Faulhaber Communications [TCO] hit a major milestone celebrating its 20th anniversary today.
PR In Canada took some time to talk to Christine Faulhaber, President & CEO about her journey over the last 20 years and the agency she founded on May 18, 2001
What did you do before launching the agency?
My career started in fashion. I cut my teeth working for fashion giant Dylex then worked for Canadian fashion designer Joeffer Caoc. I did everything from trade shows to planning runway shows to being the fit model. I even did a fashion shoot with Daria Werbowy right before her career skyrocketed.
What made you launch your own agency? I saw an opportunity.
No one was helping the retailers make a splash. Zola Shoes, Finishing Touches and Over the Rainbow were some of the early clients. I didn’t have a PR background but I had the gut ability to identify exactly what my clients needs to create noise and increase sales. In the beginning my work was everything from trunk shows to setting up newsletters to encouraging my clients to invest in proper signage to pitching media. The customized approach was inherent in the business from day one and is still one of FAULHABER’s core values.
Toughest client you had to win, and how did you win it?
Winning Genesis Motors Canada in 2016 was a pivotal moment for the agency. Not only was it a major scope of work, integrated digital and PR, but we were up against bigger shops. We went in with a smart and unique perspective which grabbed their attention. However we had to do two follow up meetings to prove we could manage the digital and content scope, which we successful did. We worked with Genesis for 2.5 years and it was definitely an exciting client for the agency.
What are some of the biggest ways the public relations industry has changed in the last 5 years?
Our industry has faced tremendous change over the last five years. AI and digital transformation will continue to cause further disruption. The first decade of the agency was the good old days where you could get your brand on TV by just gifting it. Those days are long gone. The media landscape has changed so much and resources are lean. It’s much more challenging to get traditional earned media wins. Social media has also altered the way people get their information and get exposed to new things. From TikTok to Instagram to Clubhouse, there are so many other ways to get our clients’ brands out to their audience. Right now we are working on live shopping events with our clients – a long departure from the old press previews or junkets from years past. Not to say our clients don’t love getting traditional media wins – they still do, and we still appreciate our media friends.
The average business does not survive 5 years, how did you make it to 20?
Grit. Staying committed to our entrepreneurial spirit and always looking for the next opportunity. We have and always will be futurists and early adopters with our finger on the pulse of what is next. Relationships is another core value of the agency that has led to our success. We go above and beyond for our clients and have retained many clients for 5+ years and several for over a decade. We focus a lot on our internal processes and development for our team. This has helped us keep a lot of key talent for many years.
Has COVID-19 been the biggest impact you have seen on the business landscape? If so, what is 2nd?
Social media 2.0 and the digital transformation of the planet is actually the biggest change to the business landscape, and one that is going to continue to evolve. The rapid innovation is tricky. Exciting and scary altogether.
What advice do you have for brands to go the distance as you have and last 20 years?
As a service business, your processes and relationships are all you have. Make a playbook as you go to capture all the magic. Make sure your team knows what is expected and how to do what you do well. Spend time developing your brand. Find its purpose, voice and heartbeat.
So after 20 years, what is next?
The next 20! We will continue to take good care of our team by upgrading their knowledge and by loving our clients. It’s important to keep our eye on providing value every day. That means always-on innovation.