All posts by Brandon Mize

Member Spotlight – Javier Solano

javiersolanoOn a continuous basis, IABC Nashville spotlights its diverse members through a Q&A feature. We are pleased to showcase Javier Solano, vice president at McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations in Nashville.

IABC: What is your background?

SOLANO: OK, so there’s the professional and there’s the personal. Professionally, before I started working at McNeely Pigott & Fox, I was a sports reporter for about 10 years, most of that with the Orlando Sentinel. I made the switch to the “dark side” about 15 years ago and haven’t looked back. Well, maybe once or twice.

Personally, I’m a first-generation citizen of the U.S. but also a citizen of Colombia, where I was born. My family moved here when I was very young. I grew up in the D.C. area. I moved to Tennessee because my wife got a scholarship offer from Vanderbilt Law. ‘Nuff said.

IABC: How did you get started in this business?

SOLANO: Oh I don’t know. If you want to go back to the very beginning, it was learning how to read and write. Underrated skills, even (or maybe especially) in this digital age. I grew up on the Washington Post and Odd Couple reruns, so all I ever wanted to be was a sports reporter. I did that for 10 years. It was a blast. But the schedule is nuts, the pay is awful and the bottom was about to drop from the entire industry just before I got out in 2000. I still miss it from time to time, but I was very fortunate to leverage those editorial skills into a job at a PR agency. I’ve never taken a communications class in my life. I can write. And I’ve learned a lot of other things, too, on the fly. Fortunately, there’s more to this job than smiling and being good with people. Otherwise, I’d be in big trouble.

IABC: What is your current position and business affiliation? How long have your been in this role?

SOLANO: I am a vice president at McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations (www.mpf.com) in Nashville. I’ve been with the firm for 15 years. This is the only marketing/communications job I’ve ever had, unless you count being a reporter. Here at MP&F, I manage a few of our client teams, mostly in the areas of education and energy. Probably my most interesting client at the moment is Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage. He’s a fascinating man, not very well understood or appreciated in my opinion. My niche at the firm is probably these areas: media relations, Latino outreach and writing in general.

IABC: What makes your business/organization stand out?

SOLANO: This is probably going to seem a bit simplistic, but I think it’s true: We work hard, we like what we do and we like each other. This line of work is probably not a perfect match with my skill set, but the reason I’ve been in it so long and with the same people for the past 15 years is that I like them. They’re good people. They care about the city. They take on the right projects. They’re not perfect; no one is. But their hearts are in the right place, and they’ve definitely played a role in the city’s rise, especially if you focus on downtown.

IABC: If you could describe yourself in three (3) words, what would it be?

SOLANO: Ha, I’m so bad at stuff like this. My wife could probably knock it out in two seconds, though it may not be altogether flattering. OK, how about detached, artistic and goofy? I’m a Gemini if that helps.

Tell something about yourself people would be surprised to learn.

SOLANO: My grandfather played on the first Colombian national soccer team. … And how’s this for symmetry: born in Colombia, grew up outside the District of Columbia, went to college at Columbia University. But I’ve never been to Columbia, Tenn. It’s on my list (actually, no it’s not).

IABC: What lesson(s) have you learned along the way that you believe has made you a better

communications professional?

SOLANO: Hmm, a couple of things, not necessarily related to each other:

  1. Being good to your client/boss sometimes means disagreeing with your client/boss.
  2. Celebrate success, not creativity. There will be times that you can do both. But one is more important than the other.
  3. Be first. Once you’re chasing a conversation, argument or story, it’s difficult to catch up.
  4. Say please and thank you. They’re just nice things to do.

IABC: What makes an effective communications leader?

SOLANO: Talk less, listen more. And don’t be a jerk.

IABC: What do you feel is the greatest benefit of IABC?

SOLANO: Can I give you two? Professional development and networking. I also happen to like the Nashville chapter very much. Very nice people. Probably closer to my age and interests than an organization like PRSA.

IABC: What prompted you to join IABC?

