The team at Bolt PR continues to celebrate our milestone anniversary, so we asked our agency founder and president, Caroline Callaway, to reflect on the last 10 years and where she sees the agency headed over the next decade.
At the time, I didn’t have a specific intention of building an agency. I wanted to bring my big agency and corporate experience and connections to help small businesses and start-ups. I brought on my first couple of clients and did everything as a one-woman show. I pulled media lists, coordinated interviews, developed strategies, planned events and supported on-site at various activities. For one restaurant client, I even helped wash dishes and wipe tables at an event we were hosting! Then, as word of mouth picked up and I signed more clients, I recognized I needed a team. With hiring team members came bringing on a payroll company, creating a website, moving into an office, and setting up real infrastructure. The rest continued to build, and 10 years later, we have come a very long way.
Each office opening is a huge achievement because we open offices around people and great markets, so when both line up and the timing is right, it’s a huge achievement. From our starting point as a single office in Orange County, California, we have expanded to add offices in Raleigh, North Carolina; Dallas, Texas; and Boston, Massachusetts.
I’m also very proud of so much of the coverage we’ve secured and the impact we’ve made on behalf of clients. Over the course of the agency’s ten years, Bolt PR has helped a nonprofit raise enough funds to break ground on a development project a full year ahead of schedule; we helped a computer app reach two million active users in its first year; we launched a social campaign on behalf of a client that resulted in appearances on nearly every major talk show, morning show, and major news outlet; we helped an event sell out in 15 minutes; and we helped a single restaurateur grow from one restaurant to a national franchise brand in just four years. And those are just a few examples.
Keeping the focus on people. This business is all about relationships, with team members and clients, and you’ve got to work with the right people. I always tell prospective team members and clients that a good fit is the key to our successful partnership. That’s why when we interview prospective team members we discuss not just the daily responsibilities of the role but also the agency’s culture and the individual’s career aspirations. That’s why we strive to really understand our clients’ values and overall business objectives. Whether as team members or as business partners, we have to be aligned on the big goals so we can work together to get there.
Surround yourself with people who are different from you. This doesn’t refer to just background, gender or interests; this refers to how people think, how they approach problems and how they react to different situations. As a team, we are all working toward the same goal, but if we take different approaches and follow different paths to get there, we learn from each other along the way and the end result is even better than we could have imagined individually.
When I see employees grow and move up within Bolt PR, that’s so rewarding to me. They’re learning, they’re growing professionally and they’re still just as passionate as they were when they first stepped foot in our offices. I’m also really motivated by the outpouring of love from clients and team members. When clients go out of their way to reach out to thank me for the impact our team has made on their business, that is so fulfilling. The biggest motivator of all: I recently had one team member’s mom send me a handwritten note about the impact I’ve made on her daughter’s life. I don’t think anything could ever top that; it meant the absolute world to me and I will treasure the note forever.
We have a very specific goal at Bolt PR of #7by2027. That’s seven offices open around the country by 2027. It’s an ambitious goal, but one that our entire team is working hard to achieve. I also see us continuing to listen to market needs and evolving our practices to best meet those demands. At the end of the day, we’re here to help our clients grow their businesses, make a real impact with the work we do and have a ton of fun doing it.
Real estate agent. I swear I could look at houses all day and night! Plus, I love interacting with people. I think it would be so fulfilling to help a family find their dream home.