Kim Marshall, 62: Multi-Generational PR

    Kim Marshall is a communications expert fearlessly navigating the digital. Together with her multi-generational team, she finds creative, inspiring ways to tell stories, including through the Global Wellness Summit podcast.

    We met Kim last fall while speaking at The Global Wellness Summit in Singapore and were fascinated by this humble, direct Midwesterner who is fearlessly throwing herself into the world of PR digital communications. All those stories about people our age not being able to learn new things, or slowing down and pulling back…well, that is not happening with Kim. Powered by her curiosity and 25 years of PR experience, and backed up with a smile that won’t quit, she is a force. 

    Where are you from?

    Alliance, Ohio — the home of the Genie Garage Door Opener.

    “Our roots make us who we are”

    Me too! I’m from Cleveland. What’s it like for you being from there, and now living in LA traveling around the world?

    I left the Midwest at 15 when my family moved to Florida. I went to college in Maryland and then began working in the travel/hospitality and spa industry for airlines, destinations and hotels. It has taken me everywhere from Tahiti to Turkey and lots of places in between. But you just can’t forget your roots — I learn so much about this country every time I pull a chair up beside my Uncle Jack who is a great father & grandfather still in that Ohio town and who was a blue-collar factory worker all his life.  

    I don’t forget for a moment that our roots make us who we are.  And, I think it has also made me remember to get to know real people in whatever country I visit — to get an authentic picture of the place. And, hopefully, that attitude helps me craft insightful questions for people we interview on the podcast from around the world who attend or support the Global Wellness Summit.

    Multi-Generational PR Team

    PR is often thought of as a younger person’s job, but clearly it is not. What does your life experience bring to your work?

    Maybe the frontline part of the work is, but for big picture, cohesive plans, it always helps to have a multi-generational team. For one thing, the contacts you’ve built up over time make things happen more quickly. For instance, I work with one of the hippest restaurant companies in the world since they have a restaurant at one of our hotel clients in LA, The Orlando Hotel on West Third. Recently, the seven-person team — of mostly millennials, Gen Z’s and boomers — worked for four months on creating a New Year’s Eve event at the restaurant, which had never had one before. There was no precedent that it would draw a crowd but week by week we chipped away together at every goal, each of us bringing something unique to the effort (happily, our established contacts saved the restaurant thousands of dollars in entertainment costs), and we ended up with a sold-out bangin’ event where that same range of generations danced the night away. 

    Here’s what Erica Pressberg, the Marketing Director of The Orlando Hotel in LA says about working with us: “There’s nothing like the combination of experience and adaptability. Kim’s team goes above and beyond and uses a multi-generational approach to procuring press for their clients based on long-term relationships and the ability to be open-minded in an ever-changing industry.”  

    The Thrill of Finding New Ways to Communicate

    What excites you about your work?

    The possibilities. It’s still so much fun when clients tell you their dreams and ideas and you craft them into a story or an event that links to the zeitgeist…and then journalists and the public react positively to it. I also love crafting strategic alliances. One of my mentors — Alex Szekely from the founding family of spas in North America — always said you can gain so much more traction by connecting to someone else’s momentum. It sounds cliché, but it really is all about creating a win/win. 

    And also, I LOVE trying something new. Communications and storytelling is the leitmotif of what I do, but continuing to find new ways to do that is a thrill. Besides producing and hosting a podcast for the first time this year, I also wrote animation scripts for the first time for a cool, new gender-neutral-skincare-line client. Working hand in hand with the founder of the line and the animator, it was a joy to help make a very complex story come to life via six very different characters. 

    Communicating Wellness

    What are your specialties?

    Travel, hospitality, lifestyle, but most specifically, “wellness.” In fact, so much so, I co-founded a PR firm for wellness brands called S’Well Communications.  I was fortunate enough to start out as a dancer, then a dance critic, then a lifestyle journalist writing about theater, books & travel. In the midst of a budding freelance writing career that started when I was nearly done with my bachelor’s degree, I got a job at an airline to feed my love of travel. It was equal opportunity then and, in spite of my background, I drew the straw that put me on the tarmac parking planes and loading luggage! A few months and free trips later, I took a leap at a job posting and got promoted to the airline’s corporate PR department. Eventually I was hired away by a hospitality PR firm … then by one of their client hotels … and then a famous spa hired me to do their onsite PR. And, it just so happened that my career coincided with the explosion of the spa industry — from 50 across the country to more than 120,000 around the world today.