Leeza Hoyt, President, The Hoyt Organization
Length of PR career (so far): I founded The Hoyt Organization more than 25 years ago. As for how long I’ve been in the industry, remember, it’s not polite to ask someone their age!
Your most memorable campaign: One of our campaigns involved announcing a variety of retail centers and entertainment complexes for a major architectural client. We worked on unveiling projects around the globe, working across time zones and languages. On one conference call, we realized that—out of the eight people on the call – we’d all just finished a meal, but entirely different ones based on our respective time zones. The campaign was a fascinating blend of people, projects, lifestyles and cultures.
Favorite journalist to work with: There are many, but two of my favorites are Roger Vincent from Los Angeles Times and Randy Shearin, senior vice president at France Media. We “grew up” together, so to speak, in this industry, and I have utmost respect for both of them. Both are ethical journalists, truly the top in their field. Not to mention, they’re simply just fun people to hang out with.
Most poignant professional moment: I like to serve on various boards as a way of contributing to not only our city, but also to the industries we serve. I served for years on the board of the Los Angeles Headquarters Association, an organization committed to making Los Angeles a better place to live. We hold a major fundraiser annually, and I helped run the event for quite some time. A few years ago, I was running late and couldn’t figure out why people kept calling me to find out where I was, given the fundraiser hadn’t even started yet. It turns out, they were actually planning on bestowing The Bill Harkness Service Award upon me, because of my contributions to the organization. I was floored. It was a total surprise. It’s not often we are the ones in the spotlight, and it was very humbling to accept the award in front of 500 people, particularly since I was truly caught off-guard. I was totally speechless and, in our business, that doesn’t happen often.
Number of 2 a.m. calls from a client this month: Zero…so far!
Number of airports you’ll travel through this year: I’d guess around 20. We’re the Los Angeles partner for the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN), and this allows us the unparalleled opportunity to travel to a number of out-of-area meetings every year. These trips will include everything from Appleton, Wisconsin on the domestic side, to Kyoto, Japan on the international side. It’s truly one of the pleasures I enjoy most.
Biggest complaint about social media: Social media has no filter. Anyone can put anything out and people will assume it’s true. Many people jump on the bandwagon of a post, without checking to see if it’s factually based. We’ve certainly had to add points about social media to our crisis communications/issues management practice because of this.
Best thing about working at your agency: Our team culture and our two office dogs – we work hard at making sure it’s a collaborative and inclusive environment. When the day gets crazy, we just take the puppies out for a quick walk to reduce stress. Fresh air works every time.
Last time you didn’t do any work all weekend: I typically stay in touch on the weekends. I’m usually checking email, monitoring or posting on social media and the like. I’m not sure this is actually working, nowadays it’s simply part of life. However, I do put work (my phone) away at the dinner table.
Most misunderstood thing about PR: PR by definition is organic. We can’t control what ends up in an article or call a reporter and ask them to “revise” something just because the client doesn’t like it. If you want total control, consider advertising.
Most outrageous client request: I’m not sure that this is entirely outrageous, but one of our CEOs asked us to do media outreach for his daughter’s wedding, including getting the announcement in The New York Times, even though they didn’t live in New York. We did. It was actually a great project to work on. Let’s face it, everyone is usually happy when there is a significant wedding and, as a result, the coverage was awesome. We even had a reporter/photographer team attend and cover the wedding for a major feature in a national publication.
What got you interested in a PR career? When I needed to declare a major in college, I knew I didn’t want to go into accounting, sociology sounded boring and I wasn’t pulled by any of the sciences. Journalism seemed to be the only option left. Given public relations was something that was evolving, I figured I could shape it anyway I wanted to – it turned out to be the best decision ever.
Number of meetings you were in last week: Last week we were at an industry conference in Las Vegas, so the number of meetings was significantly higher than normal. We had more than 15 meetings scheduled with clients, reporters and colleagues. It was a success, but not without coffee and some comfortable walking shoes.
Rate your math skills from 1-10: 6 without a calculator, 10 with.
Best advice to a PR student: Be curious, research is your new best friend. Communications has changed drastically in the past 10 to 20 years and it will change even more so in the next 10 to 20 years. Learn to adapt to change and embrace it whole-heartedly.
What do you read daily? I make sure to check out Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, GlobeSt.com and Connect Media, plus several e-newsletters spanning industry trades to fun light reading.
Favorite way to de-stress: Well, if it’s a “big” de-stress, I like to head to Hawaii J If it’s a daily de-stress, some form of exercise – biking or swimming usually helps. I don’t rule out grabbing drinks with a few friends either.
Favorite non-work hobby: Hanging out with any one of my three boys. At a minimum, it’s always amusing. Two are now officially adults, so conversations are very interesting. It’s been a joy to transition from being their parent to being their friend.
Last book you read: The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, it was my book club selection. The story takes place between 1854 and 1929 and is about the abandoned children that were sent from the East Coast to farmlands in the Midwest and what happened to them. It’s all based on a true story and is a fascinating read.
Cocktail of choice: Dirty martini, Ketel One with blue cheese olives. Fabulous.
Your first “real” job: I was responsible for earning money while I was in college, and one of my first summer jobs was working in the stock room unpacking shipping boxes at a now defunct department store, Montgomery Ward. It was a real eye-opener in terms of learning the retail industry.
Childhood “dream job”: Being a pilot on the 747s. My dad was a pilot, and it always seems exotic to me.
Three people you’d love to invite to dinner: Princess Diana, John F. Kennedy and Neil Armstrong…what an interesting dinner that would be!
Your next big adventure: I’m heading to Kyoto, Japan for the international PRGN meeting. I can’t wait to try some authentic sushi and ramen!
Your ideal Saturday: Sleeping in, going to a leisurely brunch with friends and sharing mimosas, taking our two dogs for a walk on the beach and then taking a nap to rest up for Monday.