AerospaceHuman ResourcesArchitectureInnovationBanking & FinanceNonprofitsConstructionReal EstateEconomy RetailEducationSales & MarketingEnergyTechnologyGovernmentTransportationHealth Care
What started with drinks among acquaintances has turned into a public relations experiment. Since that initial happy hour at Paseo Grill a few months ago, PR professionals Kathy Oden-Hall, Meredith Lynn, Rob Crissinger, Phil Bacharach and Mary Ann Osko have joined Tracey Zeeck in a nondescript — and hard-to-find — warehouse building in Automobile Alley.
While each specializes in their own niche industries, they all collaborate with one another.
“I needed co-workers,” says Zeeck, who has worked in PR for more than 15 years. “There are so many individuals doing this in town, and it didn’t seem like anyone was talking to each other. I didn’t know who did what. I just invited everyone to Paseo Grill, bought drinks and forced them to be friends.”
Zeeck says the last part in jest, but everyone that night was looking for the same thing. They just may not have known it at the time.
“PR people generally are people-people. When you freelance or consult, so many times you work from your home or Starbucks or whatever,” Oden-Hall says. “I get energy from being around people. That’s why I wanted office space, to be around people and collaborate and pull energy; so, I think other people felt the same way. I think we could all be working from our homes if we wanted to.”
“Been there, done that,” Crissinger says of the years he’s spent out of an office setting.
Kathy Oden-Hall, Rob Crissinger, Tracey Zeeck, Mary Ann Osko, Phil Bacharach and Meredith Lynn
He focuses heavily on the entertainment industry in film and music.
Osko works with nonprofits and oil and gas clients, as well as entertainment districts. Zeeck and Lynn focus on consumer clients, along with nonprofits and entertainment. Bacharach’s business runs the gamut from nonprofits to retail, as well as professional writing.
has a deep background in corporate communications. Having spent 25
years with Dell and General Motors, she is schooled in internal
communications. She often works inside her clients’ offices.
“So if she gets hired, we might have an open desk,” Zeeck says.
Initially, Oden-Hall needed office space, as did Zeeck’s assistant, Meredith Lynn, who had just been hired.
The drinks may have been good that night, but the ideas were even better.
“It wasn’t anything I had to sell,” Zeeck says. “I think there’s room for 10 of these in town.”
financial arrangement is a simple one: Zeeck signed the lease with
owner Steve Mason, and charges everyone a couple hundred dollars a month
for a desk.
“You’ve got six agencies all talking about one client. the collaboration is awesome.” —Rob Crissinger
“Really, the thing we share that’s most difficult to quantify is collaboration, bouncing ideas off each other,” Crissinger says. “There’s a lot of overlap in our clients, and so when we have those brainstorming sessions, you’ve got six agencies all talking about one client. The collaboration is awesome.”
Oden-Hall pulled Crissinger and Zeeck in to help with the PR for the Creativity World Forum last November.
“The great thing about this group is we’re all high-level PR executives working together on clients,” Osko says. “Although I don’t work directly with Tracey’s or Rob’s clients, we know who those clients are, and we’re constantly promoting those clients.”
Almost everyone at the self-described “Flackhouse” has worked in a typical PR agency setting. And as far as their clients are concerned, they still do.
“We’re individuals and manage our own things,” Zeeck says. “It’s an easy way to pretend to be an agency when you need to be one, and be small when you need to be small.”
“It’s invisible to our clients,” Oden-Hall agrees.
So what does all this look like a year from now?
“Our rent goes up a little bit,” Zeeck says. “But I want it to be like this.”
Crissinger summed it up for everyone.
“Not that I want to get rid of any of these people, but I’d like to see this environment raise all of our ships, so to speak, where our agency is strong enough where we’re having to hire people and outgrow the space and have to move,” he says. “I want to see them be more successful, and I think that’s what’s going to happen.”
And when it does, they can all get together for a drink to celebrate.