Dala President Named Top 40 Under 40

Every year the Dallas Business Journal honors 40 individuals under the age of 40 for being leaders and innovators in their industry. Ranging from startups to business owners in tech, health care, real estate, finance and philanthropy, these individuals are picked from hundreds of nominees in the North Texas area because of their remarkable careers and promising futures. This year, Dala Communications president, Leah Williams, APR was selected as one of these top 40 out of more than 350 nominations. She was chosen for her impressive career in public relations in addition to her work in the community.

We sat down with Leah and asked: “To what do you attribute your success?” She replied: "I learned adaptability was key early on – so much in the PR industry has changed since I began my career with the constantly shrinking media landscape and evolution of social and digital media. Borrowing a word from the start-up world, I learned to ‘pivot’ when it came to devising new PR strategies to ensure my clients’ success while growing my agency. I now embrace the feeling of ‘discomfort.’ If you never leave your comfort zone, you’ll never know what you’re truly capable of accomplishing.”

This is a huge honor and we're so proud! Go Leah! Check out the article here.

Not only was Leah named a Top 40 Under 40, but she was spotlighted again with a Q&A on the second page of the April 6 issue of the Dallas Business Journal. In her feature article, she discussed her career, the fundamental values of Dala, and the future of the agency.

"We're not out to be the biggest, but we are out to be the best," Leah said. "Client service is the core of our business model and we have steadily expanded our business alongside our clients as many of them have expanded into new regions and market sectors. Our longest standing client has been with us for over 16 years. I've taken this same approach to our agency's growth, building a steady growth pattern year after year, and I anticipate a growth of about 20 - 25 percent within the next two to three years."  

To read more the complete spotlight and learn more about Leah’s career trajectory, pick up a copy of that print edition. And, if you’re not familiar with Leah or want to know more about Dala’s history, go to “Our Story.”

Since starting at Dala, Leah has been instrumental in the development and success of the agency and we can't wait to see where she leads Dala next.

Leah EkmarkComment
We're Hiring an Account Executive!
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Dala Communications is looking for a talented and energetic Account Executive to join its Dallas team located in the Knox/Henderson area. Ideal candidates will have solid media relations, social media and client management experience, as well as strong verbal, interpersonal and written communication skills. They will also have an interest in working with business-to-business clients and be self-starters with the ability to confidently interact with media, clients and account teams. Send cover letter, resume and writing samples to info@dalacommunications.com.

Responsibilities:

  • Support Senior Account Executives (SAE) and other senior leadership in fulfilling client PR programs
  • Actively contribute to account plan development and develop new, strategic ideas for clients
  • Develop written materials, including press releases, byline articles, speeches, client correspondence
  • Learn clients’ businesses and business goals, gain understanding of their competitive environments
  • Participate in client and new business presentations
  • Maintain regular client contact, proactively devising new ways to meet client strategic needs
  • Assist SAEs with implementation of press conferences/briefings, media events and tours, etc.
  • Leverage existing media/editorial/journalistic/media contacts; readily develop new relationships
  • Conduct social media activities as part of client programs; continuously learning new methods and technologies
  • Assist SAEs with project management for marketing materials, such as websites, brochures, newsletters, award submissions, videos, etc.
  • Maintain careful attention to detail, ensuring accuracy of materials, contacts, schedules, etc.
  • Promote teamwork by teaching junior staff and interns, delegating as possible
  • Work with SAEs to manage Account Coordinator as part of client team
  • Create and assist SAEs with overseeing reports, managing budgets and providing other account and financial management
  • Develop an understanding of various research methods; coordinate internal and external resources in implementing research projects
  • Actively participate in ongoing professional development, learning new skills and expanding personal capabilities

 

Job Requirements:

  • Minimum B.A/B.S. in public relations, journalism, marketing or related field
  • Two to three years experience in an agency setting with track record of success of client and project management
  • Aptitude to learn quickly and thrive in fast-paced environment
  • Demonstrated writing ability in AP style
  • Successful track record of working with traditional and social media
  • Professional and media references

Dala Communications Offers:

  • Benefit package including health/vision/dental insurance & 401(k)
  • A positive, professional and collegial environment for work and career development
  • Competitive salary
  • Flexibility, team-building volunteer opportunities, 4 pm Fridays, professional development

