By Keri Barker

F+A Spotlight: Meet Our Talented Intern

Next month, our fantastic intern Emily Pate will be moving to Michigan to begin another adventure. Emily has been an incredible asset to client work and agency projects alike, and her vibrant energy makes her someone everyone loves to be around. We’ve truly enjoyed working with her and watching her grow professionally.

Meet our talented intern:

The first day on the Wonderland Trail, Emily covered 18 miles. She also injured her leg. She kept going, and finished her goal of spending a week on the trail, completing 80+ miles. Emily brings that kind of determination, love of challenge, and optimism to her internship here at F+A. Emily works on multiple client accounts and has become an indispensable part of F+A’s own social media outreach team.

 Emily’s love of writing and creative problem-solving led her into the world of PR and communications early on. She graduated from Seattle University with a BA in Strategic Communications and several internships under her belt. From writing blogs and co-producing podcasts for individuals with disabilities at Rooted in Rights, to working on communications and outreach for LPFM Seattle Radio, to managing social media at Evado PR, Emily refined her skills while earning her degree.

One of Emily’s overriding goals is to use her communication skills to solve real-world problems. That’s evidenced every day in her work here at F+A, and outside the agency as the Communications Director of Survivor Support Network (SSN), a non-profit group whose mission is to support students who have experienced sexual assault and domestic violence. Emily’s favorite quote is by Angela Davis – “I’m no longer accepting the things I cannot change, I’m changing the things I cannot accept.” And she’s doing just that.

When Emily’s not working in her chosen profession, she’s drawing, traveling, enjoying time with friends and family, and planning her next hike. In fact, she’s preparing to tackle another long-distance trail after finishing this internship. We won’t say “break a leg” given her earlier injury, but we’re thrilled she’s headed back to one of her favorite areas and wish her a safe journey!

By Keri Barker

At F+A, Learning to Embrace the Constancy of Change

We used to enjoy the quaint brick facades and cement dragons adorning the old buildings here in South Lake Union.  Now trucks, bulldozers and hardhats are everywhere, razing those old buildings within a day or two—but the smell of rotting wood, damp foundation and crumbling brick is gone and the area feels more energetic and optimistic.

We used to make a quick trip across the alley to Paddy’s for an after-hours beverage and conversation.  Paddy’s doors are permanently locked now—but that quirky metal dog sculpture still greets passersby and we now enjoy after-hours wine-tastings and stories gathered around the big cement altar in the center of our office.

We used to be able to see the Blue Angels practice and watch the July 4th fireworks show from the office rooftop.   A large new building now blocks our view —but it’s beautiful and the sun reflecting off its window panels creates its own striking light show.

Change is constant.  It can be good, or not, depending on your point of view.  Here at F+A change always presents an opportunity to learn and grow.  We thrive on it.  Whether we’re welcoming a new employee, partner or client, we appreciate the reciprocal nature of the relationship.  We enjoy learning from the new party as much as we enjoy sharing our expertise with them.

Our internship program embodies that idea of constant change and mutual benefit.  The program offers interns the opportunity to work with every member of the agency and participate in almost every client account. Interns are encouraged to bring their own ideas to the table, participate in meetings, and add value to the agency and our clients while they learn, grow and refine their own skills.

Interns who thrive here enjoy problem solving, responsibility and autonomy.  They’re proactive and hold themselves accountable to clients and coworkers as well as their own high standards—marks of a true professional.

We’ve had the pleasure of working with a number of talented interns over the years.  Completing the internship opens many doors—whether it’s at F+A, another agency, in-house or at a non-profit—our interns leave the program with skills and contacts they can use anywhere.  It’s always bittersweet when they finish the program and make their next career move, but we look forward to welcoming the next new intern.  Did I mention that change is constant?

By Mark Firmani

All that Glitters Is Not Gold: The Tough Side of PR

Working alongside our many successful clients, we get great satisfaction in seeing the contribution of our work. Being part of a productive, vibrant client/agency relationship is truly one of the reasons I enjoy our work so much.

But often we are called upon to help companies – and to a much lesser extent individuals – weather tough situations. We’ve worked on a lot of difficult issues in our 22 years: kids sickened by contaminated beef; companies brought down by the illegal or improper actions of its leadership; businesses caught in economic sea changes that force them to make difficult choices in their attempts to keep operations afloat.