SOLANO: I was looking for professional development and networking opportunities. IABC offers that, along with an international network of chapters. I also wanted to get smarter about our awards process, and IABC has definitely helped with that.

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Member Spotlight – Glenda Betts

Glenda Betts head shotOn a continuous basis, IABC Nashville spotlights its diverse members through a Q&A feature. We are pleased to showcase Glenda Betts, past president of IABC Nashville and senior manager of the Economic Development’s Global Business team at TVA. 

IABC: What is your background/How did you get started in this business?

BETTS: I began my marketing career at United Cities Gas Company (now Atmos Energy)—a regional natural gas and propane utility in Franklin. While there, I had various roles including product management, gas supply procurement, marketing sales manager and division vice president of marketing.

After my employer was acquired in 1998, I joined Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). My first role was residential and small commercial product marketing manager, and I now serve as the senior manager on Economic Development’s Global Business team. In this position, I manage our department’s marketing efforts, website, analytics, social media, blog, trade publications, branding and messaging.

IABC: What makes your business/organization stand out?

BETTS: TVA is the nation’s largest public power company and serves business customers and local power companies in seven states. I believe it’s our mission of service that sets us apart: It includes energy, environmental stewardship and economic development.

In Economic Development, we are working with regional, state and local partners to attract companies and jobs and help communities prepare for economic success. Thus, we help improve the quality of life for the nine million residents of the Tennessee Valley.

IABC: If you could describe yourself in three (3) words, what would it be?

BETTS: Responsible, Creative, Encourager

IABC: Tell something about yourself people would be surprised to learn.

BETTS: My husband and I own a Harley…VROOM! VROOM!

IABC: What lesson(s) have you learned along the way that you believe has made you a better communications professional?

BETTS:

  1. Networking and business relationships are important. If you aren’t experienced in a particular topic, your fellow IABC members are willing to help you. So ask!
  1. It’s vital to stay up-to-date on communication techniques, technology and social media tools.
  1. You must keep learning, growing, and developing new skills.

 IABC: What makes an effective communications leader?

 BETTS: For success, you must know your audience, know your employees, and know your company. An effective communications leader also realizes that research, visuals and scientific data are increasingly important in this ever-changing field.

You also have to be great at time management and prioritization. And perhaps most importantly, you have to be willing to see what works and what doesn’t work and then adapt.

To have the greatest impact, don’t just focus on getting. Instead be intentional and have a passion for giving and serving others. Practice the “Golden Rule.”

IABC: What do you feel is the greatest benefit of IABC?

BETTS: The greatest benefit of IABC is learning the latest techniques and tools, networking, and making lifetime friends who support and teach you along your career and life paths.

IABC helped me tremendously when I began my career at TVA. Through this organization, I’ve gained invaluable skills in the areas of communication, marketing, teamwork and leadership.

IABC: What prompted you to join IABC?

BETTS: This year, I’m celebrating a decade of IABC membership! I joined the organization in 2005 to gain additional communication insights. And I’m so glad I did. I’ve had the opportunity to serve the Chapter in many roles from membership chair to president and Board member. It is a terrific organization in which to learn, network and serve!

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Member Spotlight – Gene Boulware

Gene BoulwareOn a continuous basis, IABC Nashville spotlights one of its diverse members through a Q&A feature. We are pleased to showcase Gene Boulware, director of communications for The Vincit Group.

IABC: What is your background?

BOULWARE: Food & beverage marketing and corporate communications.

IABC: How did you get started in this business?

BOULWARE: In 1990 I graduated from college with a degree in linguistics. I soon landed a job with Marriott Management Services, who looked to liberal arts majors to staff management roles. In time, I was soon developing new food marketing programs, instructional collateral and manual guides.

I continued on the track of food marketing for 16 years. In 2006, my employer changed as did my position. I began to add more public relations and organizational communication duties to my marketing role. Then five years ago, my position transitioned to a singular focus on corporate communications and public relations.

IABC: What is your current position and business affiliation? How long have your been in this role?

