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Meet Caroline Callaway of Bolt Public Relations in Uptown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Caroline Callaway.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
The year was 2006. I remember sitting at my desk working in a corporate communications role and, as I looked out the window, I recall this overwhelming feeling that I should be making more of a difference. I’ve always loved the public relations industry and I found that in my corporation positions, I missed working hands-on with people and seeing the direct impact my efforts could have. And despite working at a couple of agencies prior, I just hadn’t found the right fit yet. It was with my husband’s encouragement that I decided to leave my corporate job and go off on my own working with local business owners to tell their stories. I had my first client before my two weeks were up. That client quickly referred me to others and word started to spread. I was able to bring my agency and corporate experience to work with small businesses and start-ups. From planning events to earning press coverage in/on local, regional and national media, I saw firsthand the impact we were making on their businesses’ growth trajectory. As one thing led to another, I realized I needed help to continue servicing my growing client roster. With my first employee came the need for a payroll system, workers’ comp and other insurance, an office space, and more. What started as a mission to make greater impact turned into a full-fledged business.

A few years into running the agency in California, I needed to bring on another executive, as our growth was not slowing down. I reached out to Jo-Anne Coombes, a PR professional whom I had worked with at my first agency job, and someone I had watched quickly climb the ranks at a midsized PR firm on the East Coast. I traveled to meet her for my first major recruitment effort. After a few months of conversations (and my best sales tactics), she agreed to come on board under one condition: she was not relocating. And so, in 2009, we opened our Raleigh, North Carolina, office. What neither of us realized at that moment was how this would shape the future of Bolt PR.

Today, Bolt PR has four thriving offices across the country. We’ve kept our headquarters in Orange County, California, and now have teams and offices in Dallas, Texas; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We have opened each of these offices with that initial concept that we build offices around exceptional people.

We are now a national agency with local boots on the ground in four markets (and counting), making a real impact. We’ve grown to work with companies of all sizes, and in doing so, established a business model that allows us to continue working with start-ups and small businesses while having the scalability and national network to service large companies. We also pride ourselves on working with brands across a wide range of industries, from food, fashion, and fitness, to healthcare, technology, nonprofit and education, to name a few. Bolt PR is the agency we are today because of our people. We are a team of public relations and digital marketing professionals who are each on a mission to do exceptional work, drive meaningful results for our clients, and, in the end, make a real difference.

Has it been a smooth road?
Of course, there have been challenges, but when you’re working every day with your head and heart in the right place with the best of intentions and a relentless commitment to do what you say you’re going to do, challenges are more easily overcome. There aren’t any struggles that specifically stand out; just little challenges along the way that we’ve had to work through. I feel incredibly grateful to my family, team, clients, and network because I have some pretty incredible people in my corner.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Bolt Public Relations story. Tell us more about the business.
Bolt PR is a national, award-winning public relations and digital marketing agency. We have offices in Dallas, Texas; Orange County, California; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Raleigh, North Carolina. We have the privilege of working with brands large and small, across nearly every industry, especially in food and beverage, health and fitness, hospitality, education, consumer products, technology, healthcare and nonprofit.

We help our clients earn impactful press coverage by telling their stories and giving them a platform to share their expertise; we establish and grow engaged online audiences through digital marketing, including social media, email marketing, and website management; we plan and promote events large and small; we help our clients with messaging and strategy in times of issues or crisis; we coordinate strategic and/or cause marketing partnerships, and we serve as an extension of clients’ teams as their trusted marketing partner.

Over the course of the agency’s 12+ years, Bolt PR has helped a nonprofit exceed its fundraising goals to break ground on a development project well ahead of schedule; we helped a computer app reach two million active users in its first year; we branded and launched a social campaign on behalf of a client that resulted in appearances on nearly every major talk show, morning show, and major news outlet; and we helped a single restaurateur grow from one restaurant location to a national franchise brand in just four years, to name a few successes. Bolt PR has also earned several industry awards over the years, thanks to our amazing team and results.

I find what sets us apart is our people, commitment to results, and accountability. We further these strengths within our agency through programs we have created, such as: Bolt Exceeds, a program designed to reward our team for going above and beyond expectations; Bolt Up, our professional development program where we invest in growing the talents of our team; and Bolt Back, our program designed to get our team members into our local communities during the week to volunteer and make a difference.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
The public relations industry has evolved so much over the past 5-10 years, and we will undoubtedly continue to see change. While the channels and methods in which we communicate will continue to evolve, what will not change is the need for brands to tell their stories, articulate their messaging, serve as thought leaders in their industries, and reach their audiences through strategic communication. In fact, I see the role of an agency partner becoming even more important to brands as the need to communicate effectively and stand out among the noise continues to become more challenging. Agency partners, with their dedicated teams, bring vast experience, outside perspective, creativity and proven expertise to brands that may otherwise be challenged to source in house.

As one example, back in 2007, we were named the top social media agency in a regional awards program for our early adoption of and realized success with social media for brands. I look forward to leading Bolt to continue challenging ourselves to stay abreast, if not ahead, of the ever-evolving industry landscape.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Callaway Family photo: Resolved Photography

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