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Ten: Kristina Helb on Branding and Big Deals

Agent Insight // Nov 08, 2011

Welcome to Ten, CORE founder and CEO Shaun Osher’s rapid-fire interview series with prominent CORE figures. Read on to find out how this week’s subject deals with being on the hot seat.

CORE_ten_helbThe CORE brand, the way we express who we are, what we stand for, and how we conduct our business is largely reliant on how we communicate our message to our clients and the world at large. Kristina Helb is our Director of Communications and in the past year has been responsible for that message. She is personable, responsive, and above all, she is a delight to work with.

1) What is the best part of your day?
When I’m out and about in the City and that idyllic moment unexpectedly catches me – where I feel so complete and so happy to be in a City that I love, doing what I love to do. This happens daily and I think any New Yorker will understand exactly what I mean.

2) How do you approach your job?
Expect the unexpected! People always ask me to describe my “typical day,” and there is no typical day, especially when heading up Communications for CORE. I approach my job with flexibility and nimbleness -– amid executing co-branded events, working on “Selling New York” episodes, managing CORE’s blog calendar, social media efforts and pitching stories to media, I can never plan for when CORE’s next million-dollar big deal will happen. I’ve learned to think quickly on my feet, react strategically and with confidence and secure press coverage for that big deal – while managing to keep all the other plates spinning.

3) The world has changed significantly over the last 10 years because of technology. How has that changed the way you work?
Technological advances have majorly affected the public relations industry. Due to everything moving online, there have been many cuts in publishing houses which have reduced the number of staff writers. There are fewer writers to pitch story ideas to, and these writers are overworked and responsible for covering much more, making it more difficult to get a story placed. In addition to the increased difficulty in getting coverage, things are much faster paced. Years ago, it would take months for a story to run in a magazine – now it can happen in a matter of seconds.

4) Is print dead…almost?
It does seem like every print publication is now available online, but there is still something special about having a tangible piece of press in your hands, and print journalism still has a lot of impact. A blog post can be bumped off a homepage in a day and easily forgotten, but a great print story is something a reader really connects with.

5) What is your greatest daily challenge?
Maintaining a healthy work/life balance and reminding myself that I can’t control everything! In communications, you’re hardwired to have strategic plans (Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, etc.) for any and every possible outcome. My greatest daily challenge is to remain present, and to not strategically plan my personal life. I get better at this every day; I have faith and remind myself that life will happen as it’s meant to – it’s worked out pretty well so far!

6) What was your biggest PR coup?
I’m not sure I can pinpoint one specific coup! To me, one press clip really is a means to the end – the end being increasing brand awareness and visibility. It’s been really exciting for me to build the Communications Department at CORE. I love when people say, “CORE is a huge company, isn’t it?.” That means I’m doing my job well. Just the other day, I calculated that there was an almost 400% increase in press coverage for one of CORE’s agents since I started. I had similar results when working at New Balance when re-launching their Lifestyle division and PF Flyers sneaker brand. One single placement can’t replicate that.

7) How do you know if a story has wings?
In life, I strive to think outside myself and I use this tactic in my job as well. In order to determine whether a story has wings, I try to think from a reader’s point of view. What sort of headline or subject matter would grab me and entice me to read that article in full? If it’s something I’d pass over, it’s likely that the general public would not be interested as well and, therefore, a writer won’t be interested in covering it.

8) How is real estate different to fashion?
There are many obvious similarities between fashion and real estate: style, design, function…The biggest difference between fashion and real estate is the pace and lead time. In the fashion industry, collections happen seasonally and are developed and perfected over the course of many months. Real estate is a fast-paced industry; a stunning home with a fantastic backstory can hit the market and sell in the very same day (there goes my press opportunity!). I’d guess that real estate public relations is probably the fastest type of PR there is – I have to expect the unexpected and be able to react on the drop of a dime.

9) Who is your mentor?
I’ve been very fortunate to have amazing mentors throughout my life. Currently, it’s my manager and our COO at CORE, Brittley Jarrell (Britt – I promise I’m not just kissing up to you!) Through the past year-and-a-half+, Brittley has been an amazing example of someone who lives life fearlessly and to the fullest (which I strive to do). She’s an example of how to elegantly do it all – from being a great mom to having a rock star career. The best mentor for me is one who gives me wings to fly. Brittley has trusted in me; in my intuitions and abilities. Since I think highly of her, her trust has given me the invaluable confidence to trust more in myself.

10) Any question for me?
What was the most recent time that you had one of those “New York City moments” I described at the beginning of this Q&A – where you unexpectedly felt blessed to be exactly where you were?

I seem to have many of those moments every day. Getting a cup of coffee from a street vendor earlier today knowing that this person has a dream to become something, and that this is one of the most opportune places in the world to become whatever you set your mind to be.