Get to know Kate Glaviano, Public Relations Associate

Public relations is all about relationships—the people behind the stories. That’s why we’re offering this blog series all about our team members. This isn’t about our professional accomplishments but who we are as people. We hope you have as much fun reading along as we do interviewing each other.

1. What got you interested in public relations?

As a student at DePaul University, the communications classes I took, along with community involvement, fostered a passion within me for all kinds of media and their ever-changing landscapes. It wasn’t long before I realized how much is involved behind the scenes regarding media relations and creating truly effective communication. I think I knew pretty quickly this was something I wanted to be a part of, and a career in public relations became my path.

2. Tell us about your favorite movie and what appeals most to you about it?

I enjoy tragic films, your typical “almost was” story. One such movie I’ve watched several times is One Day with Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. I enjoy movies that are realistic to the point where you could put yourself in a character’s shoes. If the story is told right, you find yourself feeling what the characters are supposed to be feeling.

3. What was the last, best book you read and what about it spoke to you?

The last, best book I read was Body Counts by Sean Strub. When I read it for the first time, I couldn’t put it down and when I finished, I immediately started over. It was just too good for one reading. Strub’s ability to authentically tell his story spoke volumes to me and gave a huge amount of perspective of the time. 

4. Tell us about a meaningful hobby or “outside of work” commitment that is important to you?

Music is a necessary hobby for me. I play a few instruments and like to mess around and free my brain whenever possible. I have found music is a great way to get the creative juices flowing when writers block sets in or when I need a moment to think.

5. Share a fun fact about you.

I became a retired chef at 22. I worked in restaurants throughout college and became competitive, wanting to learn as much as possible about food and the restaurant industry. Before diving into my career in public relations, I was the chef de cuisine in a Chicago Michelin recognized restaurant.

Giving Thanks: Acknowledging the Small but Mighty Work of The MOG Project

By Eileen Coyne, Director of Public Relations, Kimball Hughes Public Relations

During this season of Thanksgiving, we want to take time to recognize a special organization for the tremendous good they are doing and for the hope they are inspiring in at least one small part of the rare disease community.

The MOG Project is a young nonprofit working to promote awareness of a rare neuroinflammatory autoimmune disease found in people of all ages and children in particular. Myelin Oligodendrocyte Glycoprotein Antibody Disease (MOG-AD) is a newer disease only recently identified via an antibody test in 2017. The disease causes dangerous inflammation in the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. Due to its similarities with Multiple Sclerosis, it is often misdiagnosed as MS, which The MOG Project is fighting to change. Such a misdiagnosis can lead to incorrect treatments and prove harmful to the patient.

For us at Kimball Hughes Public Relations, we are passionate about donating our time to non-profit organizations, and for me, the MOG Project is personal.

In the Spring of 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 lockdowns, my elementary school-aged son was diagnosed with MOG-AD. Unfortunately, it took weeks of frightening symptoms including tear-inducing headaches, fevers, relentless vomiting, chronic fatigue, severe leg weakness, long hospital stays and the loss of nearly 20 percent of his body weight before the doctors came to a diagnosis. Lesions on his brain and spine found in an MRI led his team of physicians to ultimately test for MOG-AD. He was positive. And, as I understand it, we were lucky. My son was a patient at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), a leading pediatric institution recognized around the world for its research, treatment and care.

Again, we are fortunate to be a patient at CHOP where my son’s MOG-AD has been well managed. I am convinced that many hospitals around the country would not have known to test for this rare disease and may have even misdiagnosed him. He had two MOG-AD flares early on that manifested themselves by blurring and darkening his vision, but since receiving regular therapy, he has been healthy and well with 20/20 vision – attending school, playing sports and having fun with his friends.

A diagnosis of a rare disease, like MOG-AD, is more than just frightening. It can feel isolating at times. While I had the support of my family, friends and incredible colleagues at Kimball Hughes PR, I needed more. When I was ready to seek additional guidance and support, I came across The MOG Project. Little information was available online about MOG-AD, but The MOG Project was there to show me and my family we weren’t alone. Other patients, doctors and researchers are working diligently to encourage research, enhance treatments, and in due course, finding a cure. I immediately connected with the founder of The MOG Project Julia Lefelar and soon after Kimball Hughes PR began providing public relations services on a pro bono basis.

