Giving Thanks: The Highwire Way


At Highwire, Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday – and for good reason! It offers our teams a chance to step away from work to cook and share a meal together. This year each of our offices celebrated Thanksgiving in different ways, but each meal had a few things in common: laughter, gratitude and plenty of turkey.

Check out these photos to see how our San Francisco, Chicago and New York offices celebrated Thanksgiving.


Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is

SF Office North Bay fundraiser

by Tricia Nugent

At Highwire one of our core values is balance — and part of finding balance is creating opportunities to explore our personal passions in our work lives. A passion of mine has long been giving back to communities in need, so this Giving Tuesday I’m happy to share some of the initiatives we’ve undertaken at Highwire to give back to our local communities.

This past October our New York City office volunteered as a group at a Ronald McDonald House to cook lunch for families in residence there. Ronald McDonald House Charities provide, among other services, free housing and meals to patients receiving critical treatment at hospitals far from their homes. Our volunteers spent an afternoon preparing pizzas and salads and serving them to a grateful and hungry group. The experience was as fun as it was rewarding — and the pizzas weren’t bad either!

Following a string of wildfires north of the San Francisco Bay, Highwire’s San Francisco office organized and hosted an evening fundraiser event to raise money for victims who lost their homes and belongings. The event involved cheese, oysters, auction prizes, a raffle and lots of wine, and ultimately raised over $18,000 for the North Bay fire recovery effort via donations to the Redwood Credit Union.

As the weather has cooled back on the East Coast, our NYC office has once again begun collecting coats for the annual New York Cares Coat Drive. Exploring another Highwire value of collaboration, we involve our entire building in the effort to collect warm coats to be distributed to the homeless throughout the winter. We’re off to a good start and hope to fill even more bags this year to spread the warmth farther across the city.

In the past, our San Francisco office has worked with Family Dog Rescue and the Raphael House. Our Chicago office has worked with the Salvation Army and the Lincoln Park Conservancy, and our NYC office also worked with Bideawee and the good+foundation.

I’m grateful to work for a company that supports and shares my passions and gives back to our communities not just on Giving Tuesday, but every day. How are you celebrating this Giving Tuesday? Feel free to share in the comments.

Why You Should Skip the Selfie During Your Next Museum Trip

Image source: Melia Robinson/Business Insider

The Color Factory, 29Rooms, Museum of Ice Cream. What do all three of these places have in common? Millennials love them. Pop-up museums are the newest Instagram-worthy trend targeting selfie-loving millennials. Who wouldn’t want to take a picture in a giant yellow ball pit or try sweet treats from famous ice cream shops around the U.S.?

These multi-sensory exhibits showcase a different side of art: accessibility. No longer do you have to take an Instagram photo from behind a velvet rope without the flash on. These pop-up museums actually encourage you to physically interact with exhibits and take photos. Drawing on walls with giant markers, playing in rooms with snow-like confetti sprinkling from the ceiling, and diving into a giant pool of sprinkles allows people to experience art in unique ways.

But if you’re hiding behind a small screen and taking photos or boomerangs, are you enjoying the full experience? Or a better question, will you remember the details of the delicious taste of the ice cream or the the colors of the flowers dangling from above? Unfortunately, probably not. Research shows that if you’re taking a picture, you’re focused on the act of taking a picture, not the action happening around it.

This “photo-taking impairment effect” was studied at an art museum. Students were broken into separate groups, one group taking photos of objects and the others just observing. Back in the lab, very few students who took photos could remember important details about the objects, compared to those who simply observed.

Why is this? The researcher believed that the students who used cameras were impaired, because they subconsciously counted on the camera to remember the nitty gritty details. The researcher also cautioned against thinking of photos as memories. Although the photo will remain the same, your will memories change over time. Thanks, brain!

Does this mean you should stop taking photos? Of course not. Just remember that it’s about more than getting the perfect photo for social. Maybe try putting down your phone or limiting yourself to a few photos per visit.

Highwire Spotlight: Behind the Scenes with Our Training Program

Introducing our training program to ensure success in PR


Just as technology, politics and culture change at a rapid pace, so do the skills required to succeed in the business communications landscape.  As PR professionals, we are expected to stay at the top of our game and one of the best ways to do that is by constantly challenging ourselves to learn and try new things.