In each of these instances, we’ve always told our clients that the fastest, safest and most direct way out of a crisis is to be abundantly transparent and completely honest. Generally speaking, as a culture we are willing to forgive (and forget) as long as people are straight up and honest. Conversely, organizations that try to gild the lily, attempt to slide by with half-truths or point fingers in other directions are in for rough sledding.

What I am saying is the work we do as professional communicators isn’t all upbeat and fun. In fact, some of the work we have to do is downright crappy.

Recently we helped a client through a tough situation, culminating in a horrible day; having to break the news to their staff that the company was closing their operations after being a vibrant part of the community for many years.

Through a set of unimportant circumstances, colleague Annie Alley and I were tapped to help hand out WARN notices to understandably shaken and often tearful employees. The company did everything they could to do right by their team members, with extended job placement assistance and generous severance, but it was a dark day for all involved. It was a humbling experience for us, but not nearly as impactful a day as it was for those on the other side of the table.

For those who are considering a career in communications, just remember what the Bard said: “All that glisters (cq) is not gold.” PR and communication work is not all happy stuff.

By Caroline Emde

A Firmani + Associates internship is #MoreThanMakingCoffee

They say that when one door closes, another opens. Well, as I close my internship at F+A and prepare to walk through the garage door of opportunity that has opened in my professional life, I’d like to take a moment and reflect on my time here at Fairview Avenue North.

This has been my third communications industry internship – the first in an agency setting – and I can honestly say that I’ve learned more from my time at F+A than the two others combined.

The learning is magnified and the experience is unique.  Yes, you are an ‘intern,’ but one who gets real, hands on, account coordinator-level experience.  From the first week, I was editing press releases, sitting in on meetings, collaborating on strategy and drafting content – all efforts essential to the collective team and agency’s operations.

After four months, I’ve fine-tuned my communication skills, gained valuable industry knowledge and am proud to be walking away with:

  • Strong writing samples – From press releases, media alerts and corresponding coverage reports to comprehensive research whitepapers, I am now armed with an arsenal of proud writing samples that involve notable clients from across the Puget Sound region.
  • Experience pitching and communicating with journalists – Building relationships with influencers and enticing journalists to read and run with the material is half the battle. Whether communicating via email or over the phone, I feel more confident in my ability to pitch a story, garner feedback and see it through to print.
  • Familiarity with media and outreach monitoring – Optimizing platforms like Metro Monitor, Sysomos and Hootsuite put you on the pulse of information. I’ve learned that monitoring coverage not only provides valuable earned media metrics, but attentively listening to industry trends and avidly monitoring news paves the way for timely and creative content.
  • Exposure to crisis situations and strategy – F+A has a wide range of clients, from tech to healthcare, to organizations weathering a communications crisis. The agency is home to crisis experts; they know how to successfully navigate, advise and guide organizations through what may seem like a disaster. I’ll venture to say it’s been fascinating and enlightening to watch strategies unfold and see clients back on their feet and back in business once again.
  • A newfound appreciation for Google – Google is your friend; use it, abuse it, peruse it, choose it, schmooze it, news it and DON’T lose it (how do you think I found all these great words that rhyme?) But in all seriousness, research is the foundation to any successful strategy and when used strategically, Google can be an optimal research tool resting at your fingertips.

And yes – let’s not forget, a talent for brewing a very strong pot of coffee. Every morning the interns may be responsible for making a fresh pot of coffee and every evening we might clean out the grounds – but in between, nothing resembles your typical intern “grunt work.” Simply put, the F+A internship experience is way #MoreThanMakingCoffee.

By Mark Firmani

Refund?! Refund?!

As a Hoosier, I hold a handful of movies to be among the best and brightest; films that show good Midwestern values, the value of hard work and competitiveness.  Of course, I speak of the venerated “Indiana Trilogy” – RudyHoosiers and Breaking Away.   Read more

F+A Spotlight: Meet Our Talented Intern
At F+A, Learning to Embrace the Constancy of Change
All that Glitters Is Not Gold: The Tough Side of PR
A Firmani + Associates internship is #MoreThanMakingCoffee