It’s that time of the week again: #GirlBossMonday!
Last week I featured a #GirlBoss from New York, USA, and this week we’re also keeping it stateside, but we’re heading West. Sarah Thornton is the president of Sarah Thornton Public Relations, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Sarah’s boutique firm has grown since opening in Las Vegas in 2007. Her team works with clients in Las Vegas and other major markets including Southern California, Phoenix and Denver. Sarah has worked with clients ranging from developers of high rise projects, top-ranked law firms and healthcare companies.
The reason I conduct these interviews is to inspire you, my readers, and fellow PR students to be successful in your careers and business leaders of the future. I have asked the important questions to gain an insight of how these #GirlBosses made it to where they are today, and how we can emulate their successes.
Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.
OC: Hi Sarah! An easy question to start us off (I hope) – What is your full job title?
ST: I am president of Sarah Thornton Public Relations, a boutique public relations firm in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
Can you give me a background of your career and education? How did this lead you to be in your PR position today?
I have a degree in public relations from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and started my public relations career while I was in college. I have worked for PR agencies and in-house for large corporations.
I started my own firm in June of 2007 and am celebrating 10 years in business this year.
How and why did you start your business?
Originally I started my own business because my son was in day-care more than 10 hours a day. I tried moving to a 4-day work week with the firm I was at, but it didn’t work. Ultimately, I wanted to have the freedom to work as much or as little as I needed depending on my son’s needs.
How did you go about securing your first client?
I was very fortunate in that my first client was the PR firm I had been working for. My second client came around the same time and was a referral from a former colleague. I have been busy and grateful for that ever since. My business is now primarily in real estate and professional services.
Where are you based? Does your job involve a lot of travelling?
I am based in Las Vegas. I had an office in Denver for six years as well. My clients work in Nevada, Arizona, California and South Dakota.
What does your morning routine look like?
I have two children now, so most of my mornings revolve around getting them ready for school! I also try to do a boot-camp class at my local Jiu-Jitsu gym before anyone wakes up. That’s MY time!
What do you find most rewarding and challenging about your role in PR?
I like to write, so I enjoy writing compelling stories about things my clients are doing.
PR has been called one of the most stressful professions in America, so I don’t think there is a shortage of challenges. I do like the challenges, and coming up with solutions that haven’t been thought of before.
How do you find the right work/life balance?
I’m fortunate to have some amazing mentors in PR, and most of them are women. We share the challenge of a career that often requires us to give something up to have the family time that we want and need.
I focus on working with clients that share my core values of work and family. There are times when we have projects or events that take us away from our families, but it isn’t on a regular basis.
What do you wish more people understood about PR?
That the White House doesn’t represent us. That we foster communication in all areas of business and life.
If you were to hire someone for a PR role, what skills and qualities would your ideal candidate have?
I have learned that most people don’t have all the skill sets needed, so I work with people who are great at what they do and work around the rest.
Some people are great at pitching stories and working with the news media, but are not great writers. And some are great writers but not great with journalists. I make it work because talent is talent.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the PR industry today?
Communicating the positive stories in an era where there is so much negativity.
Who has been your biggest role model in your career so far?
My journalism professor in college has been one of my strongest mentors and advocates for the past 20 years. Her name is Mary Hausch. She advocates for her former students and with the same passion as issues she feels strongly about. I admire her and appreciate her.
Can you give three tips for someone wanting to start their own PR agency?
If you want to start your own firm, you’ll need to be a self-starter. Some people need the structure of an office environment and some are more efficient on their own.
You should also pursue clients and business that you think align with your own values. And make the same determination when prospective clients are referred to you. You also don’t have to take any opportunity that comes your way.
What advice would you give to a student like myself that wants to emulate your success and make it in the PR industry?
There is no replacement for experience, even when you are a student. When I was a student, I went to my classes in the morning, worked at an internship in the afternoon and at a restaurant in the evening to pay for the other two!
When I completed my degree, I had a job offer from my internship and one from another agency because I had an edge over other students who had no experience.
Thank you, Sarah ♥
You can visit Sarah Thornton PR’s website at www.sarahthorntonpr.com
Follow Sarah on Twitter : @SarahTPR
Follow Sarah on LinkedIn : @SarahThornton
Follow Sarah on Instagram : @sarahthornton0909