*Send resume to info@dalacommunications.com, learn more about us at www.dalacommunications.com or check us out on LinkedIn or Instagram

EOE/AA M/F/V/D

Dala Communications is a results-based, full-service public relations agency located in Dallas. Creating impactful, content marketing formulas that work, Dala Communications is built upon a foundation of strategic thinkers and communicators who take a forward-thinking, proactive approach to achieve clients’ business goals. Whether working alongside B2B or B2C in-house teams, or serving as the marketing and public relations arm, Dala Communications makes the business and community connections that create brand momentum. Dala Communications is a mid-sized agency and certified as a Woman-owned Business Enterprise with the National Women’s Enterprise Certification, and as a HUB with the state of Texas.

National Volunteer Month: Dala Does Good
 The Dala Communications team volunteers at On The Road Lending's Road Trip! fundraiser

The Dala Communications team volunteers at On The Road Lending's Road Trip! fundraiser

Volunteering is a big part of Dala’s culture. Once every quarter, one of our team members chooses a nonprofit to partner with and we take a half-day to serve the community. We’ve done everything from deliver lunch for Meals on Wheels to assist with a swim class for adults with special needs. Throughout the year, we also find ways to give back. In fact, for the past school year, our team has been mentoring, Leslie, a high school senior from Uplift Luna, who wants to major in PR. We developed a “PR curriculum” to review with Leslie during the times she has spent shadowing everyone in the office to learn more about the world of public relations. Our passion for giving back also goes beyond “Dala” and in honor of National Volunteer Month, we want to give you an inside scoop on what causes are closest to our hearts.

Big Brothers Big Sisters (Mentorship)

  Dala President Leah Williams (right) attends the high school graduation of her “Little Sis” Yardley

Dala President Leah Williams (right) attends the high school graduation of her “Little Sis” Yardley

Leah has enjoyed giving back her time at Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Greater Dallas since 2005, where she has spent hundreds of hours in various volunteer and leadership roles, mentoring and nurturing the next generation of young leaders. She was elected to the 2009 inaugural Dallas BBBS junior board and served as chairman in 2013 where she helped lead the board to raise more than $50,000, exceeding the board’s goal by 100 percent. She served on the board for seven years total, raising thousands of dollars and recruiting additional mentors and volunteers for the organization.

She also served as a Big Sister in the community-based mentoring program for eight years where she met with X’Eryus every two to three weeks. Leah spent hundreds of hours watching him grow and progress through school from eight to 18 years old. In 2013, Leah became involved in BBBS’ e-mentoring program, Mentor 2.0. She was matched with Yardley, a freshman at North Dallas High School. Yardley graduated last year and was the first in her family to graduate from high school. She has since enrolled in cosmetology school and is thriving.

Leah continues her involvement in BBBS today, providing pro-bono PR services to this cause near and dear to her heart. One of her most memorable initiatives was devising and executing a media strategy to announce the national “Bigs in Blue” initiative in North Texas in 2017 as well as BBBS' partnership with Dallas ISD police.

  Dala’s Elizabeth LaMonte (left) on her graduation day at the University of Texas at Arlington

Dala’s Elizabeth LaMonte (left) on her graduation day at the University of Texas at Arlington

Elizabeth and her brother were both first-generation college students, so she had little guidance and few answers to the many questions she had about applying to college. Choosing a four-year university to attend seemed quite daunting, but she made it to the other side with a degree in public relations (lucky for Dala!). The experience sparked her passion for mentoring and helping guide high school students in the right direction for college.

She joined BBBS Lone Star in 2017, where she volunteers with Mentor 2.0. As a Big Sister, Elizabeth meets every four to six weeks with her Little Sister, Destiny, a freshman at the Collegiate Academy in North Richland Hills. She also helps her mentee with online homework throughout the school year. Elizabeth has eagerly committed herself to the program for at least four years to not only foster a relationship with her Little Sister, but also to help Destiny grow in her academics to prepare for college in the future.