As public relations professionals, we inherently recognize the value in raising the public profiles of our clients. We understand the meaningful impact a smart media placement can have on an any organization – let alone an advocacy group so passionately dedicated to advancing awareness, educating the medical community, supporting patients and caregivers, and promoting research around a rare disease.

We hope to help this amazing group of remarkable individuals and industry-leading researchers bring MOG-AD to the forefront. Working with The MOG Project, the patients it supports and the influential doctors on its board, we’ve learned that in fighting for better outcomes for patients with one rare disease, we can help promote better outcomes for all. Please check out The MOG Project at https://mogproject.org/.

The State of Online Retail with Ben Virdee-Chapman

As online retail continues to evolve in the wake of the pandemic, Kimball Hughes Public Relations sat down with a leader in the ecommerce space, Obviyo VP of Marketing Ben Virdee-Chapman, to discuss where the industry may be headed in the coming months. Obviyo, formerly Hi-Conversion, offers ecommerce merchants a hyper-personalized ecommerce experience, using customer data and machine learning to better address shoppers needs.

Here, Chapman shares how the industry will evolve in the next 5 to 10 years, including how the purchasing marketplace will change, whether we can expect greater accuracy in online shopping in the years to come and if brick-and-mortar is dead to today’s online retail shoppers.

HiConversion: Surviving the Retail Recovery

How has the reopening of businesses and the return to travel impacted merchants who relied heavily on ecommerce throughout the pandemic? Zee Aganovic, CEO and co-founder of HiConversion, shares with Multichannel Merchant how retail businesses can continue their growth while transitioning to a workable business model, including taking advantage of data-driven marketing, investing in new technology and working thoughtfully with customer needs. Learn more in this article: https://multichannelmerchant.com/blog/surviving-the-retail-recovery-tips-as-the-world-reopens/

Get to know Cassidy Taylor, Public Relations Manager

Public relations is all about relationships—the people behind the stories. That’s why we’re offering this blog series all about our team members. This isn’t about our professional accomplishments but who we are as people. We hope you have as much fun reading along as we do interviewing each other.

1. What got you interested in public relations?

Growing up I always had an avid interest in reading and writing. As I got older and began to think about what I wanted to do when I grew up, I knew I wanted to help people. The idea of helping people while utilizing my strengths and passion for reading and writing was extremely enticing. In college, I had the opportunity to intern for a few local newspapers and PR firms and once I started to do PR work, I never looked back. Building the interpersonal connections and relationships with both clients and journalists is something I enjoy almost as much as sinking my teeth into a new writing project. Since graduating college, I have worked with non-profits and associations to help build their brands and share their stories with the world to better reach and help those in need. My work with these non-profits and associations is what fulfills me and drives me to continue my work each day.

2. Tell us about your favorite movie and what appeals most to you about it?

My all time, hands-down favorite movie is Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. While I have always enjoyed the often dark, twisty, and always quirky nature of Tarantino’s work, Pulp Fiction will always be my favorite. As a former film and English student, I have a great appreciation for the story Tarantino put together in this film. The various plots and many hidden Easter eggs make it more enjoyable the more times you watch it. Plus, I will never get tired of watching Uma Thurman do The Twist. 

3. What was the last, best book you read and what about it spoke to you?

The last, best book I read was Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” I read this book for the first time when I was 13. Much like Pulp Fiction, one of the things I love most about “On the Road,” is that the more you read it, the more interesting it becomes because you find more subtleties and hidden meanings. I also quite enjoy the sense of freedom the book brings. In Kerouac’s stream of consciousness story, you are transported to a world of freedom, travel and cross-country adventure. Whenever I get the sense of wanderlust but am unable to travel, I pick up the book and transport myself to Kerouac’s world. 

4. Tell us about a meaningful hobby or “outside of work” commitment that is important to you?

For the past four years, every moment I was not working I have been focused on completing my Master of Arts in Communications with a certificate in Public Relations and Advertising from Villanova University. When I finished my undergraduate degree, I realized there was more I could learn in terms of Communications and decided to continue my education at Villanova. I think it is extremely important to always push yourself to be a better, more informed person and I strive to never stop learning, growing and connecting. Now that I am at the end of this academic journey, I would like to spend more time volunteering to help end hunger and homelessness, two causes I feel strongly about. I will also join my local PRSA organization to continue to have access to resources that will help me grow, learn and connect.

