In May, Kelly Howard, CEO and self-proclaimed HBIC of EightSixtySouth, a strategic communications agency with a focus on fashion, beauty and lifestyle public relations won the BCA’s 2018 Bloom Award – Communicator of the Year. This well-deserved honor goes to a PR professional that undertook the rebranding and expansion of Post+Beam to become what is now EightSixtySouth, while landing the agency recognition and success with clients, such as SEPHORA, Facebook and Lokai. With over 10 years of experience in the industry, Kelly’s contributions to the lifestyle and fashion PR industries sets her apart. A proud Iowa State alumna Kelly serves as the President of Iowa State Alumni of Los Angeles.
How does it feel to win the Bloom Award? How are you going to celebrate?
It’s truly an honor – since the launch of EightSixtySouth, we’ve had some amazing wins and #proudpublicist moments, however, you don’t always give yourself the time to reflect and admire all that you’ve done – you’re just in it. Being recognized by PR Couture gave me an opportunity to take a pause and look back at everything 860S has accomplished in the last year – and it’s been a truly amazing feat, something I couldn’t have done without the support of my team, friends and an incredible network of individuals and businesses – including PR Couture. Celebrations usually call for champagne – and the team at 860S made sure to take that responsibility seriously the day the award was announced.
In your eyes, what sets you apart from other communicators in the field?
This one is tough – I’m fortunate enough to be connected with so many amazing women & communicators in my field, each of us with a unique skill set and passion for what we do, that it’s hard to say what sets one of us apart from the other. I think when you love what you do, and you value the people and team that you do it with, amazing things can happen – and people feel that.
How do you plan to tackle the rest of 2018? What are a few things you’d like to focus on?
For starters, how is it already July?! At the end of 2017, we hosted a team retreat where we all set goals for 2018, and I reminded the team last week that we were halfway there…and had we accomplished them. Let’s just say it was a reality check for all of us – time flies when you’re having fun. That being said, I would love for the remainder of 2018 to be focused on refining what it means to be EightSixtySouth – our mission, our clients, our company, our team – and how we can apply that to success for the company and ourselves.
Know that you’re not alone, rely on your network and continue to build, staying authentic to who you are and what you love. The rest will come.
What advice do you have for communicators who haven’t had such a successful year?
Keep going. Keep learning. Keep driving forward. The world of communication has changed so rapidly in the last five years that sometimes it feels like we’re all still figuring it out. Know that you’re not alone, rely on your network and continue to build, staying authentic to who you are and what you love. The rest will come.
In a few sentences, tell us what your goals are/ what we can expect to see from your agency in the future.
Growth while remaining grounded to who we are – we’ve had the opportunity in the past year to work on some truly amazing projects, with more in the wings I’m humbled and excited to be a part of. I’m looking forward to the journey these new paths will take us on and can’t wait to see how the team and company evolve as a result.
If we looked inside your purse/work bag right now, what PR survival must-haves would we find?
iPhone and charger – cliche, but true. My wallet & business cards – never know who you’re going to meet! Being the boss also means always having a CC for the team on hand when they need. Skinn Cosmetics Hand Restore with SPF – they say the first place you show age is your hands, desperately trying to avoid that. Makeup bag for touch-ups on the go. Dog leash – we have a very dog-friendly office, a key perk when trying to maintain that work/life balance!
Anything else you’d like us to know?
Just a huge thanks to Crosby and PR Couture – she’s been an amazing friend and colleague throughout the years and I can’t thank her enough for the network she’s built.