Behind the Brand: K. Sutherland PR
Copy: Serena Faber Nelson
Photography: Rod Foster Photography
Want to know what makes a good dog product great? Kerry Sutherland is your go to girl.
Following a successful career at major PR firms, Kerry launched her own agency, K. Sutherland PR, in February 2012 and hasn’t looked back.
With a string of successful pet campaigns under their belt, K. Sutherland PR is now on speed dial for top pet brands wanting to get the industry barking.
With their HQ office in a hip historical landmark building in Orange County, the close knit team of four combines their love for PR and pets with amazing results.
Just a moment in their creative office has you overcome with a combination of style and success. From the ‘You Nailed It’ Nail Bar (Kerry buys her team members new hues with each new goal achieved – let me tell you these girls are well manicured!); to the sweet doggy touches adorning their desks – K. Sutherland PR brings together the innovative and the playful.
Kerry’s story is an inspiration to anyone wanting to make their mark in the pet industry. Combining professional know-how, with unbridled enthusiasm and the courage to take a leap of faith, this girl is one to watch.
Behind the Brand
Name: Kerry Sutherland
Title: Owner, K. Sutherland PR
Location: Offices in Irvine, California and Reno, Nevada
Tell us about K.Sutherland PR…
I own a boutique public relations agency that specializes in the pet industry. We work with pet product manufacturers primarily who are looking to increase their brand recognition, create “buzz” in their category and ultimately grow their sales.
How did you start out in PR?
I studied print journalism in college, and thought my dream job would be to write for a magazine. I didn’t even know what PR was really about, but traditional journalism went though some big changes around my graduation and jobs were sparse. After an internship at a PR agency, I quickly felt that it was the best fit for me- fast-paced, creative and still had a strong focus on writing which was important to me.
When did you launch K. Sutherland Public Relations? How did your brand came to fruition?
I launched K. Sutherland PR on February 8, 2012. Everything happened very quickly for me. My personal life brought on a variety of changes- all at once. I was a new (first-time nonetheless) mother, my husband, daughter and I had just moved away from our families and to a new state where we had zero connections, and a very close relative to me had passed away. I think the combination of those personal life changes made me think- “what am I waiting for, and what do I really have to lose?” And, just like that, and without a whole lot of thought or any planning, I left my stable “day job” and started K. Sutherland PR two weeks later. The timing was just right.
Why did you launch your own PR brand?
Because I believe if you’re going to gamble on anything- it should be yourself.
I had several years of “big” agency experience, and had basically worked my way up as far as I could go. And, while it was a great learning experience, I often felt like “if it were up to me, I’d do this-that-and-the-other-thing a lot differently.” My values (both personally and professionally), my priorities, my approach to pitching media, and working with clients, managing my team- just my style overall wasn’t really represented, nor could it have been. It wasn’t my agency. Now, I feel lucky every day to be running this business, and executing our work exactly as I want it done.
Why did you choose to focus on pet PR?
The pet industry really chose me. I’ve represented a variety of pet product brands and initiatives over the years, but didn’t expect to continue that work after I launched my new business. But, word got around quick, and in less than 2 months I started getting calls and referrals from pet product manufacturers, well-known pet media and industry leaders. Honestly, it was incredibly flattering and ultimately I was thrilled to continue my work in such a fun, exciting industry that I love so much.
Tell us about the dog behind the inspiration of K. Sutherland Public Relations.
My Jesse dog turned 15 years old last month. He was raised in the desert, but lives the beach-dog lifestyle now. He was an “only child” but now enjoys a new role in our home as “big brother” to our daughter, Audrey. He’s flexible, and quickly adapts to new environments, new people, and new adventures. His unconditional love and general happiness inspires me. I can’t wait to get home to Jesse every night after work. And, I don’t think he minds it either… Particularly since I often come home with some of the coolest pet products for him to sample!
What is an average day like in the life of Kerry Sutherland?
There’s no such thing as an average day- that’s what makes working in PR so fun! I always tell people- no matter how organized you are- you think you’ve perfectly planned your workday with a task list and associated deadlines, and then something comes up (like a reporter deadline or client “crisis”) and you have to completely shift your schedule. This job requires flexibility, being able to think and react quickly, leverage relevant news and trends, and efficiently manage your time. I’d say the only consistent for me day to day is pitching media. I’m always pitching story ideas and angles on behalf of my clients. The hardest thing for me isn’t really related to the work I do for clients, but rather managing all aspects of running the business. Not only am I a PR professional, but now I have to be an accounting, legal, and HR “expert” too. Sometimes juggling all the roles can be overwhelming, but whatever- it’s always SO worth it. And, of course, when I’m not working- I LOVE all the family time I can get!
What has been the highlight of your pet PR experience to date?
Whether it’s landing a larger media opportunity like Good Morning America, which our clients have been on a few times, or learning that a sole blogger review boosted sales for a client, the past year and a half has been extremely rewarding and filled with a variety of highlights… I can’t pick just one!
What do you look for in a good pet brand or product?
Simplicity. I appreciate easy-to-use, practical products that solve every day problems for pet owners. I also love a brand with a sense of style, attention to detail and willing to take a few risks in their marketing.
What advice would you give dog owners looking for great pet products?
Do your homework! I would search for the product online and see how others, albeit bloggers or consumers have experienced and reviewed the product. Also, be aware of knock-offs- typically the “original” line of a product is usually the best as they’ve gone through extensive research and development practices-unlike a company that just ripped off an idea.
How do you see the pet industry evolving in the coming years?
The Pet Industry is an industry that continues to expand, and I feel that pets are increasingly becoming synonymous with family members. This provides pet owners or “pet-parents” the opportunity to provide more unique experiences for their pets, just as they would their children. Additionally, as trends such as “green” products or tech-based products become popular for humans, it’s inevitable that the trend will trickle down to our pets as well.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in Pet PR?
Well, you better LIKE pets, ha! While the Pet Industry is generally an upbeat, positive industry to work in, at the end of the day, pet companies want to see their businesses prosper-just like any other industry. It’s important to keep focused on the bottom line which is increasing exposure and ultimately sales. Also, the industry is made up of some very influential players- doing your homework and knowing whom the key people are will help contribute to your Pet PR success.
What inspires you at work?
So much… Well, first off I’m so inspired by my team. I have a very intelligent, innovative group that makes creative brainstorming and strategy sessions for our clients so productive and fun. I love eclectic music, poetry/quotes/inspiring words, traveling…oh and wine. That never hurts.
What does the future hold for K. Sutherland Public Relations?
We will continue to take on and represent only pet product brands we genuinely like, would recommend to our friends, and are confident that our work will make a positive impact on their business. Over time and mostly because of our industry relationships, I do anticipate that we will expand our client-base to also include broader pet businesses outside of products such as non-profit, pet initiatives, and associations.
FOLLOW K. SUTHERLAND PR
Copy: Serena Faber Nelson
Photography: Rod Foster Photography