Our Meet the Team series features our talented co-pilots at Scratch and their passions, insights, advice and more. We sat down with Kelsey Bates, our talented Account Director of Public Relations to learn more about her appetite for PR, taking risks to find her niche, and how a previous role alongside a vital member of Scratch’s engine led her to her career in B2B tech.
Kelsey also got married this summer and took a cross-country road trip to her new home in Los Angeles with her husband — read more about their adventures in our Q&A with her.
What originally drew you to PR? What engages you to stay with it?
I always knew I wanted a career that involved creativity and writing, but did not discover PR specifically until my COM 101 class at Boston University’s College of Communication. I love PR because it’s always changing — there are constantly new ways to pitch, new reporters on a particular beat, and new trends emerging. The pace of agency life keeps me engaged. The diversity of clients across industries allows me to work on something new every day.
What is your favorite part about working in PR?
Looking for patterns and making connections is my favorite part. Having a pulse on the media conversations around a certain topic allows me to see how our clients can add to the narrative. I like to remember that our job is to bring people together. For example, making an introduction between a reporter on deadline and tech thought leaders with expertise, data, or an interesting perspective to share with readers. Those human connections are what PR is all about.
Can you tell us about your previous experiences at various agencies and what your role(s) were?
In college I wore many different hats in the form of internships to help figure out where I wanted to go with my career. When I studied abroad in London I interned with a beauty and fashion PR agency, but quickly realized I didn’t want to write about lipstick or clothing for the bulk of my career.
So when I graduated, I pivoted to another agency which focused on a whole new ballgame: B2B technology. It was both very challenging and fulfilling to understand the complex technical aspects of cybersecurity clients and to communicate the challenges they help solve in a media-friendly way.
My curiosity also drove me to the advertising industry for a brief time. I focused on project management and worked with creatives in this space, but I missed writing so I decided to come back to PR. I learned that taking a risk to try different things is the best way to find your sweet spot.
What do you find has been the most challenging part about working in PR?
I find that PR is very inclusive, because you don’t necessarily have to have a PR degree to work in our field. But B2B tech PR is harder to break into because you really need to do your homework and have a thorough understanding of technical concepts — a lot of which is self-taught. The ability to intelligently converse with journalists about these complex topics is important because they will see through fluffy, uninformed pitches right away.
What led you to working in B2B tech? What about Scratch?
The challenge of B2B tech is the main reason why I love it! I’m proud of my ability to have thoughtful conversations about in-space propulsion systems, data center cooling innovation, AI-powered health insights that save lives, and the evolving cybersecurity threat landscape.
I was introduced to Scratch through Anya, our Senior Vice President of Public Relations. I actually interned for Anya 7 years ago at a boutique agency in Boston — she’s an incredible mentor and leader, so I knew I’d love working with her again. The PR team embodies the values of constant curiosity and ambition to generate new ideas, pushing beyond expectations. Anya sets this tone for our team, and her energy is contagious. It creates an environment for both our team members and clients to continuously grow.
What is your favorite part of working with Scratch?
Scratch truly has a “one team” mentality. If you have any questions, team members across the company are happy to answer them, or share best practices — anything to help each other succeed. For example, getting a download from our content team about the phase-change science that powers liquid cooling, or syncing up with our marketing team about ways to measure PR performance in Google Analytics. The knowledge-share between our integrated teams allows us to deliver the best possible results for our clients.
Scratch is also a very inclusive environment — every person’s opinions and ideas are valued and appreciated when collaborating together inside and outside of the workplace.
What has your experience been working remotely over the pandemic? How does it affect your productivity, if it does? What are the perks, and what are the challenges?
I’ve actually been working remotely since before the pandemic, so it’s been really interesting to watch the rest of the world adjust to working at home. My husband is in the Navy, so we move every few years to a new duty station for his career. Remote work has allowed me to maintain my own career, too.
Even though I joined Scratch while everyone was working from home, I still feel incredibly connected to the team. Weekly team touchbases, company-wide staff meetings, and informal chats over IM keep us in sync with one another.
A couple months back we hosted a Zoom cocktail party with a professional mixologist – it was so much fun getting to unwind and socialize with all my colleagues, and it helped us all feel more connected even though we were out of the office.
How has it been juggling work-life balance while working remotely?
Having already worked remotely for a while, I was pretty acclimated to working from home. It takes discipline to stay focused, but also awards incredible flexibility. I love having the freedom to take my dog for a walk between meetings, so I can come back feeling recharged. Being able to log on and off as needed is important and creates a better flow between work and life.
What do you enjoy outside of work and why?
Outside of work I love to cook — it’s such a great way to unwind at the end of the day, and I’m always looking for new recipes to try out. I recently moved to LA, so I’m excited to explore the food scene out here! Practically everyone I meet has restaurant recommendations to share, so I have quite the bucket list of places to check out.
Do you have any advice that you can share with someone who is dipping their toes into PR and starting their career out?
The first thing that I recommend for anyone looking into PR is to devour as much content as possible — the more of an expert you are on a topic, product, or industry, the better you can write and pitch to the media. That means pouring through client and competitor websites, industry reports, product demos, sales decks — anything you can get your hands on!
It’s important to always keep a pulse on what’s going on in the media; I like to read the breaking news and latest industry trends every morning. Doing all of this research and investment into your understanding of your clients and their work helps make writing that much easier. So to sum it up: read, read, read.
You just came back from a cross-country trip to your new home! What was your favorite stop on the trip?
Oh wow, it was quite the adventure! Our road trip took us from Virginia through West Virginia, Kentucky, Kansas, Colorado, Utah and Arizona out to California. My favorite stop, without a doubt, was Moab, UT.
We hiked in Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park and were completely blown away by the red rock formations. The temperature was above 100°F during the day, so we timed most of our hikes around sunrise and sunset when the heat was more tolerable. Normally, I would not plan to start my morning at 4 am on vacation…but it was so worth it to see the colors change with the sun.
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