Through the Highwire Training Program, we aim to not only train the skills required for the job (pitching, messaging, writing, etc.) but also for business. To that end, we bring in improv coaches, productivity experts and management consultants to train us in those areas.

Three team members collaborating on a work projectThe Highwire Training Program consists of five complementary pillars:

  • PR Skills: Based on skill level, we offer two tracks: Fundamentals and Advanced
  • Writing/Editing/Pitching: Featuring our writing coach Lauren Edwards from WriteCulture, who conducts monthly level-specific writing, editing and pitching sessions and is available year-round for 1:1 consultations
  • Mid-Management Training: Specifically guides Senior Account Executives through the transition to the Account Manager role
  • Reporter Lunch & Learn: Reporters and editors give us the lowdown on how they work and how we can work best together  
  • Monthly Sessions: A catch-all for the larger skill areas such as productivity and time management, business development, management skills and improv

The old adage goes, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” Nowhere is that more relevant than in communications, where you’re only as good as your last article or tweet. Maintaining a solid training program with regular input from all levels is one of the keys to achieve relevancy and proficiency.


Keep an eye out for upcoming posts where we share our knowledge about what we’ve learned in training. And learn on!

How to Give Your Employees Real Benefits, Not Just Cheap Perks

Fancy perks don’t solve the work-life balance problem.


As any entrepreneur will attest, perhaps the most difficult tasks in running a business are attracting, retaining and supporting a strong workforce.

Common solutions to this problem come in the form of sweet perks, designed to showcase a company’s commitment to work-life balance. But, does providing unlimited vacation time, free meals and remote work options truly address your employees’ needs?

Point blank: No, perks alone do not do the job. Furthermore, balance is just a fairy tale. Work-life balance is an illusion and practically impossible to reach. Whatever work-life balance may be is subjective to individuals, making it virtually impossible to pin down universal perks, which can make work-life balance a reality for every employee. Consider how long the issue of work-life balance has been around, despite thousands of articles circulated around the topic.

Clearly, perks matter, but it doesn’t solve the issue of work-life balance.

Employers should aim for personalized fulfillment, based on the flexibility of giving each employee the work environment he or she needs. It’s about providing a challenging and engaging environment in which employees are empowered to take matters into their own hands. The feeling of balance, if reachable, is about granting employees control over how they work.

The faults of startup perks

Although perks are abundant in startups – especially in Silicon Valley — perks’ underlying nature is what actually keeps workers from being fulfilled and comfortable at work.

For one, the perks are presented as extras and not as normal aspects of a person’s job, erring on the side of work and not life. For example, free, daily lunch actually prevents people from leaving the office, getting fresh air and supporting local businesses.

Unlimited vacation time or work-from-home days have long been favored by many as an opportunity to achieve work-life balance, but often its subjection to manager discretion makes employees hesitant to take full advantage of this perk.

Ask anyone who has had the perk of unlimited time off, and they will tell you they actually take less time off and have no pay-out if they leave the company. Furthermore, don’t forget about the employee guilt involved in flexibility.

Working from home, in fact, leads to longer hours for most employees, when compared to those who don’t – usually because they feel like they could work more or that they slacked off.

Yes, it can be a great option for workers, who need to be at home more often, such as parents or people with long commutes. But just as many employees likely prefer to come into the office everyday due to roommate situations, lack of infrastructure or just a desire to be with the team.

Additionally, perks – like sleeping pods, on-premise dry cleaning and massages — are a guise for keeping employees at work longer. It undermines the feeling of fulfillment and the very idea of work-life balance because it all becomes part of the job.

Putting the power in their hands

Since the founding of Highwire Public Relations, I have placed a premium on making it a place in which all of our employees feel happy and fulfilled.

While balance is a goal for some people, I’ve personally felt most fulfilled at points when I’ve been extremely unbalanced.

While that pace may not be sustainable or desirable, the revelation is that balance is not something that can be scripted by day or week, team or office. Balance is highly personal and changes with tenure, life stage and opportunity.

We began by offering perks, like work-from-home days, summer Fridays, catered food and offsite events. But as I described above, universally applied perks alone couldn’t provide what we needed. So we pivoted and started asking our employees what they wanted – individually, not by office or department.

