Ann Smith, Founder, A.wordsmith

by | Apr 24, 2017

Length of PR career (so far): I’m at 17 years and counting, which is wild. Today I interviewed someone for a manager position who had graduated from the same university as I did but exactly 10 years later. Hearing those numbers out loud can kind of take your breath away!

Your most memorable campaign: Hmmm…that would be a tie between a campaign we did for a large food concessionaire that was rolling out a vegan hot dog at several Major League Baseball stadiums around the country. It was back when the health food craze at sports venues was just getting rolling so we were really on the forefront—so much so that some reporters were struggling to wrap their head around the idea.

The second notable campaign was a special event we managed and promoted for Kiehl’s. While the event itself was fun, the real bonus was the celebrities, including John Corbett, Gilles Marini and Kurt Yaeger, who made their grand entrance to the party on Harley Davidsons.

Ann SmithMost poignant professional moment: Sending a late-night email meant for a colleague to a client when I was an entry-level PR coordinator. I wanted to reach into the computer and yank back that message so badly. It taught me several things: 1. Don’t put anything in writing that you don’t want read; 2. Always triple check the ‘To’ line; and 3. Don’t email late at night. You can always write a draft, save it and send after a final review in the morning.

Favorite journalist to work with: I’m going to keep it local and say that my favorite journalist is Drew Carney with KGW-TV here in Portland. He’s smart, funny and responsive which is a PR person’s dream. I’ve also been interviewed by him and can attest that a good time is had by all.

Best thing about working at your agency: We are a bunch of kick-ass women! Enough said.

Most misunderstood thing about PR: That a press release is a magical document with special powers that will make your business famous and yourself rich.

Ann SmithWhat got you interested in a PR career? I always loved to write and was going to school for journalism at the University of Oregon when I took a course in PR ethics that grabbed ahold of my attention and I never looked back!

Number of meetings you were in last week: A lot.  However, I’ve been on a mission the last couple of years to stop when I find myself complaining about being busy, or replying to “how are you?” with a response about feeling overwhelmed, which is instinctually negative. Instead, I’m taking a wise woman’s advice and considering all of a day’s happenings—at work, home and everywhere in between—as factors that make my life “full”, and therefore good.

Your nightmare client in 3 words: Nervous. Unrealistic. Demeaning.

Rate your math skills from 1-10: Can I have a negative score? Honestly, my math skills are so terrible. I am now fearful about how I am going to keep up with my own kids’ homework (and they are in 2nd and 5th grades)!

Ann SmithBest advice to a PR student: If your boss invites you to lunch, go.

What do you read daily? theSkimm

Favorite way to de-stress: A warm, sunny Hawaiian beach is most definitely my favorite place to slow down, unplug and reset.  On a day-in-day-out basis though, I sweat out my stress and aggressions on an indoor spinning bike at Portland’s own BurnCycle.  It’s about sanity not vanity.

Worst PR crisis in the news this year so far: Ha. Just turning on the TV and watching major news networks depicts a daily PR crisis at the moment. I’d like to believe that our national leaders will not only get, but also embrace, some tough love from their senior PR advisors; I suppose time will tell!

Brand that does the best PR: Budweiser. From Clydesdales to puppies, political toughness and stories of family, this is a brand that has a way of consistently tugging at the heart strings, evoking a feeling of Americana, and staying relevant after all of these years. This Bud’s for you!

Cocktail of choice: Dirty gin martini

Favorite movie this year: Hidden Figures

Ann SmithChildhood “dream job”: Being a country music talent scout in Nashville. (Still my dream job.)

Three people you’d love to invite to dinner: Michelle Obama. Tom Brokaw. Keith Urban.

Your next big adventure: My husband and I are going to Bali this summer to see some good Australian friends of ours get married.  We’ve never been to Indonesia so this is going to be amazing.


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