Café Spotlight: Chris Guizlo & Tougo Coffee

ICG - Tougo CoffeeIt’s a cold, drizzly Wednesday in Seattle – construction is buzzing outside and pedestrians are rushing in and out of offices. We are tucked in a corner of the Washington State Convention Center, surrounded by windows displaying lush greenery and city streets.

The convention center is quiet, peaceful. Chris Guizlo however is in full swing, jumping from project to project, with a few seconds to stop for a caffeine break.

Chris has been an account executive with The Fearey Group since February 2014, where he has worked with clients such as Perkins + Will, Evergreen Home Loans, and the Seattle Brain Cancer Walk, just to name a few. Indulging ourselves with Tougo Coffee, Chris lets me pick his brain and shares his experiences from the public relations world.

Q: What about the PR industry did you initially find attractive?

A: I liked being able to help other people tell their stories. Originally on the public affairs side, I liked being able to do the day-to-day political side of things — looking for opportunities to tweak messaging and effectively tell a story, whether it be for an issue or for a candidate and also how that translates into general PR. The things we do for our clients on a daily basis — not just media relations or content writing, but how we articulate that within their larger business goals.

Q: You have a strong background in the political world. Why switch to PR?

A: I was looking for something kind of different and out of the ordinary. When I was an undergrad in Washington D.C., I minored in political science and majored in public communications. During the school year and summers I interned on Capitol Hill with a public policy firm, the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and briefly with a PR firm. When I pursued my grad degree, I focused on public communications with a specialty in public affairs. That led to a job with the American Heart Association in their media advocacy office where I was responsible for a portfolio of issues ranging from stroke care to nutrition. I handled the media relations work that our lobbyists were doing in those areas.

Q: What was the biggest transition for you stepping into an independent PR firm?

A: I honestly never really saw myself going to a PR firm. I just didn’t think it would be a good fit for me. I always thought I would be on the client side of things and the biggest transition was juggling between the different industries of each client. You really have to become an expert in each of those industries to be a good counselor to your client. I think also just attention to detail. It’s so essential because our product is tied to our name and then eventually it’s tied to our clients’ names.

Q: How does the Seattle market stand out?

A: I think [Seattle is] unique because we’re in a really cool growth period right now. And it’s not just in one industry – this is not the same town that it was even 15, 20 years ago. We have strong tech and aerospace, but it’s not the names that you necessarily suspect. In the aerospace industry, there are secondary companies (part suppliers and manufacturers) that are distributing all around the world which is really cool and really exciting. We have a huge life science and biotech industry that is really redefining the areas of global health – bringing drugs to market that could potentially change the course of medicine.

Q: How is The Fearey Group unique?

A: I think what I love about The Fearey Group is we all come from such dynamic and different backgrounds. We’ve got people who have done time as journalists in different sectors, from time in Washington D.C. to healthcare to politics. We have people who’ve worked at different agencies around the country who bring a wealth of knowledge and we have people like myself who come from the in-house side of things. The great thing is we are a team of very adept specialists who are agile and move with our clients to help spot what’s ahead before it’s even there. And we’re there at the table with our client. I think our ultimate goal and the way we are most useful is if we consider ourselves, and our client considers us, part of their team.

*Café Spotlight is our new series promoting open discussion of the public relations field while showcasing local cafes around Seattle.