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.