Leeann Froese is Co-Owner of Town Hall Brands, a marketing agency based in Vancouver BC, specializing in food, drink, and hospitality brands. She calls herself the “air traffic controller” for her company: she oversees her team while interacting with clients, building her business, and collaborating with industry and media. Outside of the office, she is a mom of two boys and very involved with the South Vancouver Little League, and as a Cub Scout Leader. (She also tells us that she secretly loves to bird watch and is a self proclaimed “bird nerd”).
In addition to being a member of Canadian Women in Public Relations, Leeann is involved with the BC Chapter of Les Dames d’ Escoffier, a society of professional women supporting women in careers related to wine, food and hospitality. She is a huge wine lover and was the organization’s first official ambassador for Canada!
Name: Leeann Froese
Business: Town Hall Brands
Describe yourself in 3 words: Go Get It.
Education: College Graduate
Social Media: @townhallbrands or @leeannwine
What inspired you to start your own PR agency? – After being partner in a different agency where I had worked for 16 years, that agency closed, so I reopened a new firm with my husband, who had his own successful graphic design firm. We already shared many clients, so it was a natural evolution.
What was your first job in public relations and what did you take away from the experience? – I first did media relations when I worked for the BC Wine Institute in 1997. I had no formal training at first and I learned on the job. I learned fast and I learned that public relations was just that, relations. Those early relationships and editors that were patient with me helped set a foundation until I earned my PR certificate, which I went back to school for while working full time.
How did you discover your passion for working in PR? – I love people and uncovering their stories; finding that nugget that everyone else will find interesting too.
How do you prioritize and start your work day? – I take my son to school and then arrive at my desk (kind of late for some) around 9:15am. I start by checking in with my team to see if they need anything reviewed or if they have questions. Then I look at my emails. I generally set two goals for myself in a day and aim to work on my own work for 4 hours.
Have you had any challenges in your PR career? –
The biggest challenges usually come when I have to tell a client that a topic that is big news to them is in fact not newsworthy.
On the flip side of that the usual publicist challenges apply, such as having a story that I can completely visualize and see come to life in my mind, but then no outlets are interested in pursuing it!
What is one of the greatest misconceptions about the field of public relations? – That PR is “spin” to make an untrue story that PR people want told, and that all we do is schmooze or go out socializing.
What is your greatest achievement in your PR career? – It was pretty flattering when a major broadcaster told one of my publicists that our segment booking sheets (which I developed) are the best ones around! However, for me a truly big win is when one of my team members or someone I have supervised in the past has gone on to be successful, has landed some client coverage and then they tell me it is because of something that they learned from me. That’s one of the most rewarding parts of what I do.
What are your tips for setting yourself apart in the PR workplace? –
Be responsive, and do things when you say you will – or sooner. Media remembers this and will come back to you if you are reliable.
What advice would you give to your younger self?- Relax, you’ve got this. It’s ok to trust yourself.
How can a new PR graduate set themselves apart in the hiring process? – I cannot stress this enough: be a good writer with a strong vocabulary and a good command of the English language. All the rest can be taught.
What’s next? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? – That’s a tough one. We turn 3 in July and I feel like we are just getting started. In 5 years, I’m hoping that we will have successfully launched a few new brands, and that our current clients have become household names.