5. Share a fun fact about you.

I am a very avid runner and have been running competitively for my entire life. In my previous job working for a non-profit global association that represented the entire fresh produce and floral supply chain, I ran several 5K road races for our 501c charitable organization dressed as a potato. In one of the races, I came in second place overall and was the first female, and potato, across the finish line.

Get to know James McKinsey, Public Relations Manager

Public relations is all about relationships—the people behind the stories. That’s why we’re offering this blog series all about our team members. This isn’t about our professional accomplishments but who we are as people. We hope you have as much fun reading along as we do interviewing each other.

1. What got you interested in public relations?

When I was in high school, like many teenagers, I wanted to have an impact on the world. Most students would aspire to become doctors, scientists, athletes, builders or other jobs that have a direct effect on society, perceptions and trends. I decided early on to focus on winning hearts and minds for important causes and make a positive impact through dialogue and discussion. In college, and later graduate school, I studied the impact that the media has on shaping public opinion and actions, and since then I have helped nonprofits, municipalities, financial institutions, renewable energy developers and small businesses grow their visibility and advance their missions to positively impact the world.

2. Tell us about your favorite movie and what appeals most to you about it?

I consider myself a nerd, I grew up on Star Wars and love the classic “hero’s journey.” That aside, my favorite movie would have to be Saving Private Ryan. It has everything, fantastic cinematography, great dialogue and an engaging story. A movie that includes Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, and even early-career Vin Diesel and Nathan Fillion is a winner in my book.

3. What was the last, best book you read and what about it spoke to you?

Professionally, I am a fan of Malcom Gladwell’s books and his thoughts on the nature of success. I feel recognizing the natural advantages that some receive combined with the work and dedication that comes with expertise, has helped me better understand how people naturally develop.


Recreationally, The Name of The Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss are fun, non-fiction stories that I enjoyed reading with my fiancé. I am eagerly awaiting the release of The Doors of Stone to complete the series.

4. Tell us about a meaningful hobby or “outside of work” commitment that is important to you?

I grew up in the Boy Scouts, and volunteer work remains an important part of my life. I volunteer regularly with my local animal shelter to help care for the dogs and cats and keep them active. Outside of volunteering, I am and avid hiker in the warmer months and skier in the winter.

5. Share a fun fact about you.

I marched in the New York Saint Patrick’s Day parade with my high school marching band without knowing how to play an instrument.

What We’re Reading and Watching

  • Survey Finds Business Don’t Have Crisis Comms Plans – In a recent survey our VP Rod Hughes found that 67 percent of businesses don’t have a plan in place to deploy communications during a crisis. As he says, things can fall apart pretty quickly in the absence of a plan. Read more to learn about next steps for developing a plan on LinkedIn.
  • Research: Women are Better Leaders During a Crisis – We’ve all read the headlines that countries led by women may be faring better during the COVID-19 pandemic. What does this tell us about what employees need from their leaders during a crisis? Read more at Harvard Business Review.
  • Politics, Polarization and Purpose in 2021 – If there is one thing the public, reporters and PR professionals can agree on, it is that no one agrees on much. These insights from Muck Rack and USC Annenberg shed light on how the U.S. political climate is affecting the media — important insights as we move through 2021. Read more at MuckRack.
  • Reputation Issues in the Insurance Industry – The insurance industry has long battled reputation issues, which have been exacerbated by the recent business interruption controversy. Our agency President Gary Kimball offers insight on the need for a public relations campaign to resolve these issues in this article for PropertyCasualty360.

Clients in the News

In his role as the new chair of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation’s (IICF) International Board of Governors, Hank Watkins, regional director & president of Lloyd’s Americas, provided a forecast for 2021 in diversity and inclusion, as well as the measurable, actionable steps businesses can take to secure a more inclusive future. Read it here at Insurance Journal.

As technology drives innovation in the insurance industry, ReSource Pro’s Andy Niver, senior vice president for Innovation and Analytics, shared his insights with Carrier Management on the state of innovation the industry today and its outlook going forward. He shares practices for utilizing robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technology. Read it here.

