PR Profile: Tanis Sullivan, Tanis Sullivan Communications

Tanis SullivanName: Tanis Sullivan, @tanissullivan

Job title: Principal

Company you work for: Tanis Sullivan Communications

Career background:  I was born to work in PR but it took me many years to figure out that I could actually make a successful career out of my unique combination of skills and interests. What is one to do with a university degree in Psychology, a diploma in Broadcast Journalism, expertise in tourism, hospitality, radio promotions and TV producing along with a passion for the arts and hard news? Public Relations, of course!

Upon graduating from BCIT though I was hired as an associate producer Global TV in Vancouver (then CKVU) and did a bit of anchoring of their news breaks and entertainment updates. I also later went on to anchor a daily live segment on A Channel News in Winnipeg.  Although I enjoyed my stint in TV, I always knew a career in PR was my true calling. In 2000 I decided to make the switch from broadcasting to PR and I haven’t looked back since.

After a few short stints at small agencies, I was lucky enough to get hired at Optimum Public Relations as an account coordinator. I was given the opportunity to eventually manage a variety of accounts including General Motors, the Onni Group of Companies, Science World, Alcan Primary Metals and a provincial tour designed to build awareness and support for the Vancouver Olympics called “The Spirit of 2010”. After five years with Optimum, I moved on to become the Communications Manager at Statistics Canada where I led the 2006 Census campaign.

After having my second child, finding the right life/work balance became of outmost importance. With a few small projects to get me going, I launched my business from my kitchen table in 2007. Now with a real office, a handful of clients on retainer and a steady stream of referrals, I’ve been able to successfully build my business and my reputation within the industry.

Career aspirations: My greatest aspiration is to continue to grow and learn every day while making a meaningful difference and contributing to the success of each and every one of my clients. 

Greatest career challenge:  One of my greatest challenges has been turning down work. When I was first starting out, I pretty much took on every project that came my way. These days, I’m more selective and know when to graciously decline work or send referrals to more suitable industry colleagues. 

Greatest career success: There are many project related successes I could speak of but my greatest career success has without a doubt been taking the risk and having the guts to start my own business.

Biggest career mistake or regret: I don’t have a single regret and I consider any mistakes I’ve made to be an opportunity to learn and grow.

Favourite PR/communications campaign (i’ve worked on): There are too many to name but a highlight was certainly a campaign that took me to the Sundance Film Festival to manage media and stakeholder relations from events with some of Hollywood’s most elite.

PR role model: There are many local people I consider role models. Loring Phinney, the former VP of Optimum Public Relations took a chance on me when I started out and showed me the ropes in my early days. Fawn Mulcahy, Lisa Dooling and Kathleen Bourchier are former colleagues from Optimum and are now all consultants themselves. They too have been highly influential in my growth and development as a PR consultant. Lastly, Jill Killeen was one of the first people I ever worked with in PR and was a great role model when I was just starting out. I’m very lucky to have worked with so many smart and inspiring people.

Best career advice: Work hard, challenge yourself, take risks, surround yourself with good people and go with your instincts.

Best place to ‘do coffee’ in Vancouver: Coffee is my vice. I couldn’t live without a daily Grande Starbucks Americano .

Favourite journalist to pitch to: Media pitching is a huge part of what I do and the relationships I’ve developed with the media are part of the key to my success. I work with a lot of local TV producers and reporters and enjoy crafting pitches and coordinating client interviews for their programs.  I also really like the challenge of pitching the business media to develop feature stories and business profiles for my clients.  Of course, I can’t forget the many bloggers who are an important part of the media landscape these days and many of whom I’m in touch with on a regular basis.

Favourite website: Social media sites are generally my favourite but I also refer to Canada.com and CNN.com for news and I often check out Goop.com and ShopBop.com for lifestyle and fashion.

Favourite social media site: I’m a bit of a social media junkie and am pretty active on Twitter, Facebook and Linked In but these days I’m especially addicted to Pinterest.

Fun fact about you: I love to sing and dance with my three daughters. Karaoke is a mainstay in our household as are regular dance parties complete with a disco ball and glow sticks!

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