Audrey PonzioHPRB: What was your childhood ambition?

Audrey: Believe it or not, I wanted to be a consultant but that didn’t come until high school and post my ideas of being a nun (middle school) and an actress (age 5) had fizzled.

HPRB: Tell us about three people that you admire and why?

Audrey: I admire a lot of people, but if I had to name three:

  • My mother for her grace and humor.
  • My father for his wisdom and boldness.
  • My grandmother for her strength and faith.

HPRB: What is your favorite quote?

Audrey: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail,” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

HPRB: Tell us about your educational background?

Audrey: I studied Corporate Communications, with concentrations in Business and History at UT Austin and secured a masters in International Affairs and Public Policy at Columbia.

HPRB: What is one of the best lessons your parents taught you about life?

Audrey: To be honest.

HPRB: What is the most important business habit you have?

Audrey: I continually seek feedback. It’s silly to assume I’m always right or have the best ideas, or ways of presenting them. My team, across the spectrum from interns to EVPs + have invaluable input.

HPRB: What the best book you’ve recently read?

Audrey: Not sure I’d call theory reading the best, but most recently and a bit of a long read (for me) was Black Swan by Nassim Taleb. It speaks to the typical assumptions of how people and organizations forecast and/or characterize random events in history. It pokes holes at our methods of predicting as well as giving major events their proper place by explaining them away in hindsight.

HPRB: Besides your career, what are you really passionate about outside of work?

Audrey: My family.

HPRB: How did you start your career in PR and where has that taken you?

Audrey: I started at another large agency as an intern and was given the softer stories and community events to pitch, basically the things I couldn’t mess up. After a couple of months the idea of being able to convince media to place positive stories demonstrating genuine goodwill inspired me. I thought that if my coverage would help foster more donations then there was something to the impact of public perception in influencing corporate behavior for good. So this wannabe actress/nun/consultant was hooked.

HPRB: What advice would you have for young people exploring Hispanic or multicultural PR careers?

Audrey: Find a mentor. Research people who have the bios you would want to emulate and ask for an informational interview. That’s how I got my first internship in PR (an industry I previously misjudged) and met some incredible people in the process. Also, don’t stop being curious — boring people get bored, your entertainment and evolution is in your hands. Follow-up and follow-through on everything. Always be honest and stay grounded in the best of intentions.

HPRB: What do you believe helps differentiate your agency and how big is your PR team?

Audrey: I think what differentiates the agency is the fact that it’s independent. We are not held to the typical procedures and practices bigger media holding companies are. Being the best counsel is the priority, not billability. That fact defines our difference in how we approach each client opportunity.

HPRB: Describe the most effective Hispanic marketing campaign you’ve ever worked on and what made it special?

Audrey: The answer is given results and client specific objectives, I am happy to report that most if not all have been effective at delivering the desired client impact — be it impressions or new relationships built with key stakeholders. From the health and community advocacy to the promotion of new products and services, our team secured over 100 million impressions for a heart health awareness campaign, Juntos Contra La Atero, we also increased transactions for TWC’s Lo Mejor On Demand channel by 33%. For Pepsi, we are promoting the idea of truly adding up and not just being counted around this year’s Census. I think what makes them special is delivering on the consumer insight be it health motivators, control of the entertainment on personal terms, or wanting to see themselves reflected in positive stories showcasing the valuable impact a community can have on this country.

HPRB: Who are some of your agency’s top Hispanic/multicultural PR clients and what is the most exciting campaign your agency has worked on?

Audrey: Some of our clients include: Unilever, Time Warner Cable, Pepsi, AstraZeneca, Microsoft, Starbucks, Levi’s and the American Heart Association. Every campaign is exciting, if not we’re not doing our job.

HPRB: What adjustments has your agency made to overcome some of the challenges of the current prolonged recession?

Audrey: The company has always been forward thinking and prudent in spending. They’ve made investments in key growth markets to ensure coverage, continued to develop IP, thoroughly reviewed needs for hires while at the same time continued to invest in people to retain top talent. Edelman grew during these past couple of years as did our Multicultural team.

HPRB: What’s in the works at Edelman Multicultural for continued growth and expansion?

Audrey: On the horizon for us in same order of importance and completely related:

  • Working daily at becoming better
  • A continued focus on our current roster of clients and partners
  • More hiring…we continue to look for, court and add more curious minds, independent thinkers, doers, hungry advocates, articulate and grounded leaders

HPRB: What is the biggest Hispanic marketing cliché you would love to see go away?

Audrey: The biggest cliché that I’ve love to see go away probably has more to do with the service industry than with this particular circle. We’re not hired to say yes. We’re hired to counsel, and that can only happen with context, experience and the willingness to challenge what’s been done, against what’s been asked for and deliver on what’s possible if we think a little bigger.

250 Hudson
New York City, New York 10013

  • AGENCY PRINCIPALS: Richard Edelman, Chairman; Matt Harrington, CEO
  • PR BILLINGS: $448 Million (2009)
  • EMPLOYEES: 3200

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