We had the good fortune of connecting with Barb Harris and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Barb, what do you attribute your success to?
What’s made our firm successful is that our clients know that we have their best interests at heart when we join their team. That’s how we view ourselves – as members of our clients’ team. We are invested in their success and while we bring them the value of an “outside” perspective, we also strive to be trusted team members who are dedicated to learning their business, helping them identify the best stories they have to share, researching the best channels to tell those stories, and forging relationships with media and stakeholders. We measure our success by their success. Our brand – teamworks communication – was created to reflect that spirit of collaboration. Our very first client more than 23 years ago was the nonprofit St. Louis Area Food Bank. We worked with them for almost 20 years. It was the success of our program, a fundraising newsletter than raised 3 to 15x in revenue each publication, that brought us more nonprofit clients who needed help with communication, publicity, branding and strategy including current client United Food Bank based in Mesa. We’ve also brought that spirit of collaboration to the consumer retail client side of our business, working with both 7-Eleven and Blockbuster for nearly 20 years handling media relations and promotions, grand openings, and special events. In each case, we weren’t just a hired agency — we were team members dedicated to the success of the brands. This attitude of “doing what it takes” has provided great results for our consumer clients, including more recently our successful launch of the first Arizona White Castle here in Arizona last year. We sat in on every meeting we could so that our event planning and media relations program for the event could cover every contingency. In the same nature of teamwork, we also helped found a national network of independent public relations practitioners and agencies. We’ve worked with many of these members to execute multi-market communication programs for the Macy’s Make-A-Wish Believe Campaign, Coldstone Creamery and more. We are also dedicated to being the best we can be — taking professional development courses, learning about new communication platforms and trends, attending seminars about media relations, taking time to do a quarterly local news audit to keep on top of our media lists, and working to balance our professional and personal life. Because, at the end of the day, the success of our company is based on healthy, positive professional and personal relationships. Our brand is solidly established on a foundation built of teamwork, collaboration and commitment to client success, which is reflected by the fact that nearly all of our clients have come to us through word-of-mouth referrals from other clients and professional colleagues.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
teamworks communication is – not surprisingly – in the business of communicating! We are experienced communicators with expertise in helping non-profit and consumer retail clients share their stories with the audiences that matter to them. We work with our clients to create meaningful messaging and content. Then, we work with the media and stakeholders such as donors to connect our clients with their key audiences to promote active engagement with their organization or products. Perhaps most importantly, we communicate with and on behalf of our clients. It may sound obvious, but our proven ability to effectively share ideas and encourage dialogue is essential to the success of our clients’ communication efforts. Our name, teamworks, is more than just a moniker, it’s the way we do business. We become part of our clients’ communication team for the life of a project, and with many clients, for long-term communications counsel and execution. Some of the areas in which we are most experienced, include: – Communication strategy and planning – Key message development – Media training – Media relations – proactive and reactive – Content development for websites, social media posts, electronic newsletters and direct mail. We’ve identified and continue to address three main challenges to our continued success: – Staying in our lane — As a small business, there is often a temptation to try to wear too many hats! Our team approach depends on us recognizing when a communication tactic isn’t in our wheelhouse and bringing an expert in that area onto the team to assist. – Keeping abreast of industry changes — We’ve had to be very mindful in making professional development time in our schedules as high a priority as our client work. To provide effective counsel to our clients, we have to stay abreast of news trends and new social media platforms and strategies. – Identifying and maintaining a good client fit — We have to be willing to say “no” if we don’t think a potential client is a good fit for our skill set, availability and work style.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Wow! There is so much to do in the state of Arizona. My husband and I road trip a lot (@secondhalfescapades) and love to frequent restaurants run by friends of ours, so this is an easy one! We’d start the trip by me picking them up at nearby Sky Harbor Airport and spending the first day at my townhouse/home office on Tempe Town Lake. We’d walk around the Lake, picking up a coffee at Press at Skywater, stopping for ice cream at Sweet Republic, and then taking a pedal boat out on the lake. After, we’d walk to Cafe Boa for a cocktail and appetizers for happy hour, or head down to House of Tricks to enjoy a delicious meal under the trees. The next day we’d get up early and hike South Mountain to catch a great view. We’d have brunch at one of the Squeeze locations or Matt’s Big Breakfast. After that, we’d investigate all that metro Phoenix has to offer — museums, outdoor art installations, some shopping at the Biltmore. Dinner would have to be at Rancho Pinot or FnB. Spa day is next — and of course I like a little yin to my yang so we’d stop off at White Castle for brunch — waffle sammies, sliders and great coffee. Then we’d head to the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess to check into one of their Gold suites for an overnight. We’d spend the afternoon at the spa, splash around in the pools and then head to Toro for drinks and dinner. On our way home from the Fairmont we’d pick up a picnic lunch, treats and wine from Tracy Dempsey Originals/ODV Wines and head to Boyce Arboretum for a bit of nature. Thinking cocktails at Arizona Distilling Company on the way home. Our last day would be fitting in all that we didn’t get done on the second day, and then having a nightcap on my balcony overlooking the night lights around Tempe Town Lake.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
As far as my business success, there are two people that deserve a shout out. The first is my husband Scott for being supportive and taking a leap of faith with me when I called him in 1993 from work to tell him that the agency I was working at (Edelman St. Louis) was closing, and that I wanted to take my clients and open my own shop. He whole heartedly said yes and has always been my #1 cheerleader. Of course, the other is my business partner Sharon Kreher in St. Louis, who makes teamworks a team. We’ve been business partners since 1997 and I cannot imagine this 23-year crazy ride without her. The yin to my yang. The Frick to my Frack. She’s the calm when I’m the storm and vice versa. She loves to entertain huge crowds, while I can lead a small group discussion with ease and success. My journalism-trained hard news style of writing is always softened and made more eloquent with her prose. I’m so lucky that we met oh so long ago.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/barbwaltersharris or www.facebook.com/teamworkspr
Kreher Photography, Groove Heads, Arizona Republic, KSAZ FOX