Membership Spotlight – Nicole Miller

On a continuous basis, IABC Nashville spotlights its diverse members through a Q&A feature. We are pleased to showcase Nicole Miller, senior manager of Public Relations at Asurion.

Nicole Headshot - smIABC: What is your background?

Miller: I’ve had a passion for news since I was young, serving as an editor of my high school newspaper and editor-in-chief of the year book. I received my Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (go Badgers!), where I majored in Journalism with an emphasis in news writing and public relations. My first job after college was working as a general assignment reporter for a community newspaper in Wisconsin. While there, I learned a lot about what makes a compelling news story and delivering the news under tight deadlines.

IABC: How did you get started in this business?

Miller: I started my PR career at a firm in Milwaukee that specializes in B2B marketing communications. When my main client merged with a national retailer, I was totally bit by the consumer bug and moved to Chicago, where I worked in the consumer PR for a variety of major agencies. I’m a rare PR egg in that I have gained strong experience and expertise in both consumer and B2B PR.

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

Miller: I currently serve as Senior Manager of Public Relations at Asurion, a global leader in technology protection and support, based in Nashville. My role has been evolving since I joined the company a little over a year ago, but ultimately I’ll be focusing on external corporate PR to help elevate awareness of Asurion’s leadership position within the industry and with national business media.

IABC: What makes your business/organization stand out?

Miller: Asurion is the global leader in helping customers enhance their life through their technology through ongoing support and protection. Among our continuous innovation is that we’re hyper focused on disrupting the tech support category with world-class customer experience by providing instant access to tech experts to help solve any tech issue with an Asurion covered device. There’s no waiting on hold, no transfers and a near 100 percent resolution rate in one call or chat.

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

Miller: Strategic. Curious. Collaborative.

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

Miller: My husband and I moved to Nashville from Chicago to be closer to our hobby of caving. Tennessee has more than 10,000 caves, and the tri-state region of Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia is a mecca for caving within the United States.

Caving offers a little bit of everything – the beauty and wonder of nature; great physical challenges and an intense teamwork structure. It’s quite common to put your life in your team members’ hands when caving, so trust and team dynamic are vital to the experience.

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

Miller:

  • The Communications function is most effective when it closely supports the organization’s key objectives.
  • Make your communications goals actionable and measurable.
  • Don’t drink the Kool-Aid. The usual marketing messages rarely resonate with earned media or within social media.
  • Become an expert in your organization’s (or clients’) industry.
  • Stay current on new communication channels and tactics

IABC: What makes an effective communications leader?

Miller:

  • Mastery of communications channels and tactics.
  • Being up-to-date on the issues, challenges and opportunities within your organization and greater industry.
  • Serving as a trusted advisor to your leadership and team.
  • Curiosity and openness to trying new things as the communications landscape continuous to evolve.

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

Miller: I know it’s been said before, but networking and professional development are some of the greatest benefits for me personally.

IABC: What prompted you to join IABC?

Miller: Being new to Nashville, I joined IABC to network and get immersed within the communications community locally. I heard that the Nashville IABC chapter was the most active group for local communications professionals.

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Member Spotlight – Lysa Rigo

On a continuous basis, IABC Nashville spotlights its diverse members through a Q&A feature. We are pleased to showcase Lysa Rigo, Director, HR & Creative Services at Ingram Barge Company. Lysa and her team recently won their first Music City Gold Pen Award of Excellence for Internal Communications.

Lysa RigoIABC: What is your background? How did you get started in this business?

Rigo: After earning a master’s degree in English at Northern Illinois University, I taught Composition and Business Writing (that’s where I found my passion) for five years. Following that, I gained experience as a technical writer for a mathematical and engineering software firm, and used some of those years to start a small business writing for other businesses who couldn’t afford a writer on staff.

In the mid-1990s, my family moved to Brazil, so I used the opportunity to teach English as a foreign language. When we returned to the States in 2000, I found a job teaching English to students who came to the US solely to improve their English. That enriching experience gained me friends from all over the world, and that’s where I was on 9/11, helping a large group of frightened foreigners try to make sense of something none of us could wrap our minds around.