Dallas Pets Alive! (Animal Rescue)

  Dala’s Krystal Morris, above in blue, attends Dallas Pets Alive! inaugural Town Hall event

Dala’s Krystal Morris, above in blue, attends Dallas Pets Alive! inaugural Town Hall event

To say Krystal loves dogs, is an understatement. So, when her good friend mentioned that she fostered dogs with Dallas Pets Alive!, a volunteer-driven, nonprofit rescue group dedicated to promoting and providing resources, education and programs to eliminate the killing of companion animals, Krystal wanted to help. She looked into ways to put her communication skills to use for Dallas Pets Alive! and signed on to volunteer as a media manager in Jan. 2017. Krystal loves being able to share the great work the volunteers and fosters do at Dallas Pets Alive! without working directly with the animals, since she knew she would be tempted to adopt another dog (she already has two mutts!).

A few of the media hits Krystal has been able to garner for Dallas Pets Alive! include a charity dog wash, the TNR (Trap Neuter Release) program, Dallas Pets Alive! transporting animals impacted by Hurricane Harvey to Canada to find homes and the group’s “Spoty Play” campaign that gives their adoptable animals playlists on Spotify that match their personalities. After helping to develop and execute the group’s ongoing #RescueRusty campaign, Krystal was promoted into a leadership role as director of public relations for Dallas Pets Alive! in Dec. 2017.

Krystal continues to lead PR efforts for the nonprofit and manages strategic media relations outreach and crisis communications, while working with the marketing team to ensure streamlined communications on external PR activities via internal messaging to the group’s more than 300 volunteers and on social media. She even recently stepped in front of the camera to promote adoptable dogs for the organization’s weekly “Ruff Life” segment on CW 33.

RECLAIMED (Anti-Trafficking)

  Dala’s Katie Venhaus, above in pink, helps recruit RECLAIMED volunteers at a ministry fair

Dala’s Katie Venhaus, above in pink, helps recruit RECLAIMED volunteers at a ministry fair

When people hear about human trafficking, the movie “Taken” often comes to mind. They imagine a girl in a foreign country getting snatched. While that certainly can happen, many people don’t realize human trafficking happens right here in Dallas and it can take place a number of different ways. In fact, The Dallas Morning News comes out with articles almost weekly on different busts. Our team member, Katie Venhaus, learned all of this in college through a semester-long research project, and when she moved to Dallas in 2013, she wanted to get involved in putting an end to it by fighting the roots of the issue, not just the symptoms.

Katie jumped in with some incredible leaders to help start RECLAIMED, a volunteer-led organization that exists to empower and mobilize God’s church to redefine a hyper-sexualized culture, restore men and women victimized by the sex industry and reach a world hurt by the abuse of sex all through the power of Jesus Christ. She used her gift of writing to draft a curriculum to educate people on human trafficking and how they can be part of the solution, and now that five-week curriculum study is offered quarterly. Katie helps teach and facilitate these studies, and at the end of the study, connects volunteers with RECLAIMED’s nonprofit partners in the community. She also helps train and equip volunteers at quarterly meetings and leads an events team to provide ongoing training and opportunities for volunteers throughout the year.

Lastly, Katie has the privilege of volunteering at Restored Hope Ministries where she connects with and encourages the women in the year-long program to rehabilitation. She said, “It’s one of my greatest joys to see women come in broken and in desperate need, find healing and peace.”

Leah EkmarkComment
NOW HIRING | ROCK STAR INTERN FOR THE SUMMER

We consider our interns to be a valuable part of the Dala team. They get to sit in on client meetings, go to TV news tapings, develop and pitch stories to the media, help plan and execute events and develop content for our social media handles and blog.

 Our recent intern, Emily, was able to invite media and attend an event at our client, Trinity Christian Academy's "Math to the Future Day". In this process she was able to search for media to pitch, develop a pitch and coordinate interview requests.

Our recent intern, Emily, was able to invite media and attend an event at our client, Trinity Christian Academy's "Math to the Future Day". In this process she was able to search for media to pitch, develop a pitch and coordinate interview requests.

Our PR firm handles a variety of accounts in industries ranging from commercial real estate and construction services to education and corporate social responsibility. A successful Dala intern is detail-oriented and a resourceful self-starter with a positive attitude. An understanding of media relations, social media and AP style along with strong written and verbal communication skills are required.