Unsurprisingly, it ranged from happy hours to more paid time off (PTO) days. And that’s when it clicked. Everyone has their own idea of work-life balance, and management would never be able to guess or fulfill them all. So instead, we focus on empowerment, and now, we ask employees to take happiness into their own hands. Ask for what you need; open your minds and hearts to new possibilities; support your colleagues; and trust them to do the same for you.

It’s worked. But don’t take my word for it, a recent paper published in American Sociological Review had a similar conclusion after examining the effect of Situation, Task, Actions, and Results (STAR), an organizational intervention designed to promote greater employee control over work time and greater supervisor support for workers’ personal lives.

According to the American Sociological Review, STAR reduced burnout, perceived stress and psychological distress, and increased job satisfaction.

The key is in allowing employees to work how they work best and the results speak for themselves. This isn’t a laissez-faire scenario, but employees should feel empowered to ask for what they want when they want it. Moreover, asking about employees’ lives outside of work provides a comfort and sense of belonging that sterile company perks, designed to keep you at the office, cannot.

In all, work-life balance is unachievable in the way most businesses approach it today. No matter how convenient or fun you make work, it’s still work. Organizations should instead opt to provide the agency for employees to work comfortably, and recognize that needs and desires change over time. It’s about giving up just the right amount of control because long hours do not equal better work. Happy employees do.


This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur on May 28, 2017.

Meet the Furry Friends of Highwire

It’s no secret that Highwire is a pet-friendly place, and in honor of National Pet Week, we’re dedicating a blog to some of our favorite furry (and not so furry) friends.

If these cute faces have you itching for a companion of your own, you can use Shelter Pal to find the perfect shelter pet near you who is ready to be rescued. Just text ‘Shelter Me’ to 980-477-3728 — Artificial intelligence and image recognition powered by Twilio will help match your lifestyle with the perfect pet!

Meet a few of our best friends: 


Olive Besa-Kallens Wolfson

Instagram Handle: @oliveinmypocket

City: Albany, CA

Hobbies: Eating books and pretending to read them

Highwire Human: Ben Wolfson




Amaebi & Domino

City: Daly City, CA

Hobbies: Eating and maintaining my big-girl status (Amaebi); sneaking into the bed at night to cuddle with my humans (Domino)

Highwire Human: Amy Tsui



Gup & Farfalle Carrubba

Instagram Handle: @farfallethepup

City: San Francisco

Hobbies: Frog-dogging in the sun, snoring loudly, bringing joy to everyone I meet (Farf); Hanging out with my boy and figuring out how my crazy long legs and paws work (Gup)

Highwire Human: Carol Carrubba



Winston Wrinkles Hagenmedia-20170508-3

Instagram Handle: @winston_the_frenchton

City: Chicago

Hobbies: Procuring socks, enjoying fine cheeses,
going on
long walks and being carried home from them

Highwire Human: Natalie Pacini



Ella Farrellmedia-20170508-4

City: New York City

Hobbies: Playing fetch and eating tuna

Highwire Human: Margaret Farrell






Rosie Manganmedia-20170508-5

City: Danville, CA

Hobbies: Long walks in the suburbs and identifying new pillows to sleep on

Highwire Human: Natalie Mangan




Peppa GagliardiGG (1)

City: North Caldwell, NJ

Hobbies: Hide-and-seek on my own terms

Highwire Human: Gia Gagliardi







Maxx PlatiFullSizeRender

Instagram Hashtag: #maxxthehuman

City: Chicago

Hobbies: Eating acorns and chasing squirrels

Highwire Human: Nicole Plati




Hendrix Polar Torresmedia-20170508-1

City: El Sobrante, CA

Hobbies: Playing in water, helping with yard work (sticks involved), and steering clear of doorstops (scary)

Highwire Human: Andrea Torres






Baz Khya & RodeoScreen Shot 2017-05-08 at 12.34.04 PM

: New York City

Hobbies: Hoarding trash (Baz Khya); lying in the snow and wrestling (Rodeo)

