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By George

March 16, 2010
Kelli Fletcher & Allison Beale of George PR

Kelli Fletcher & Allison Beale of George PR

A good publicist can be a journalist’s best friend. A bad one, my worst nightmare.

I “met” Allison Beale last year while trying to get an interview with a company she represented for danapop. She coordinated that interview, and then many others to follow. So, after many emails, interviews and a few music suggestions later … we’ve struck up a bit of friendship all without having ever met each other in person.

And for the record, she’s just about the furthest thing from a nightmare I’ve ever “met.” Her company, George PR turns 5 this month, so in honor of that and all the great things she and her sister Kelli do, here’s a little Q&A with the girls from George in which we talk Skype, sisters, cities, and of course, spin…

George PR, may this be your best year yet!


danapop (dp) What made you want to start your own firm?

Allison Beale (ab) I was lucky enough to work for successful Internet start-up called She She Me after college.  The creator really involved me in the day-to-day running of the business and shared a lot of the ‘how-to’ with me.  I immediately fell in love with the all-consuming, top-to-bottom process that is small business.  She She Me allowed me to connect with several indie product designers and creators all desiring PR, but not in the traditional sense.  I wanted to bring something fresh, smart and nimble to these small companies that would help position them in the media and begin to create and grown brand awareness.  It all began very organically, and that’s how it continues to grow.

Kelli Fletcher (kf) This is mostly for AB, but I’ve just got to say, since day one, I’ve wanted to be a part of this. It’s truly both an honor + dream that we’ve finally teamed up.

dp Why George?

ab Ahh, pretty much the second, if not the first, anyone asks me.  It’s called George because we work pretty much exclusively with creators and designers that have struck out independently – whether leaving the corporate world or committed to indie business since day one – and are living their dream.  The name is a nod to their independence, their risk, their desires and our philosophy.

dp How is it working with your sister? And how has it changed your relationship?

ab It’s a gift everyday.  And working alongside each other has made our relationship even stronger.  If we thought we talked, laughed, shared incessantly before she came on board, we were mistaken!  My sister is one of the most amazing, beautiful, strongest people I’ve ever met.  The fact that she’s my sister is icing on the cake.  We liken it to scoring a fabulous find that you know will be a classic forever.  Simply stated: she’s my best friend, confidante and the reason I strive to be better.

kf It’s amazing. She’s always been the most fun person I know, and now I get to see her keen business sense and it’s brilliant. She’s beautiful, hilarious, stylish + sweet. I’ve always strived to be more like her. We basically sit on skype all day + crack each other up between brainstorming + emails. If it’s even possible, working together has made us closer than we already were.

dp What’s a typical day like for you?

ab COFFEE on the corner, Skyping with Kelli between phone calls + emails to editors.  Then there’s a significant amount of blogging and twittering about george PR clients.  I’m based in NYC now, so occasionally I book press appointments for clients launching new product.  From beginning to end we’re writing, staying fresh and creating constantly.

kf Get up. Grab coffee my hubby made. See him off to school + sign into my email. I then dial Allison on Skype + we begin to pitch, write, edit, email + design. We’ll jump off if one or both of us needs to head out for a meeting or errands. I also blog a fair amount for gpr + personally. When I get to a stopping place (whether in the middle of the day or at days end) I head to the gym. Most of the time, Allison + I talk again in the evenings – you know, just in case we missed anything after we closed down Skype.

dp I realize you don’t have celebrity clients per se, but I know when I was a publicist I used to think, “wow, that would be a hard one to spin.” So, who would be the ultimate celebrity PR nightmare for you?

ab Let’s be obvious and say Brittany Spears.  It’s true, everyone loves a comeback and so when she’s back on top (Hello, Womanizer) you’re a rockstar.  And when she’s not, well you will always have a job.  But, I couldn’t imagine steering her image or the stress involved with keeping her out of tabloids, convincing her to do this, that and the other.  You would always be waiting for the other shoe to drop.

kf I love her to death, but I have to say Jen Aniston. She’s ALWAYS in the press + there’s just no way to settle any of the gossip that follows her. It’s got to be hard trying to tell people she is seeing this person, or she isn’t seeing that one. That she’s not talking to Brad inappropriately, or she + Angie didn’t have it out on the phone. And then to still see that all in print despite what you say. That’s just got to be tough because I’d just want the poor girl to be able to get away from it + live her life. She’s gorgeous, in her 40s, successful + has survived an extremely public divorce. Can’t the gal just enjoy a deep breath without someone taking a picture?

dp Obviously I love your client list (as I’ve written about Paddywax, The Life Library, Bella Il Fiore, Asha Patel Designs, and Daisy Princess Paperie) is there one brand or company that you’d love to work with?

ab It would be impossible to narrow it down to one!  In looking back over the years and our client list, I can say that I’ve had the pleasure of working with my “wish list.”  That said, I adore fashion and would really, really love to add an emerging designer to our list.

kf Allison + I both love fashion. We have slightly different styles, but we also have a lot in common. Representing an up-and-coming designer/clothing line would be pretty cool.

dp What were you two like as children?

ab My parents say I was exactly the same – attitude and looks.  I, of course, don’t believe the looks part.  But, I was talkative, a little bossy (sorry Kel), driven, curious and emotional.  I wanted to be a part of everything around me and then nothing at all.  I’ve always been a “crowd pleaser” (get that from our Dad), but would often need “my time” too.  Right off the bat I loved my sister though – I was proud of her before I understood what that word meant.  And we were always close, growing closer through the years.  It’s really quite amazing the kind of relationship we have.