 Our current intern, John, attended a taping of FOX 4’s “Good Day” where he helped us set up for a segment featuring our client, Frontgate. Watch the segment  here .

Our current intern, John, attended a taping of FOX 4’s “Good Day” where he helped us set up for a segment featuring our client, Frontgate. Watch the segment here.

Internship responsibilities include:

·         Drafting and editing media materials including pitches, media alerts, news releases, backgrounders, fact sheets and media briefing books for clients

·         Creating/updating media lists

·         Tracking media coverage and updating clip logs for clients

·         Assisting with the development and execution of plans, events and activities that support client communication goals and objectives

·         Gathering and organizing editorial calendars

·         Reviewing newspapers/industry publications for client mentions

·         Researching media, clients, client competitors and/or other subjects requested by team

·         Assisting with social media planning and account maintenance for clients

·         Drafting posts for The Dala Daily (our blog) and social handles

·         Attending occasional PR industry events and participating in seminars, webinars and other professional training

·         Working within a client-focused team setting, interacting with all disciplines to get real-world experience and understanding of the collaborative nature of the agency environment

 Former rock star intern turned account coordinator, Elizabeth, helped develop a pitch and execute a interview for our client, Trinity Christian Academy, which resulted in a “Hometown Heroes” segment on FOX 4.

Former rock star intern turned account coordinator, Elizabeth, helped develop a pitch and execute a interview for our client, Trinity Christian Academy, which resulted in a “Hometown Heroes” segment on FOX 4.

The summer internship typically runs May - August. Hours are flexible with a minimum of 12 hours a week. If you’re looking to get hands-on experience in the PR field, send your resume, cover letter and two writing samples to Elizabeth@DalaCommunications.com.

Dala Delivers Results – 2017 Year in Review

From promoting an event partnership with Arianna Huffington to building a treehouse for a little boy to make his wish come true, our clients have been doing BIG things in 2017 and we've been alongside them, delivering BIG media results. But fostering key relationships and unlocking media coverage is only a part of what we do. As a full-service public relations agency, we build brand recognition, creating integrated communications strategies that work. Here are some of our favorite highlights from 2017.

For Westmount Realty Capital, we built brand credibility with a behind-the-scenes interview for CEO Clifford Booth with the Dallas Business Journal. The piece was instrumental in highlighting the incredible accomplishments of Westmount and its rapid growth over the years through substantial investments and expansion.

Client NAI Robert Lynn is also making notable strides in business. This commercial real estate brokerage firm recently opened an investment division. Via multiple media placements, we highlighted the growing influence of the leadership team and overall brand awareness.

We don't just tell the big business stories; we help shape the narrative to position our clients as thought leaders and innovators. For StreetLights Residential, we harnessed our media connections and storytelling acumen to highlight the company’s competitive advantage. StreetLights CEO Doug Chesnut outlined the firm’s differentiators in his CBS Radio CEO Spotlight. Project spotlights are also a key facet of our integrated media strategy for StreetLights. One of our favorites was the behind-the-scenes tour highlighting the new Deep Ellum luxury high-rise, The Case Building.

Thought leadership also comes to life through awards and career recognition. We draft award proposals and secure the recognition our clients and their employees deserve, including Connect Media’s Women in Real Estate Awards and the Houston Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business Awards.

Retention and recruitment of top talent is a goal for many of our clients including McCarthy Building Companies. Dala utilized media placements to help build credibility and awareness for McCarthy’s pipeline of talent. This Q&A with two McCarthy millennials effectively positioned McCarthy as not only a leader in its industry, but also a cool place to work. Our content market formula for McCarthy also includes raising awareness for the company’s value-add client services. The Houston Division’s use of virtual reality at the Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts was front page news  in the Houston Chronicle business section. With stories like this, we take a thoughtful, proactive approach to help bring client innovation to life.

Community engagement is also a core tenet at McCarthy. For McCarthy’s Houston Division, we support the firm’s Heart Hats community relations initiatives. We helped shape and share the story of McCarthy’s Houston volunteers who partnered with Make-A-Wish Foundation to make “Gus’ Imagination Treehouse,” a dream-come-true for a 7-year-old boy with a rare brain tumor.