In adapting to the business realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, David Wolin’s Old York Cellars has managed to thrive, thanks to several innovations and new business ideas that have turned challenges into opportunities. In this feature article in NJ Biz, Wolin discussed how his small business has managed to excel through new offerings like virtual wine tastings, a new wine club and more. Read it here.

Looking to establish its seat at the table regarding data storage and the continued debate over mainframe versus cloud data storage and management, Israeli-based Model9 CEO Gil Peleg caught the attention of Forbes as he discussed the future-focused hybrid model that marries the best of both technologies for maximum advantage of enterprise computing and management of legacy data. Read it at Forbes.

Get to know Eileen Coyne, Public Relations Director

Public relations is all about relationships—the people behind the stories. That’s why we’re offering this blog series all about our team members. This isn’t about our professional accomplishments but who we are as people. We hope you have as much fun reading along as we do interviewing each other.

1. What got you interested in public relations?

Journalism brought me to public relations. It was back in high school that I discovered that I wanted to be a reporter, when I landed a student work week at the local NBC affiliate. I helped to man the police blotter, cover a hostage standoff, and flew over house fires in a helicopter. I was sold on a career in the news and out of college, I was fortunate to get my start as a reporter in Washington, D.C. As it does for many, journalism introduced me to public relations. Working as a reporter with a story budget to fill, I quickly learned that these PR folks working so hard to get to know me and share their clients’ stories, could be key to a good story. After several years as a reporter, I jumped the fence to PR and haven’t looked back

2. Tell us about your favorite movie and what appeals most to you about it?

I always enjoy The Sound of Music. Unfortunately, now, in a house where Marvel movies and football reign, it’s not the most popular, but I try to watch it when it’s on. I enjoy the beautiful scenery and familiar songs that take me back to grade school. 

3. What was the last, best book you read and what about it spoke to you?

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand stands out to me. It is the remarkable biography of World War II POW and Olympian Louis Zamperini. Recently, I enjoyed sharing the young adult version with my 12-year-old and we talked about his amazing and inspiring stories together. 

4. Tell us about a meaningful hobby or “outside of work” commitment that is important to you?

Outside of work, I am a mother to three school-age boys. I enjoy watching their baseball and basketball games, their many various other endeavors, and organizing functions at their school including trivia nights and the annual Santa shop.

5. Share a fun fact about you.

I played piano at the White House. I won’t say who was in office back then, but let’s just say it was back in high school. It was a wonderful experience to accompany my high school choir during the holidays and something I will never forget.

Reputation is What Others Think You are

An important factor influencing an organization’s reputation is how it is represented in the media. With this in mind, Kimball Hughes PR recently ran an independent survey of business professionals to get their perspective on how media coverage of their organization reflected on their reputation and, ultimately, their brand.

What we found was broad dissatisfaction among respondents with how their brands are perceived and represented through the media.

Among two significant reputational goals — having a regular presence in news media and being clearly differentiated from their competition in those media — a clear majority of those surveyed (more than 60 percent) did not believe these goals were met.

If these findings are any indication, brands hoping to benefit from any post-COVID economic boom have significant work to do in working with the media.

Survey results:

My organization’s reputation, as it is communicated in the media, social media and other public venues, represents our stated mission, vision and values.

  • 9% Strongly agree
  • 45% Agree
  • 18% Neutral
  • 27% Disagree
  • 0% Strongly disagree

Senior leadership is regularly quoted in news and trend stories about our industry.

  • 0% Strongly agree
  • 18% Agree
  • 18% Neutral
  • 27% Disagree
  • 36% Strongly disagree

If I conducted a Google News search today of topics most important to my industry, I would find my organization quoted or written about in recent news from legitimate, third-party business or trade media outlets or sites.

  • 9% Strongly agree
  • 9% Agree
  • 18% Neutral
  • 9% Disagree
  • 54% Strongly disagree

Our brand reputation, as communicated by the media, adequately differentiates our organization from competitors in the markets we serve.

  • 0% Strongly agree
  • 18% Agree
  • 9% Neutral
  • 36% Disagree
  • 36% Strongly disagree

Worried about your brand’s reputation? Contact Kimball Hughes PR for a free, no obligation SWOT Analysis of your brand’s reputation within the media that provides top line, practical and actionable advice on what you can do to make improvements.