Q&A with Foggies Standout Tactic of the Year winner, Lynn Harris Medcalf
We sat down virtually with our 2021 Foggies winners to get to know them better! This year's Standout Tactic of the Year award went to independent practitioner Lynn Harris Medcalf for "Believe in Banking: Platform with a Purpose," a program on behalf of her client, Adrenaline. Read on to learn more about Lynn Harris Medcalf!
Tell us more about yourself
I have been a public relations practitioner for more than 25 years. PR is my passion. I genuinely believe that organizations of all sizes deserve good public relations counsel and that companies could solve many of their business challenges with the right communications staff and structure. In 1997, I cofounded and headed operations for a successful boutique media relations firm – a role I held for 16 years – leaving in 2013 to focus on building deeper client relationships with longer, more strategic engagements. I earned my APR in 2015 to ensure I was the best practitioner possible and run a successful Solo PR consultancy today.
Originally from Atlanta, I enjoyed my time in Athens, GA for undergraduate and graduate school, particularly my involvement as program director and graduate advisor at the 26,000 watt college radio powerhouse WUOG, 90.5 FM. After graduate school, I was in DC for several years, then back in Atlanta where I lived and worked until 2018, when my family and I relocated to the Bay Area. During weekends and holidays, I enjoy hiking all over Northern California. I also run a small vintage home goods business with my husband. Reliving my college radio glory days and satisfying my music nerd tendencies, I enjoy put together Spotify playlists in my free time.
Tell us about your winning campaign/entry. How did it come about, what were the highlights, how much work went into it, results, etc.
Since 2014, I’ve worked with my client Adrenaline, a brand experience company that creates and implements end-to-end branded experiences through creative and environmental design, with a specialization in the financial services sector. We launched the mission-oriented Believe in Banking multimedia platform at the height of the COVID crisis to provided immediate and sustained support for an industry leading us through to our post-pandemic future. Bringing together decision-makers, influencers and industry leaders, Believe in Banking features insights, news, data and conversations around the COVID crisis and banking’s response to it.
We have a small but scrappy, cross-functional team dedicated to strategizing, creating and regularly publishing new content throughout each week. When we launched, Adrenaline’s marketing department – of which I am an embedded member – was already regularly publishing updates in News, thought leadership in Perspective and robust case studies. With the addition of Believe in Banking, we more than tripled our publishing workload – no small feat, especially with the same number of team members. We’re really proud of the site. With hundreds of pieces of content, including multimedia elements and a podcast, the end-result is proof of our focus and commitment to support an industry that supports others.
What does it mean to your team to take home this win? How will you celebrate?
We are a virtual team, so we have toasted each other through Teams. We’re also displaying our award in Adrenaline’s shelf of industry awards and I will have mine proudly showcased in my own awards case. We’ve also shared our awards news in Adrenaline’s newsroom. In it, Chelsea Hinkel, Adrenaline’s Marketing Director, says, “To be recognized by two of the nation’s most prestigious communications chapters is such an acknowledgment of the hard work we’ve put into Believe in Banking. We entered in the San Francisco chapter competition knowing that we’d be up against every other PR tactic employed in the area during the year, so winning this honor is no small feat… We’re honored and humbled to receive such praise about something we’re so passionate about – serving the financial services sector.” I’ve also received recognition in the most recent Solo PR Newsletter and will be featured in an upcoming blog post.
What should the Bay Area know about you/your team?
I think I’d like Bay Area communicators to know that there is a lot more behind B2B communication and campaigns than maybe meets the eye. I worked in media relations for more than 16 years, and while consumer-facing, public communications and media grab the spotlight, there is a lot of really great and important work taking place in the B2B space. How you leverage communications for B2B audiences is unique and requires different strategies, but success in B2B is really satisfying. You get to see a direct link between your efforts and how they move the needle for organizations.
How has the pandemic affected your approach to communications?
I think COVID has made us all realize just how important communications is in so many aspects of our lives. For those working in public health, getting life-saving information out quickly is clearly critical. But even for those not on the healthcare frontlines, the pandemic has touched us all in some way – from how we cooperate to how communicate. It has shone a spotlight on internal processes and needed transparency of organizations of all sizes, and it has made us all look at new ways of using old tools to build resiliency into our strategies. For my work, I look at essential sectors like financial services and the people who work in them differently than I did before the pandemic. I’m deeply proud to have a hand in supporting them.
What advice do you have for handling PR during the COVID-19 pandemic?
I think when things are happening fast all around you, take time to go slow, even if it’s only for a short while. Carve out that space so you can get out of that lizard brain reactionary mode. Really strategize about what you want to say, how you want to say it and really importantly, why you want to say it. Ask hard questions about communications and hold yourself (and your team) to the same high standards you would in non-crisis times, even if it’s tempting to loosen them. Finally, surround yourself with smart people who listen and challenge you. The best work doesn’t take place in a silo. With communications, make collaboration your mantra and your charge.