BOULWARE: I am the Director of Communications for The Vincit Group, a vertically-integrated organization that is comprised of nine separate companies that primarily focuses on food processing companies. I will be celebrating my 10th year in January 2016.

IABC: What makes your business/organization stand out?

BOULWARE: The Vincit Group is the only vertically-integrated products and services provider in the country that specializes in maximizing food processing efficiencies and food safety.

IABC: If you could describe yourself in three (3) words, what would it be?

BOULWARE: Determined, resilient and blessed.

IABC: Tell something about yourself people would be surprised to learn.

BOULWARE: I once lived on a 6 ½ square mile atoll in the south Pacific called Kwajalein for 3 years.

IABC: What lesson(s) have you learned along the way that you believe has made you a better communications professional?

BOULWARE: I have learned that print is unforgiving. I have also learned that great success comes to those with an open mind and patience.

IABC: What makes an effective communications leader?

BOULWARE: An effective communications leader must always understand that trust is at the heart of our profession. Without our publics’ trust, the ability to effectively execute our jobs is compromised. A strong understanding of the IABC Code of Ethics for Professional Communicators is an excellent place to start.

IABC: What do you feel is the greatest benefit of IABC?

BOULWARE: IABC Nashville offers an open environment where other communication professionals from across all disciplines can come together in a non-judgmental setting to learn from one another.

IABC: What prompted you to join IABC?

BOULWARE: It had to be the lunch meetings at Maggiano’s. Just kidding, I really joined IABC Nashville to expand my professional communications network and to expose myself to external perspectives. The food isn’t bad either.

 

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Member Spotlight Meet Paul Ladd

Paul-LaddOn a continuous basis, IABC Nashville spotlights one of its diverse members through a Q&A feature. We are pleased to showcase Paul Ladd, senior correspondent for World Christian Broadcasting. Ladd has been an IABC member for 10 years, is a former president of the Nashville Chapter and currently serves on the IABC Southern Region board of directors.

IABC: What is your background? LADD: My hometown is West Chester, PA. I am a graduate of Lenoir Community College in NC and Middle Tennessee State University. My experience has included broadcast and print journalism, advertising and a stint as Communications Director for the Tennessee Department of Human Services.

IABC: How did you get started in this business? LADD: In the 7th grade, I wrote for the school newspaper. My first story was about fire drills and bomb threats. I started in broadcast news at LCC’s student-run station.

IABC: What is your current position and business affiliation? How long have your been in this role? LADD: Senior Correspondent for World Christian Broadcasting. I’ve been with WCB for 9 years.

IABC: What makes your business/organization stand out? LADD: We care about our audience and take the time to make sure we’re providing quality programming.

IABC: If you could describe yourself in three (3) words, what would it be? LADD: Intense. Inquisitive. Loyal.

IABC: Tell something about yourself people would be surprised to learn. LADD: I have gone to Pilates for 14 years.

IABC: What lesson(s) have you learned along the way that you believe has made you a better communications professional?
LADD: 1) My Dad often told me the three rules for a good presentation are “get up, speak up, and shut up.” 2) Jan Stinson, with whom I worked at Armour&Armour Advertising, showed me that it’s possible to keep it short and simple and still be creative. 3) Connie Eckard, an IABC Fellow, said that if you don’t think about who you’re writing for, you’re wasting your time because you won’t be communicating. He also said that we should always be students; in other words, continually learning. 4) Phil Bell, who was a TV news producer at the station where I interned. He told me to read my copy and ask myself if people really talk like that. If the answer is no, it still needs work.

IABC: What makes an effective communications leader? LADD: The ability to be clear and concise. Avoid jargon and babble. As I tell people, “Make it so simple even I can understand it, and you’ll be OK.”

IABC: What do you feel is the greatest benefit of IABC? LADD: Professional development is the greatest. Networking opportunities and the friendships are close behind.

IABC: What prompted you to join IABC? LADD: A non-member friend emailed me about a luncheon and suggested I check it out. I did and met Marty Nord, who introduced me to many of the members and recruited me for a committee. Almost instantly, I felt right at home and the rest is history.

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