Another business fully invested in innovation and improving their community is Capital One. An involved corporate citizen, Capital One turns to Dala to devise communications campaigns to build and reinforce its good works and investment in the community. Capital One’s partnership with The DEC (The Dallas Entrepreneur Center) and its WEDallas events such as its entrepreneurship boot camp for women in business, was a tremendous success in 2017 and yielded countless opportunities to reinforce Capital One’s CSR and FutureEdge initiatives.

We revel in the opportunity to tell stories that matter. For AECOM, we don’t have to look far…. Making it on the front page of The Houston Chronicle, AECOM’s project win for its Hyperloop Texas proposal secured nationwide media attention as a result of our strategic media outreach.

Another long-term client, Trinity Christian Academy (TCA) is known for its rigorous, out-of-the-box curriculum. Our creative storytelling approach, outlining how TCA stands out from other private schools in North Texas, goes above and beyond (and into space). WFAA was thrilled to cover the story of how a TCA teacher, makes learning “out of this world,” literally.

We understand both the current media landscape and business community, and the Collin County Business Alliance (CCBA) turns to Dala to help raise awareness and attendance for its top-tier programming. We regularly work with Speakers Bureaus to promote local partnerships with national media personalities including the CCBA’s Sixth Anniversary Luncheon featuring Huffington Post founder, Arianna Huffington.

Business organizations aren’t the only ones that turn to Dala to deliver effective yet creative event management. Dala was tapped by national luxury retailer, Frontgate, to open its first flagship store in Plano’s brand new Legacy West development. Frontgate relied on Dala’s relationships with lifestyle and social influencers as well as other external stakeholders to expand and build a brand presence as big as Texas!

No matter the industry – from commercial real estate, hospitality and finance to healthcare and consumer – Dala has done it all this year. 2017 was a year marked by BIG projects, BIG announcements and BIG results that made the year special. We’re confident 2018 will be filled with even greater opportunity for clients. As a full-service public relations agency, if your firm is looking for a strategic partner in 2018, you can count on the Dala team to deliver solutions that are sound, smart, creative and, most importantly, successful.

 

An Unforgettable 2017 | My Internship at Dala
  Dala Communications team at the 2017 PRSA UNSummit

Dala Communications team at the 2017 PRSA UNSummit

My internship at Dala Communications (Dala) was an experience I will never forget and will always appreciate. I started with the Dala team in June 2017 and am now ending in January 2018.

Throughout my experience, I’ve been immersed in the office culture and developed new skills through a number of assignments. My tasks included writing press releases, media alerts, photo stories, media briefing books, media pitches, public relations campaign plans, social content and blog posts. I learned about tracking coverage, compiling media lists, social analytics, event planning, client relations and more. The assignments strengthened my understanding of AP style and exposed me to a plethora of various writing styles.

  Fox 4 segment with Frontgate

Fox 4 segment with Frontgate

Some of the highlights of my internship included drafting content for real-time social engagement at the Collin County Business Alliance Sixth Anniversary Luncheon. Additionally, I visited the KDFW FOX 4 station for a live news segment with our client, Frontgate, a luxury home retailer that now has a flagship store in Plano, Texas. I also participated in Frontgate’s media preview day and later a grand opening gala for its flagship store.

Because of this internship, the amazing mentorship and training I received at Dala, my interest in working at a public relations agency has solidified. I love working on something new almost every day, interacting with multiple clients and writing in various styles. I look forward to applying my newly acquired skills toward a future career in public relations and highly recommend an internship with Dala to anyone that is ready to stretch their horizons, take on new challenges and grow in an environment that takes the initiative to guide you in the right direction.

John Camp was a public relations intern at Dala. Connect with John on LinkedIn.

  My graduation day at SMU

My graduation day at SMU

Leah EkmarkComment
Dala Does Good All Year Long

2017 went by in a flash and has been a big year for our agency, especially with our re-brand as Dala Communications and recent office move. Even with all these changes and hectic schedules, we still found the time to give back to our community throughout the year for our quarterly volunteer days. We couldn’t have done it without the continued support of our clients and friends.

We understand that our success, both in the community and professionally, is dependent upon our relationships and we are grateful for your trust and partnership as we take the next step in our agency evolution, while building upon C. Pharr & Co.’s lasting reputation.