Highwire Human
: Natalie Tijerina





Cotton media-20170508-11Davick-Latham

: Oakland

Hobbies: Perfecting the “Dog with the Pearl Earring” look

Highwire Human: Tanner Latham






Taco Harlanmedia-20170508-8

City: New York City

Hobbies: Sleeping on people (including my human baby sister Sloane), sleeping on books, finding new and interesting surfaces to sleep on

Highwire Human: Jennifer Harlan







Willie Gratehousemedia-20170508-12

City: San Francisco & Sonoma

Hobbies: Barking at leaf blowers, enjoying treats and going on walks

Highwire Human: Kathleen Gratehouse






Pepper Navaltamedia-20170508-13

City: San Francisco

Hobbies: Chasing shadows (not a metaphor)

Highwire Human: Chris Navalta







Theo Hillsmedia-20170508-16

City: Providence, RI

Hobbies: Chewing on walls, but my human is trying to get me to expand my horizon

Highwire Human: Chris Hills







media-20170508-15Ella Bean Fitzgerald & Mimi Giachetti

City: Oakland

Hobbies: Being active and trying to make friends with Mimi (Ella); sleeping, trying to avoid Ella (Mimi)

Highwire Human
: Gina Giachetti





Mickey Militanamedia-20170508-14

City: Chicago

Hobbies: Serving as the cutest ring-bearer you’ve ever seen

Highwire Human:  Marlena Militana







Benny Bubbico Ciullamedia-20170508-17

Instagram Handle: @thebennybubs

City: White Plains, NY

Hobbies: Chasing balls and bunnies in the backyard

Highwire Human: Lindsay Ciulla





Oliver (Ollie) Gauthiermedia-20170508-18

City: Oakland

Hobbies: Licking plastic bags, playing with my toy carrot and eating our house plants

Highwire Human: Mariah Gauthier







Maggie Sedin10411775_10205253064705191_4162205524789019084_n

City: Fremont, CA

Hobbies: Eating, sleeping and avoiding kisses from my human

Highwire Human: Marielle Sedin






Annie Smedleymedia-20170508-19

City: Santa Clara, CA

Hobbies: Throwing toys across the room and knocking things over

Highwire Human: Shane Smith







Indo ReedMendocinoSand

Facebook Page:

: Alameda, CA

Being the ultimate hunk and carrying around things like buckets and tools

Highwire Human: Jill Reed




Do you have any fur babies powering your agency? Let us know in the comments below (and share plenty of pictures please)!

Making an Impact on Earth Day

One of the truly great things about Highwire PR is the passionate group of people that work here. Highwire employees are passionate about improving their communities. We’re passionate about helping animals, working with displaced communities and families, helping people out during times when they need it most, and ensuring the places that we live and breathe are sustainable.

This past weekend marked the 47th anniversary of Earth Day, and so we wanted to take a moment to celebrate some of the great work that our team has done to take care of our Mother Earth.


Building a Clean and Sustainable Community

For the past few years, the San Francisco team has joined forces with some of our Bay Area PR agency friends to “Rock the Earth.” Annually, we help clean up and protect a local lake that’s near and dear to our hearts — Mountain Lake.

Mountain Lake is one of San Francisco’s last surviving natural lakes and the only natural lake in the entire 80,000-acre Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The lake has been through a lot in its 2,000 years, beginning in 1939 when a highway was constructed nearby, shrinking its size and causing pollution. Since then, runoff from fertilizer at the neighboring golf course has added to the pollution and countless pets and other animals (goldfish, turtles and even an alligator) have been released into the lake, forcing out the native wildlife and damaging the ecological system.

This year, Bay Area PR agencies got their hands dirty to help by removing invasive plant species, laying down mulch for native plants, and shoveling sediment from ditches that led directly to the lake.

Park Clean Up

San Francisco team members Marisa Hutton and Marielle Sedin clear out ditches during “Rock the Earth.”


Cleaning up the Trash

Earlier this year, the Chicago team (with special SF guest Shari) got their hands dirty at Lincoln Park Conservancy to assist in wild habitat restoration by pulling and weeding out non-native plant species in the park.

This Saturday, they came together again to pick up trash at the historic Lincoln Park. The team worked with other locals to mulch around park trees and trails, cleared winter debris, planted native wildflowers and grasses, and cleaned up the park. The Highwire crew specifically worked on painting and refurbishing benches in the park.

