11 Feb Meet Anna Bolender
Let’s give a warm welcome to Anna Bolender, our newest GraviTeam member! With an extensive background in building PR programs and executing media strategies for emerging technology companies, we are thrilled to have Anna on our team as an Account Supervisor! We had the opportunity to learn a bit more about Anna and her journey to Gravitate through a few introductory questions. Let’s take a look at what she had to say:
How did you get into PR?
I initially started in a marketing role at the SaaS company Badger Maps. At that time, they didn’t have a PR team and as I was working on sales and marketing initiatives, I realized that it might be beneficial to start some PR campaigns and leverage media opportunities to get more traction and establish the company’s CEO as a thought leader in their industry.
So I started their PR department and built out the program from scratch. While it was mainly learning by doing since I didn’t have much expertise in PR at the time and couldn’t rely on another PR person on the team, it was also a lot of fun diving into it – contacting journalists, building relationships, leveraging various channels such as podcasts, and learning about different publications. I even launched their own internal podcast “Outside Sales Talk”, which was one of my favorite projects. I quickly realized that I enjoyed doing the tasks involved in PR and after a few years at Badger Maps, I went on to work at a PR agency where I was able to learn from some amazing PR professionals and further hone my skills.
What made PR so interesting?
There are two main aspects that make PR interesting for me. The first one is storytelling – I love thinking about how we can craft and tell a company’s story in a way that resonates with people and also fits in with current trends and topics discussed in the media. It’s fun to think about how you can stand out with your story and make it unique, which is especially important nowadays, where there are so many amazing companies out there sharing their story.
The second aspect is the focus on building relationships – I’m someone who enjoys interacting and engaging with people, whether it’s in person, or over email, phone, or social media. I like speaking with and building relationships with reporters, influencers, or podcast hosts in various industries, and also collaborating with my internal team members which is just as essential in PR. It’s all about creating win-win situations and providing value for the people you work and collaborate with, whether that’s a journalist, event organizer, podcaster, or client.
How have you enjoyed PR so far?
I’ve enjoyed it a lot! I especially like thinking about different PR strategies and learning about the evolving media landscape – it’s very fascinating and has changed so much over the last years. It’s no longer just about media relations, but about taking a holistic approach and leveraging the channels and outlets that make the most sense for a particular company and their unique story – that can be a well-read newsletter, podcast, bloggers, or influencers in their space. The reason I love podcasts and keep mentioning them is because they allow for more in-depth and personal conversations where the hosts and guests can truly connect with the listener and engage them on a deeper level. Overall, I enjoy all the different facets and the variety PR has to offer and am excited to see how the industry will continue to evolve in the coming years.
What has been the hardest part?
Breaking through the noise. There are so many people and companies out there that have interesting stories and news to share, which often makes it hard to stand out and get your own story heard. I believe there are six PR people for every reporter – not a good ratio – and there is only so much they can cover.
The same is true when it comes to getting in front of your target audience. Even if you get that feature in a popular publication, how do you know and ensure the article actually reaches your ideal audience to ultimately make an impact? As much as media professionals are getting swamped with pitches every day, people are also getting overwhelmed with a ton of content, which makes it hard to get their attention or even actively engage them with your content.
What are some things you want to learn?
I’m excited to learn more about business development and get involved in bringing on new clients to the agency. I’ve already been able to do so in my first couple of months here, which is amazing.
I’m thrilled to be a part of the Gravitate team and look forward to helping grow the team and overall business, build a positive culture, continue to provide value for our clients, and learn and grow throughout this entire journey.
Is there any particular topic or technology that you want to explore more?
I’m working with some companies in retail and HR tech and have really enjoyed learning more about these industries. E-commerce and HR tech are highly relevant right now as online shopping has taken off since the start of the pandemic and remote work is a hot topic in HR. I’m excited to dive deeper into these areas and topics such as inclusivity and diversity in hiring.
What are some hobbies or activities that you like?
I love to dance! I started training and competing in Rhythmic Gymnastics when I was seven years old, then did cheerleading and other types of dance throughout college. When I moved to San Francisco, I found an amazing dance studio where I’ve been taking classes in hip hop, contemporary, ballet, jazz, and all kinds of styles for the last few years. I also teach a cardio dance class every week, currently over Zoom.
I also enjoy various outdoor activities such as hiking and running, especially along the beach here. That’s become my new hobby since the pandemic and has definitely helped keep me sane. I also like wakeboarding in the summer and go skiing and snowboarding in the winter with family and friends. Generally, I love being outdoors and active whenever I can, and luckily the Bay Area and California are the perfect place for that.
Favorite movie, book, or song/music genre?
I listen to everything from pop to classical music, so it’s hard to pick one song. I would say John Legend is one of my favorite songwriters and I keep going back to his amazing albums.
In terms of books, I generally like biographies from fascinating people (loved Michelle Obama’s book Becoming for example) and mainly read non-fiction. I’ve been enjoying Sapiens and Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari and am currently reading his latest book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. I also loved Untamed by Glennon Doyle and have recommended it to all my friends.
What was your most memorable moment?
My first time visiting the U.S. and San Francisco in 2012. I did all the touristy things you can possibly do and walked across the entire city to explore the different neighborhoods. I remember that everyone was so open and friendly and I instantly fell in love with the city and its unique charm and diversity. I was still studying in Germany at that time, but knew that I wanted to live and work in San Francisco in the near future.
What is your ideal place to travel?
It’s hard to choose because I love the mountains as much as the ocean and beaches! When I travel, I generally want to be active, so I love places where I am able to do things like hiking, snorkeling, biking, skiing, or just exploring a new city. I usually go on one big trip to a new place every year and the next destinations on my list are Australia and New Zealand.
What’s your favorite food?
Sushi is my favorite, but pasta is a close second.
If people are not on time. I’m usually rather early and don’t like waiting for people – that must be the German genes!
What’s a fun fact about you?
I am a professional dancer on the side and signed with a talent agency here in San Francisco. I’ve performed at various corporate events and shows across the Bay Area and absolutely love it. Last year, I danced at many holiday parties from tech companies like Google and Apple.