Grace Leong serves as the managing partner for Hunter Public Relations.
Q1: Although you’ve had many Fortune 50 clients during your 28-year career in PR, you have worked for only one boss. What is the most important thing Barbara Hunter imparted to you?
Client service, client service, client service! The work is never done—you can always think harder, execute better, push further. Barbara Hunter was probably the hardest working person I’ve ever met in my life, next to my mother. Her work ethic is inspiring, and we’ve really created the culture at Hunter Public Relations based on it.
Q2: Tabasco Brand Pepper Sauce was your first client in 1989 and is still a client of Hunter PR today. Why are these kinds of long-term relationships so unusual in the industry and how has Hunter PR been so fortunate to buck the trend?
Again, I think the reason clients stick with us for so long is because they get the ultimate in client service, the ultimate in dedication and the ultimate in a staff that understands the industry and the target consumer. We celebrate an average client tenure of six years, and we won’t stop until it’s 10 years, 12 years or longer. Once people are in the family, we want them to stick around.
Q3: You hold an MBA from Rutgers University. With such a passion for marketing and building brands, why didn’t you become a brand manager?
I am a brand manager! And it’s not because of my MBA—it’s because I help my clients manage their brands through a PR lens. What story are we trying to tell about this brand and how can we do it efficiently using the power of word-of-mouth and the media? So, I am a brand manager—just not a traditional one holding a brand management position at a CPG company.
Q4: Hunter Public Relations is a women-led company and as CEO, you are a working mother with four kids of your own. What advice do you have for young women who want to “have it all”?
The advice I give is that you can have it all, but it’s not about having it all in every area; no human has that kind of bandwidth. Pick those one or two things you really want and do those really well, and it will pay off for you, because you figured out what was most important to you, and you went for it. For me, that’s being a good mother and a successful business owner.
Also, it’s so important to have the support of others—friends, family and colleagues. I truly have great partners within the agency, and I honestly don’t think I could do what I do as a mother and a business owner if it weren’t for the strong partnership that we have among the team here at Hunter PR.
Q5: When Hunter PR was named by PR News as one of the “Top Places to Work in PR,” you were even more excited than when the firm received seemingly more “prestigious” awards. Why?
Yes, we win a lot of awards for our clients, but this one was so special because it was about the culture we’ve created here at Hunter PR. As a business owner, my job, first and foremost, is to have the best talent want to come here and work hard. And if I was fortunate enough to build an environment that does that, then I should be celebrating!