The New York team joined in the fun as well to pick up trash as part of Central Park’s “Pick Up, Pitch In,” initiative, beautifying the most visited park in the United States.

Chicago Park Cleanup

Brenna Hogan, Natalie Pacini and Erika Ackerman of the Chicago office paint benches at Lincoln Park on Earth Day.


Loving the Earth Year Round

Beyond cleaning up our local parks on earth day, the Highwire team makes an impact on the environment all year long.

The Chicago office often partners with Green City Market to support the growth of sustainable food. Green City Market seeks to support small family farms and promote good health through education and appreciation for local, fresh, sustainably raised produce and products.

Earlier this year, the San Francisco team joined the global CleanSpace movement, becoming part of the first cohort of citizen scientists collecting air quality data for “MapSF.” By carrying around iPhone-sized sensors known as a “Clean Space Tag”, the team is collecting data about the air quality of where we live, breathe and work, and contributing to an air quality heat map across the Bay Area. The data will be used to keep track of the air quality across the area and improve our daily lives.

To find out how you can get involved in projects that help the environment on Earth Day and throughout the year, visit the Earth Day website or


You’re Never Too Old for a Guiding Hand—The Importance of Mentors In the Workplace

The real world—the scariest thing you can say to graduating seniors. Last week I had the opportunity to attend Syracuse University’s career fair for its Newhouse School of Public Communications—one of the most prestigious PR programs in the U.S., and alma mater for several Highwire pros. The suits and blouses mixed in with last night’s bar stamps made me remember how uncomfortable the transition between academia and “the real world” can be.

One of the things that has become increasingly important for new employees is working in an environment that values workplace diversity. But, despite being something all organizations strive for, the numbers proving the ineffectiveness of “trying” continue to drive headlines. From the larger tech community to venture capital, it will remain a pain point until the right programs are created and the shift happens from the top down.

Kim Hunter, President and CEO of Lagrant Communications, spoke about diversity in the workplace at the Newhouse Recruitment Dinner. One of his key points presented when discussing retention efforts once programs are put in place to make diversity in the workplace a priority was the importance of mentors.

Attending Syracuse faculty, PR professionals and more discussed the fact that coming into a workplace where others look different than you can be especially intimidating for entry-level employees. But by providing a mentor from the start, we can help diminish that intimidation and create a sense of community from the very start. Not only should employers provide a mentor or manager, they should encourage employees to seek out other mentors as they continue to grow at the company.

At Highwire, I’ve had the privilege of having great mentors guide me throughout my career. But seeking out internship programs that had a mentorship program in place wasn’t on my top list of must-have’s when job hunting as a senior in college. That was a mistake. Luckily for me, I landed at a place where mentorship and professional development are a priority for the firm.

For graduating students everywhere, I encourage you to find an organization that values mentorship. It will not only help you through your first grueling eight-hour workday, but that person might be someone you look to for the rest of your career.

And one last piece of advice—tell the local bar bouncer to stamp your wrist not hand so you can hide last night from potential employers. Welcome to the real world.

To learn more about Highwire’s internship program and review available positions, please see below.

Highwire’s Internship Program stands out in our industry. With dedicated managers and mentors supporting your growth and an immediate contributing role on real client teams, Highwire interns get the coaching and experience that builds confidence and hones PR skills. We are looking for recent graduates that are passionate about pursing a career in PR and will take the initiative to make the most of this opportunity.

Responsibilities include:

  • Attending client meetings and the art of the action item
  • Compiling media coverage into client facing clip reports
  • Researching reporters, blogs and social media sites
  • Trend research
  • Drafting pitches and press materials
  • Conducting customer interviews
  • Writing press releases and blog posts
  • Social media
  • Advanced measurement and reporting

Internship Requirements:

  • College graduate
  • An enthusiastic self-starter with a ‘can do’ attitude
  • An eye for detail and an ability to multi-task
  • Strong writing and editing skills
  • Ability to navigate and master social media and social networking sites
  • Genuine interest in technology and technology companies
  • A background and/or experience in PR, journalism, English, political campaigns, technology and/or marketing is preferred

Please find our available internship positions here.

