Member Profile: Kristina Kelley
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Senior Director of Public Relations
E&J Gallo Winery
Why did you join PRSA and what is one of your favorite benefits that the organization provides?
I joined PRSA 6 years ago, which is when I transitioned from marketing to a role in PR. One of the best benefits of the organization is the training that they provide, whether it is in-person, a webinar or an online training. In addition, the annual conference presents a wonderful opportunity to network with a group of PR professionals while at the same time providing an incredible educational opportunity.
You have been in PR for over three decades. Share a few ways it has changed over the years and where you see it going.
I am a wine veteran with over 30 years in the industry. I actually began my career in sales and shortly thereafter moved to marketing. I decided to expand into PR in because I wanted to share our brand narratives and the people behind our wines.
The biggest change I’ve seen over the years in this industry is the merging of paid, earned, and shared media. A PR team really has to incorporate an integrated strategy around all the disciplines to build a cohesive and effective communication plan.
Tell us about one of your most memorable experiences during your career.
At the E & J Gallo Winery, our in-house PR team works across our entire portfolio, focusing on about 50 of the company’s 104 brands. This offers an incredibly diverse experience and the opportunity to speak to a wide range of media outlets. To show that diversity, I’ll pick two events that are on opposite ends of the communication spectrum.
In 2016, Barefoot Bubbly partnered with the Times Square Alliance to be the Official Bubbly of New Year’s Eve Times Square, we knew it would be a perfect fit as one of Barefoot’s core values is inclusiveness. New Year’s Eve is inclusive of everyone from around the world, whether they celebrate with a night on the town or a night at home. We did not receive final confirmation of the opportunity until 60 days in advance of New Year’s Eve. Working together with our key internal cross functional teams, we were able to deliver a comprehensive plan that resulted in over 500 million impressions and will now be a mainstay of our Barefoot communication plan.
On the other the end of the spectrum, I’ve had the opportunity to share our wines with some of the top wine critics in the works, including Robert M. Parker, Jr., of the Wine Advocate. He recently reviewed many of our wines and gave Gallo its first 100-point score with the Louis M. Martini Lot No. 1 Cabernet Sauvignon. This was an incredible honor for our company and quite an accomplishment by our winemaking team. These experiences couldn’t have been more different but both provided an incredible sense of accomplishment for our in-house PR team.
What’s your best advice to the new generation of PR professionals?
For me, the same is true today as it was 20 years ago and will remain the same in the future. Our business is about building relationships. Without these relationships, you’re just another person pitching a product. It is vital to get to know the media and the people behind the media outlets and invest in building those relationships. Be seen as a resource and providing insight backed up by facts, which is even more critical in today’s environment. For all PR professionals, it is imperative to understand the media outlet, the journalist, and do everything you can to maintain that relationship.