In the mid-2000s, we moved to Tennessee for my husband’s job. A series of situations led me into a career in human resources where I had to quickly learn how to hire, fire, do payroll and worker’s comp in a plant that was scheduled to shut its doors in nine months. On the last day, I stood alone with the plant manager in an empty building and was faced with the decision of accepting the HR job I was offered or the Communications Specialist role? Communications tugged at my heart, and here I am today.

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

Rigo: I came to Ingram Barge Company 10 years ago to build a Communications department. Today, I am Director, HR & Creative Services. My team does all Corporate Communications and all things creative: web, social, magazines, photos, videos, and many random projects.

IABC: What makes your business/organization stand out?

Rigo: Barging is a silent industry so it doesn’t necessarily stand out, but Ingram does all things with excellence so we’re looked to as the standard on the inland river system; we’re the ones to imitate, the company to work for.

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

Rigo: Empathetic, resilient, and instinctive

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

Rigo: Probably not surprising, but I became fluent in Portuguese while living in Brazil.

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

Rigo:

  • What I’ve been working on the past year is that it’s OK not to be perfect; none of us are. Details are critical in communications, but it’s so important to let go and let the message shine more loudly than the form.
  • When there are mistakes, don’t beat yourself up over them. Fix them, if needed, and walk proudly forward. So what if the whole organization sees your daily work? Most people will give you grace, so don’t listen to the few who find joy in the “got-yas.”
  • You need to learn from the younger professionals in the field. They may not know all there is in the politics, strategy or big picture, but they know what they want to hear so they will have good ideas for connecting with others like them.

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

Rigo: After developing our Creative Services department, I spent a seven-year hiatus with a focus more on HR than communications, A few years ago, I got a new boss and a reshuffling of duties, and Creative Services became my major focus again. I needed to connect with communications professionals, and Google led me to IABC. I walked into my first meeting and knew I was in the right place. These people get me, and I get them. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

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Member Spotlight Genma Holmes

Genma Stringer HolmesOn a continuous basis, IABC highlights one of its diverse members through a Q&A feature. We are pleased to showcase Genma Holmes, owner of Holmes Pest Control and CEO of GSH Media Group. Holmes has been an IABC member for more than a year.

IABC:            What is your background?

HOLMES:     I am an exterminator and radio producer.

 

IABC:            How did you get started in your business?

HOLMES:     I fell into both careers by accident. Not one was part of a planned decision…both were opportunities that I took a chance on.

 

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

HOLMES:     I am the owner of Holmes Pest Control and CEO of GSH Media Group. I have been with HPC 23 years and GSH Media Group for 11 years.

 

IABC:            What makes your business/organization stand out?

HOLMES:     As a female in the pest control industry, it is still a big deal to owners and operators – – even after 20-plus years in the business. However, the fact that I wear a Santa suit several months out of the year keeps my competitors on their toes…year round (smile).

 

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

HOLMES:     Risktaker, visionary, determined.

 

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

HOLMES:     I LOVE classical music.

 

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

HOLMES:     I am willing to think outside-of-the-box. If you want to reach potential customers as well as listeners, you have to try new things. My goal is to mold them into not only becoming a customer/client, but a “raving fan” who will share my message with the masses.

 

IABC:            What makes an effective communications leader?

HOLMES:     You have to be willing to listen to what is being said and to be discerning of a message that may be unspoken. Oftentimes, the key is what someone is not sharing with you.

 

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

HOLMES:     The organization allows me to hear from key influencers who are willing to teach, and not just promote.

 

IABC:             What prompted you to join IABC?

HOLMES:      K. Dawn Rutledge… I initially contacted Dawn about IABC, and she encouraged me to look at the bigger picture. The bigger picture has always been a national client base or local trendsetters with substance who have national and international influence. She has shown me how, by her actions, to focus on building strong relationships with a few versus networking with the multitude. During my very first IABC meeting in January 2013, I left the meeting with six new customers. I was hooked at “Hello, I need your pest control service.”

 

 

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