kf Oh man. I was imaginative, curious and extremely active. My parents say that I always seemed to care more about what others were feeling than what I felt myself. I wasn’t into shopping or being bought things, I just liked to…be (mostly outside in the sun). I was probably also pretty annoying as a little sis – anything Allison did, I had to do too (for the record, I always thought she did it better). Anything she wore, I stole and wore, the list goes on. But I remember being besties. Even then, on the playground, we always had each other’s backs. Not much from the above has changed – except now she gives me things instead of me sneaking them away!

dp I imagine you’re always on the go and quite busy…what’s your go-to vacation spot or favorite place to wind down?

ab I’ve learned to appreciate my parents’ house so much more now that I live in my own.  It’s truly a homecoming.  They have a vacation home in Emerald Isle, NC and both Kel and I escape to it to relax and restore.  It’s one of the few places I can truly get away from work, life.

kf When I was in NC, it was Emerald Isle. Our parents have a vacation home there (it’s actually where I got married) and nothing can soothe my soul like the view from that sand. But now, up here in Cambridge, we head to Mashnee Island on Cape Cod. My husband’s grandparents bought a place out there in the 60s and it’s so quiet + quaint. We watch the boats + eat lobster – not a bad second!

dp What do you like to do when you’re not working?

ab I’m a ‘new’ New Yorker, so I’m still in the romantic stage of wandering the neighborhoods looking for inspiration, for shops, for nooks. . . When I stay put or inside, I love to read and to write.  And I’m always up for travel.

kf I head out to vintage boutiques around Cambridge – I love looking for clothing + house wares. Or walk up to bookstores in Harvard Square. If it’s a nice day, I’ll go into Boston. I just love walking around where there are lots of people on the streets. Also, my husband + I take little day trips to do fun quirky New-England activities, like picking apples, walking the freedom trail or driving to Salem. And I work out.

dp I know you’re really into music, who are you listening to these days?

ab I can’t get enough of Phoenix.  In addition, I’ve got The XX, The Stars, Jay-Z, Telekinesis, Grizzly Bear, The Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, Al Green, The Rolling Stones and Passion Pit in pretty heavy rotation on my iPod.  I’m a playlist girl so I usually compile songs that are striking a note (no pun intended) with me emotionally or inspirationally and keep it on shuffle to mix it up.

kf I’m really into electronic-indie-dance-rock sort of stuff. I’ve got the new Hot Chip on constant play right now. Passion Pit still tops my list, as does Phoenix. Tigercity, Grizzly Bear, The XX, Julian Casablancas…I also love good old-fashioned funk music from the 60s + 70s as well as beach music. Basically anything that can get me on the dance-floor, I’m down with.

dp What’s the transition from Raleigh to Manhattan been like? How do they both influence your work?

ab Before I left I would have said it was the most difficult thing I’ve done – deciding to pick up and move just because.  Looking back the transition seems so much easier.  Sort of a, “what took me so long?” kind of feeling.  But I’m really happy about the timing of my move and the pace in which I moved personally and professionally.  Moving to New York, which by the way was always a dream for me, has been so much more rewarding than I could have ever imagined.  Raleigh was such a fantastic place to live and start a business – there is an incredible amount of support and a very tight network in Raleigh for creative professionals.  I miss that.  The connection in New York takes longer, but it’s pretty powerful when you do begin to connect.  And I remind myself everyday that outside my door lies a vast city full of inspiration.

dp Here’s a few best of questions for each of your cities:

ab Best restaurant – My faves are Dell’Anima for bolognese, Balthazar (it’s a standard and there is no better place for steak frites), Blue Ribbon for late night oysters and fried chicken and Barrio Chino, which is a killer little spot in my neighborhood that blends Latin + Asian flavors

Best place to grab a drink – The Dove, Clandestino, Lucky Strike

Best go-to non-chain boutique – Ina in NoLita for great designer scores, Phillip Lim, because it’s Phillip Lim, Something Wicked + Edith Machinist for hands-down amazing vintage finds.

Best landmark / place that best sums up your city – The Chrysler Building: shining, visible, stunning, classic.  I kept a miniature statue of it on my desk in Raleigh, and its beauty is never lost on me when I catch a glimpse of on my morning coffee walk, in Midtown or especially at night.  To me, it symbolizes hope for what’s to come.

kf Best restaurant: East Coast Grill. It’s our go-to for dinner, but also for their Cuban-influenced brunch with a make your own Bloody Mary bar. They cure their own meats + the atmosphere is so much fun – always a big, happy crowd.

Best place to grab a drink: For a cocktail I’m going to be a bit cheesy + say the top of the Prudential Center. It’s a good cocktail, but what you can’t beat is the 360-degree view of the city. For a beer it’s Cambridge Common – right around the corner from us. They have 50 beers on tap + you can get one for less than $5. That’s pretty rare around these parts.

         Best go-to non-chain boutique: I shop mostly vintage + second-hand, so I’d say Poor Little Rich Girl, Second Time Around + Oona’s are where I find   all my gems. I’ve made away with some steals that have become staples in my wardrobe. When I want something bright, shiny + new, I head to Mint          Julep in Cambridge or Dress on Newbury St.

Best landmark / place that best sums up your city: I’ve got to say the gates leading into Harvard Yard + the rest of the University. Right in the middle of Cambridge, they are these massive steel gates that are beautiful. Students pass in + out, symbolizing the scholastic presence that all the universities in the area bring; tourists from all over the world stand and take pictures in front of them, symbolic of the diversity in Cambridge + Boston. And they are so dang old, symbolizing the general, amazing history that both cities have.