As we reflect on 2017, we wanted to share highlights of all the ways we gave back to our community this year.

In March, we helped Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of North Texas  announce its Bigs in Blue program with the Dallas Police Department, matching youth with police officers. In May we were busy helping BBBS announce its new partnership with Dallas ISD (DISD) police officers to continue supporting the recently launched Bigs in Blue initiative BBBS is a volunteer mentoring organization.

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In June, we made a splash while jumping in the pool to help members of Ability Connection Texas with their physical therapy. Ability Connection Texas has been serving individuals with disabilities and special needs throughout Texas since 1954.

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In July, we were part of a panel during the University of Texas at Arlington Communication and Media Camp. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting the next generation of PR pros. The Communication and Media Camp gives high school students a chance to explore the real tasks involved in communication careers.

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On Sept. 11, we headed out to Whitney M. Young elementary school in South Dallas to volunteer with Dallas 1st Service Platoon from The Mission Continues as part of Freedom Day, a day of service in Dallas where first responders, veterans and local companies gather and volunteer together to commemorate Sept. 11, 2001. We spent the day volunteering alongside veterans to make the school’s outdoor play area more festive and interactive. The Mission Continues is a volunteer organization that empowers veterans who are adjusting to life at home to find purpose through community impact.

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In December, we did some holiday shopping to make the spirits a little brighter for the homeless children living in Dallas. We went out as a team and bought pajamas and books to give to children at Interfaith Dallas, an organization that aims to break the cycle of homelessness by providing working families with the tools to eliminate barriers, equip them to overcome poverty, educate children with skills to successfully pursue dreams and overall empower families to live self-sufficient lives.

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In addition to spending time volunteering, we gave monetary donations in honor of our clients and referral partners. These organizations include:

  • 4word Connecting, leading and supporting professional women to achieve their potential
  • Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity – Brings people together to build homes, communities and hope
  • Step Up – Propels girls from under‐resourced communities to fulfill their potential by empowering them to become confident, college‐bound, career‐focused, and ready to join the next generation of professional women

We look forward to giving back to the community in 2018 and beyond. Check out our volunteer pictures on Instagram any time using the hashtag #DalaDoesGood. 

Now Hiring | Rock Star Intern for Spring Semester

We consider our interns to be a valuable part of the Dala team. They get to sit in on client meetings, go to TV news tapings, develop and pitch stories to the media, help plan and execute events and develop content for our social media handles and blog.

Our PR firm handles a variety of accounts in industries ranging from commercial real estate and construction services to education and corporate social responsibility. A successful Dala intern is detail-oriented and a resourceful self-starter with a positive attitude. An understanding of media relations, social media and AP style along with strong written and verbal communication skills are required.

 Our current intern, John, attended a taping of FOX 4’s “Good Day” where he helped us set up for a segment featuring our client, Frontgate. Watch the segment  here .

Our current intern, John, attended a taping of FOX 4’s “Good Day” where he helped us set up for a segment featuring our client, Frontgate. Watch the segment here.

Internship responsibilities include:

  • Drafting and editing media materials including pitches, media alerts, news releases, backgrounders, fact sheets and media briefing books for clients
  • Creating/updating media lists
  • Tracking media coverage and updating clip logs for clients
  • Assisting with the development and execution of plans, events and activities that support client communication goals and objectives
  • Gathering and organizing editorial calendars
  • Reviewing newspapers/industry publications for client mentions
  • Researching media, clients, client competitors and/or other subjects requested by team
  • Assisting with social media planning and account maintenance for clients
  • Drafting posts for The Dala Daily (our blog) and social handles
  • Attending occasional PR industry events and participating in seminars, webinars and other professional training
  • Working within a client-focused team setting, interacting with all disciplines to get real-world experience and understanding of the collaborative nature of the agency environment
 Former rock star intern, Elizabeth, helped develop a pitch for our client, Trinity Christian Academy, which resulted in a “Hometown Heroes” segment on FOX 4.

Former rock star intern, Elizabeth, helped develop a pitch for our client, Trinity Christian Academy, which resulted in a “Hometown Heroes” segment on FOX 4.