supplies, pick-ups and drop-offs and after school activities. When we finished all that we focused some real time on the subject of interacting with friends. 

My beautiful girls.

My beautiful girls.

While it helps that my background is in PR and I can position almost anything in a positive way, at the end of the day I'm a woman facing real challenges raising a family. And I want to share the truth with my daughters. So, over Sunday dinner with their Dad, we talked to Luci about friends. Because, as I see it, that will be one of the biggest challenges facing my sweet, reserved and very bright girl.

Mean Girls, 2004

Mean Girls, 2004

Over the years, I've determined that people fall into three "friend" categories: those who pretend to be your friend to get stuff from you or to get you to do things you don't want to (or shouldn't) do, people who are your friend now but won't be your friend next week because you have a difference of opinion/you grow apart and those who are true friends. These are the special people who stand beside you at your lowest and choose to include you in times of celebration. 

Here's the thing. I have so much relevant (mean girl) material that could be used as a basis for this conversation. Stuff that's happened in the last week and a mountain of stuff I was exposed to in sixth grade. The good news? If I ever get brave enough to do stand-up comedy or write a book - I have plenty of crap to share.

Whether you're in sixth grade or an adult with real-world responsibilities, success comes when you surround yourself with people who are genuine, kind and inclusive. This breeds confidence. If you see someone at lunch who's sitting alone, go to them. If you see a co-worker struggling with an issue, offer to lend a hand. If you aren't included in a birthday celebration with someone - move forward and take stock in those who appreciate you and go spend time with them. To me, being inclusive means you put the feelings/needs of others and the task at hand above all else. It means you don't allow petty nonsense to get in the way of any meaningful interaction with another human being. I work on this every day. Sometimes I succeed and other times I fail miserably at it. The good news is, your true friends know when your heart's in the right place. And when it feels like theirs isn't, they don't shy away from saying they're sorry.

As Luci starts middle school and I face grown-up life decisions, these are all good reminders. I want my daughter to be successful in life and I want to set a good example. So for all the wonderful women surrounding me who are trying to be the best they can be - I raise my glass to you. Move forward and be inclusive - I promise you'll love the results.

 

Top-notch Tuesday

It's been nearly a month since I stepped out on my own to do what I do best, help others achieve their business goals. Today, and each Tuesday for the foreseeable future, I'm celebrating a person who's been instrumental in my career and personal success. While I may have lost contact with some of these influential people, I still think of them often and practice a great deal of what they taught me. Allow me to start at the beginning.

Meet Len Weinstein. Len was my first official full-time supervisor (a.k.a boss). He's a tall powerful force of charisma with a healthy helping of can-do attitude. Plus, he's super smart.

Len taught me anything is possible if you have the right mindset. Adaptability was his middle name. Ok, I'm kidding - I'm not sure about his middle name, but that's the one I'd give him. When I worked with Len it was my first job out of college and the company was SkyTel (yep, that's right, a nationwide paging company).

SkyTel Nationwide Pager

At this time, SkyTel was a company in an aggressive growth trajectory and he took a chance on me. I entered the interview green and nervous and left with a job offer to be his Regional Administrator. One of my favorite memories was helping him produce a video that would represent the regional office in a contest. This was a big deal because it would be shared with the national sales team -- and we WON! Len was proud of the work we did and, full disclosure, I continue to be too. While this moment may only be a faint memory for him, it taught me a great deal about the nuts and bolts of video production and the importance of timing and celebration -- all things I've continued to use as I've moved through my communications career. And each time I hear Van Halen's "Right Now" (the theme song for the video), I smile and think of the great work we did on this project.

Kudos to you, Len. YOU made a difference to me in the beginning of my career and I'm certain you continue to do the same with your present team at EPAY Systems. Have a happy and productive Tuesday!

Three Things I'd Share with 1990s Keri

I have a group of friends in a 1990s cover band, Gump Fiction. A couple weekends each month, I can be found in the audience listening to them belt out some of the most memorable tunes from that decade. Full disclosure, I've always loved music and the louder the better. Twenty years later, it continues to be a powerful force in my life. 

Gump Fiction - Legendary 4th of July at Lenox Square / Atlanta, Ga.

When this amazing band plays, I'm transported back to when things were simpler. Personal email had just come on the scene, most cell phones were too big to carry in your purse (or they were bolted to the interior of your car) and you didn't have to have your body scanned before you boarded a flight at the airport. I miss all of that.

Gump Fiction - Rusty Rudder / Cornelius, NC

Now, it seems we have all these gadgets to make our lives easier, yet life is more complex than ever before. Not only do we need/want a device for every person in the household, we need to ensure these remain fully charged. We feel the need to share pictures of our stuff, our kids and our most recent vacations to show our online "friends" we have a great life. Don't get me wrong, I love some of these conveniences, but come on. I long for a day at the beach when you actually spend two hours floating on a raft in the surf, not watching those next to you try for twenty-five minutes to take a group photo with a selfie stick. 

If I could go back and talk to the 1990s version of me there are three things I would share. 

Be thoughtful. Every decision you make, personal or professional, will have consequences. Think things through and make a mental list of pros and cons. You'll look back on that pivotal moment and thank yourself.

Be caring. Care enough to listen to those around you. This doesn't mean you have to take all their advice, but let them know you appreciate their opinions and respect their perspective. This is a good habit and will take you far in life.

Be in the moment. Pay attention to what is happening around you. Drink life in. Smell the fresh pasta you're about to eat in Italy, remember the sting of the salt water in your eyes as you swam along the Great Barrier Reef and, most of all, tell those you care about how important they are to you. You may only have one chance - embrace it.

Life is short and in the blink of any eye it will be 20 years later. How do you like them apples?

Source: http://GumpFiction.com

Hello.

I love people. I love interacting with people, I love hearing the challenges they face and I love providing solutions. In the end, a smile and a "thank you" for the hard work is really all I need.

Following brands is a passion. I'm curious by nature and want to know how they listen and connect with their communities. I admire Chanel, because it’s iconic and classic. That's just the beginning - I constantly scan social media and online news sites as well as trade publications for campaigns that stand out. Much like my shoe collection, it’s difficult to list my favorites since those change day to day depending upon my mood.

Inspiration is driven by a variety of sources – current events, trendspotting, fashion and even spending time with my children. I keep a notebook with me at all times and jot down thoughts that may lead to ideas for our agency, its clients or new business opportunities.