“The best thing about being in PR is you can change the conversation,” says Abbi Whitaker, President of The Abbi Agency in Reno, Nevada. Recognized as a 2020 Top Woman in PR by PRNEWS, Abbi started her agency almost 14 years ago after noticing a void for “really thoughtful PR” in Nevada. “It was during the height of the recession, and I left an amazing job with amazing people,” says Abbi. “My husband and I took out a second mortgage on our house to be able to pay for what I needed. It was definitely a little ‘grin and bear it’ for a while.”
Abbi’s risk sure paid off. Her agency is 42 people strong and within the past two years has acquired a digital firm to expand their web offerings and a visual firm to expand photography and video. While the agency provides various communications services, one of their specialties is purpose-driven marketing, a subject which Abbi wrote an article about in Forbes last year. The idea at the heart of purpose-driven marketing is that, “Any company, agency, or brand should look at how they can impact the world in a better way.”
Abbi and her team look closely at their clients’ DEI and sustainability initiatives to position them as a bigger and positive presence in their space, whether that’s tech, tourism, or another industry. Abbi cites a campaign they ran for one of their tourism clients as an example of purpose-driven marketing: “Some of our destination clients were overrun with tourists who hadn’t necessarily been in the mountains or the lakes or deserts. These tourists didn’t know how to have the best possible time while having the least possible impact. So, we did a lot of campaigns that really focused on how you can be a better tourist.” For their tech clients, Abbi says, “We’re really working with them on how diversity and inclusion can be a core value.”
Abbi not only wanted to represent clients who have a positive impact, she wanted her agency to have a positive impact too. “I was leading what I wanted to do from a philanthropic standpoint and that’s not good company culture,” says Abbi. “It should come from the people within your agency and the things that they are passionate about. So, we have a committee called the Do Good Stuff Committee and we come together, and we talk about the things that we can work on as a team.”
The committee has recently morphed with the exciting news that The Abbi Agency has become a Certified B Corporation. “We found out about six weeks ago that we are B Corp certified,” says Abbi. “I’m super proud of that. It was a long road, but it’s going to keep me accountable and actionable and make sure that we keep doing good work that makes our community, our state, and where we live and work better.”
The B Corp certification is an extension of the culture and practices Abbi has fostered in her agency for years. “I love to use PR for the power of good and to make long term change,” says Abbi.