Highwire Named 2016 Small PR Agency of the Year by PRWeek

Fast Growth and Direct Client Business Impact Separate Highwire from the Rest

We are pleased and honored to announce that Highwire PR was chosen as the 2016 Small PR Agency of the Year by PRWeek at the 17th Annual PRWeek Awards in New York.

As one of the industry’s highest honors given annually to the best corporate, nonprofit and agency teams—and the campaigns they produce—the award is a testament of the creative excellence, effective execution and tenacity of our agency.

Highwire strives to create a meaningful business impact for our clients starting with providing our team with the tools, support and environment needed to deliver on each campaign above and beyond the call of duty. As a result, our agency has enjoyed a momentous year, both in the growth of our team and client roster as well as our service offerings across content, digital and measurement.

We couldn’t be more proud for this recognition and the passionate, collaborative spirit espoused at Highwire that has gotten us this far. It’s the reason for this award and the force behind the successful partnerships we have with our clients.

This is the latest award for Highwire. Previous awards and accolades include the Inc. 5000, PR News’ Top Places to Work in PR, San Francisco Business Times’ Fastest Growing Private Companies in the Bay Area, Holmes Report Tech PR Agency of the Year and finalist for PR News’ Platinum New Award for a small agency.

To learn more about the Highwire team and the unparalleled work it produces, follow @highwirepr.

Investing in Our Future: Corporate Social Responsibility


Investing in Your Brand — What You Need to Know

What draws you to a brand? Is it their logo, their name or their values?

For most, it’s brand awareness fueled by a personal connection to the brand and company. Apple, Lego and the Walt Disney Company are examples of companies who exemplify this personal connection. What each also has in common is a sense of corporate social responsibility (CSR) at their core.  A CSR program touches everything from products to business decisions, serving as the glue, solidifying customer loyalty.  If you are thinking about launching your own CSR campaign or trying to reinvigorate the connection your business has with its customers, here are the reasons why 64 percent of CEOs are increasing their investments in corporate social responsibility this year.

Community Impact and Engagement: A CSR program can mean many things–supporting causes, exerting positive societal influence, and displaying environmental responsibility to name a few.  Salesforce and Highwire client for example have a 1-1-1 model, where each company dedicates one percent of their product, revenue and employees’ time to impact lives for good. Whether by volunteering with local nonprofits (think about the causes that matter to your employees) or funding programs such as education and technology innovation, these investments make a large impact on both the local community and employees, fueling brand perceptions and recruiting efforts. and its Do Good Foundation was recently recognized by the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce for not only succeeding in its industry but also making an impact in the local community, giving back to its roots and having a positive effect in the region.

Build Trust – Invest in Your Company’s Future: CSR builds trust with employees and customers. It also creates more engaged employees and employees that are 38 percent more loyal.  When thinking about how to inspire your employees and build trust think about the initiatives that you can take on that map back to who you are as a business. How does your founding story inspire who you want to become and how you want to be perceived? Answering these questions will help your business build trust organically and authentically.

One great example is Highwire client Twilio. From the beginning, Twilio’s origins centered around nine core values that touched every part of the business from building products to running the business. As a company built by developers, Twilio likes to celebrates the doers – those people and companies within their community that are using technology in awesome ways. So in 2013, Twilio launched its nonprofit arm to give nonprofits access to the same technologies Fortune 500s are using. The result is a growing number of nonprofits that use Twilio’s cloud communications to solve some of the world’s problems. Examples include the Polaris Project rescuing victims of human trafficking, Doctors Without Borders building better care programs for tuberculosis patients and even reducing disaster response times by 50 percent for the American Red Cross. For Twilio, staying true to its roots and its core value helped it to launch an initiative that will not only help grow its business but also create a company that employees can feel proud to work for.

Value Enhancing: Consumers are demanding more from brands, increasingly rewarding companies whose services and products are both good for them and good for society. This demand also occurs in the workplace as prospective employees look for companies whose core values match their own. A CSR program helps with this outward perception, improving how outside third parties think about a brand. If you need more convincing, a recent Harvard Business School study found that investments in sustainability issues are “shareholder-value increasing” – meaning communicating your CSR program will impact your bottom line.

Have you successfully launched a CSR program? What’s your story?