PR Profile: Sandy Pell, PR Manager, Hootsuite

Linkedin SandypellName: Sandy Pell, @HootSandy

Job title: Public Relations Manager

Company you work for: HootSuite

Career background: Back in the early years of highschool when the guidance counselor asked me “what I wanted to be when I grew up,” I told her I one day I’d be an on-camera lifestyle news anchor. As a 17-year-old kid that’s where my story starts.

After graduating from Wilfrid Laurier University with a degree in communication studies and sociology combined with studying new media communications abroad at the University of Limerick, I joined a large software company where I tied together the efforts of a large marketing and sales team working account development. Although a little off target from my news anchor dream, this opportunity quickly propelled me in the right direction, and I fell in love with building relationships. For the next three years, I drove warm leads into hot sales opportunities until my boyfriend Steve and I decided to move to the west coast to seek out our next creative adventure.

After shooting professional portrait, newborn, and maternity photography for a year, I was able to build out a large network of connected women who drove small businesses of their own. I was inspired, so I decided to join one of them.

I teamed up with one of these women who ran two independent creative businesses. Over the next year, I used grassroots marketing strategies combined with heavy use of social networking to drive an active fanbase for both of her brands. Social media was the missing piece in her strategy, and she didn’t even realize it. I knew this was the next step in my career since it married both my love for visual arts, grassroots marketing strategies, and relationship building. Combine all three and amazing things happen. And then HootSuite happened...

Career aspirations: TBD. Life changes too fast.

Greatest PR challenge: The greatest PR challenge I have faced has been breaking the existing stereotypes of brands and products. With stakeholders of all backgrounds quick to make a judgement call the first time they interact with a company, it’s a PR team’s responsibility to ensure they’ve done their best to represent the brand in a positive light. Once the light is turned on, it’s very difficult to change.

Greatest career success: When I came across the job posting for HootSuite leading a PR role - I knew I needed to find a way of differentiating myself from all the other resumes in HootSuite’s tall pile of qualified candidates, so Steve (my now husband and designer@Pellvetica) and I worked together to conceptualize a custom layout that would leave an impression on HootSuite’s hiring folks. Upon peeling off a paper closure ribbon with an iconic west coast starfish pressed wax stamp, HootSuite’s hiring team found my tri-folded cover letter and resume, and a coupon for “1 free coffee on me.” After a fast follow-up call and invite for a coffee with CEO Ryan Holmes, I found out that in part as a result of this unique application format, I had in fact skipped the traditional HR process and was sent my contract within two days.

Favourite PR/communications campaign: Always loved what Dove did with their Dove self-esteem fund back in 2006. Dove’s Evolution video debunks the perception of beautfy and how it is distorted: http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=CA&v=iYhCn0jf46U

PR role model:

  1. Facebook’s first PR director, Brandee Barker
  2. Facebook’s former marketing director, Randi Zuckerberg


Best career advice: Own your role. Believe that you’re capable of bigger and badder things than you’ve ever done before. Someone once told me - What we think, we become.

Best place to ‘do coffee’ in Vancouver: Toss up... if I’m looking for coffee, I’m a fan of the Agro Cafe in Yaletown (@agrocafe), however if I’m after something sweet - specifically chocolate chip or peanut butter cookies - Salty Tongue has the best the city can offer (@SaltyToungeCafe). Love coffee too? Let’s go!

Favourite journalist/blogger in the city: Not only does Bob Kronbauer, Editor in Chief of Vancouver Is Awesome (@viawesome) compile all things ‘awesomeness’ in Vancouver, he’s also an uber talented photographer on Instagram.

Favourite website: To satisify the geek I know exists in every woman, I hit up GeekSugar: http://www.geeksugar.com/. That said though, I can also get lost for hours on TED: Ideas worth spreading: http://www.ted.com/.

Favourite social media site: Ok... its tough to choose between Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo, Tumblr, YouTube... can I choose them all? Better yet, I choose HootSuite ;)

Fun fact about you: I won 1st place in the Granville Island public market pie-baking contest, having never really baked a pie before. I even made up the recipe from scratch to satisify every taste bud that lived on my tongue.

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