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 — Elise Shelton

Eliseheadshot

On a continuous basis, IABC Nashville spotlights one of its diverse members through a Q&A feature. We are pleased to showcase Elise Shelton, Chief Communications Officer, Clarksville-Montgomery County School System

IABC:            What is your background?

SHELTON:     Organizational communications and daily newspapers.

 

IABC:            How did you get started in your business?

SHELTON:    I left the Nashville Banner in 1987 after working in newspapers for almost a decade. After newspapers, I began work in corporate communications, first at a magazine printing company, then a Nashville hospital and now for a public school system.


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

SHELTON:     I am Chief Communications Officer for Clarksville-Montgomery County School System. I just started my 20th year here.


IABC:            What makes your business/organization stand out?

SHELTON:     Public schools are at an unprecedented time of scrutiny, accountability and competition. Communications during this time is critical.


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

SHELTON:     According to my StrengthsFinder assessment, my strongest characteristics fall into these categories: Arranger (detail person/control freak), Communication and WOO (Winning Others Over, which should help offset any friction I create when I’m ‘arranging’).


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

SHELTON:    I’m pretty transparent, but some may not know that I taught at a bilingual school in South America right after college.


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

SHELTON:     There’s always something new to learn so be open and never assume someone has nothing to teach you. And, just because you have a sarcastic wit doesn’t mean you should use it.


IABC:           
What makes an effective communications leader?

SHELTON:     Recognition of the powerful responsibility of this position and using it wisely. You can be the translator, the trust-builder, the sense-maker, the strategist, the barrier breaker and so much more.


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

SHELTON:     Keeping up with communication trends and access to the thoughts and teachings of international communication leaders.


IABC:             What prompted you to join IABC?

SHELTON:      When I started work at St. Thomas in 1989 to replace Elizabeth Latt, Liz had been an IABC member and encouraged me to join. It has been IABC love ever since, leading me to join the board, become president and be involved on the IABC District level. As a seasoned communicator, I continue to see value in this organization and have encouraged others to become involved.

 

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Member Spotlight – Lynn Yates

 

 

 

Lynn Yates_pink

On a continuous basis, IABC Nashville spotlights one of its diverse members through a Q&A feature. We are pleased to showcase Lynn Yates, Marketing Manager, Yates Construction.

 

 

IABC:         What is your background?

  • YATES:     B.S. Media Management MTSU
  • Voice-Over Professional (1992-Present)
  • Professional Spokesperson for a variety of corporations (1999 – Present)
  • Host of TriStar Health’s TV health commercial HealthBreak (1999-2012)
  • Nearly 12 years in corporate communications at HCA/HealthTrust Purchasing Group (1997-2008
  • Freelance writer and media consultant (2008-2012)

 

 

IABC:      How did you get started in this business?

YATES:     I grew up in a family of writers … for as long as I can remember, I have always loved to read and write. So, majoring in communications was a perfect discipline for me, a single mom who attended classes and worked a couple of jobs and an internship throughout my journey toward earning a degree … clearly, one of my proudest moments.

 

Following college, corporate communications was a natural fit; I was very fortunate to work for a company like HCA that allowed me to do all the things I did best and loved most as I honed my corporate skills. A few years after joining the company, I was asked by a former HCA marketing employee to audition for the spokesperson role for HealthBreak, the Company’s two minute health-related television commercial airing in about 30 markets at the time. From there, I sort of fell into additional voice-over work. My training ground for professional VO work was extremely grassroots … I was the kid who loved to read out loud in class, which gave me lots of opportunities to practice not having a southern accent. Having been born and raised in East Tennessee, I was determined to lose any hint of a Tennessee twang, though I am very proud of my southern heritage. I enjoyed voicing everything from radio commercials and call-in talk shows to corporate videos, television commercials and university talk shows. My current full time position doesn’t allow quite as much time for VO work although I still have a few corporate clients who call on my for various projects.

 

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

YATES:     I made the decision to leave HCA in 2008 when both of my sons graduated college. If I was going to spread my freelance creative wings, that was the perfect time. I enjoyed writing, voice-overs, and occasional acting work in the local market until I realized in 2011 that I actually missed being part of a team. I joined Yates Construction in January 2012 as Marketing Manager … a position that has challenged my creative skills in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

 

IABC:     What makes your business/organization stand out?

YATES:     Yates Construction is a 50 year old family-owned and privately-held business headquartered in Philadelphia, Miss. The company is practically a household name along the Gulf Coast, yet relatively unknown in other areas such as Nashville. As Yates sought ways to enhance its name in healthcare construction, the company hired a team of seasoned healthcare veterans to open an office in Nashville, the mecca of corporate healthcare. I work with a fantastic group of professionals who offer me opportunities each day to color way outside the lines to define ways to promote our company along with our vast product and services offering.

 

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

YATES:     Resourceful, tenacious, loyal

 

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

YATES:     Though most people think of me as outgoing, I am actually fairly shy.

 

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

YATES:     Good communications professionals start with being great listeners.

 

IABC:     What makes an effective communications leader?

YATES:     An effective communications leader knows his/her audience, listens intently and reads between the lines. She draws from the collective strengths of those she leads, invites new ideas and innovative tools, and isn’t afraid to change what isn’t working or could be improved.

 

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

YATES:     IABC provides amazing resources and networking opportunities to communications professionals. The organization has been one of the most influential and empowering forces in my career development.

 

IABC:     What prompted you to join IABC?

YATES:     Several years ago, a friend who now lives in Seattle invited me to an IABC meeting. And the rest, you know.

 

 

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