Welcome to the Catalyst Member Spotlight series. Catalyst prioritizes sharing members’ stories to showcase the breadth of the IABC community, connect communicators across the globe and elevate personal stories to inspire fellow members. If you’re a chapter leader who would like to spotlight a stand-out member of your chapter, email the Catalyst editors at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Meet IABC member Kaitlin Ross! With six years of experience in the field, Kaitlin works as a senior account executive for Pierpont Communications. Based in the IABC Houston chapter, Kaitlin shares how her communication career allows her to think outside the box and take action on big ideas. Get to know Kaitlin below, and connect with her on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.
What is the most exciting aspect of your role as a communicator?
Being able to tell client stories, no matter how big or small, is most exciting for me. It really never gets old when I get to take a deep dive into a new industry or client, hearing their vision for how they want to be portrayed and then making it come to life. Seeing your work come alive in a flyer, PowerPoint or website is a really exciting and satisfying feeling.
Share a situation or project that made you feel valued as a communicator.
I feel most valued when clients let me run with my wild ideas! I’ve been able to land amazing stories that way. At the beginning of COVID, I had a late-night idea for one of my clients, who focused on single-use plastics and advanced recycling. Realizing that COVID would increase single-use plastic demand, I reached out to reporters discussing the importance of recycling during this surge. My team thought it was a little presumptuous since we were in such an early stage of the pandemic, but they let me run with it.
After a few turned down pitches and a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reporter telling me my angle would never develop into a story, I decided it might be best to stop my outreach. However, a few weeks later I got an email from the same WSJ reporter requesting an interview! The story turned out great and wouldn’t have been possible if the team didn’t trust me and my ideas.
Think back on a time when you, as a communicator, collaborated with another department to bring a project to life. What made this process successful?
Recently, our team has worked very closely with a client’s legal counsel to help bring an (very wild) idea to life. Having never worked with an outside counsel before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. We had to learn how the other communicated, whether it be very detailed emails or just scheduling phone calls to discuss all the important action items. Additionally, we had to take the time to explain our campaign ideas and be ready to quickly switch plans if needed. It may have taken some time, but we definitely learned what was effective for both parties. A few months later, we’re almost ready to launch this idea we imagined!
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? Who gave it?
While this is simple advice, my first boss used to constantly tell me the phrase, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” As someone who was so new in the professional world, this was really refreshing to hear. This helped me learn that it’s OK to not know the answer and to ask questions.
Share a favorite resource that helps you stay connected and informed in the industry.
Most of the time when I’m reading news, it’s on behalf of my clients. The one email I always take the time to read for myself is the Marketing Brew. I love the way it compiles news on big brand campaigns, social outlets and more. Plus, it’s easily digestible so I’m not scrolling through multiple pages of articles!
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IABC Staff, Featuring Kaitlin Ross