One year ago this week is when most of us learned a significant shift in our daily lives was imminent. Businesses were shutting down. Schools closed. Panic shopping began and fear was palpable – but at NST, we were experiencing another significant milestone.
Myself, Mary Correia-Moreno and Price Adams acquired the firm on Friday, March 13, the same day a national state of emergency due to COVID-19 was declared. The timing could have been better. We held the news of the acquisition close to the vest, putting aside the celebratory plans we had in place as the world came to grips with the once-in-a-lifetime crisis. Today, one year later with science inspiring optimism about the future and a year of success under our belts, we reflect on the last year – and there’s much to be proud of.
- We hunkered down as a team: The pandemic was a collective reminder of what’s most important: friends, family, people and, of course, good health. Employee well-being took center stage, and we never lost focus on the importance of the people behind NST. We took care of our team – who used grit and agility to adapt to new ways of living and working – and despite challenging times they took care of us and our clients. For that, we’re eternally grateful.
- We grew our bench strength: NST welcomed four new team members in 2020, including two during the pandemic, Melissa Rue and Krista Smith. With more than 20 years of PR experience under her belt and as a former agency owner, Melissa’s knowledge and expertise has already proven to be an invaluable asset on account work and internal mentorship and learning. Krista, with roots in agriculture, adds to NST’s food and ag practice and brings a unique attribute to NST: she is the granddaughter-in-law to Bob Smith, who helped establish strategy as the backbone of NST as an agency founder; a tradition Krista also embodies in her work on behalf of client partners.
- We added new client partners: While we’re proud to still serve the agency’s first client (Dairy Council of California), we have also added more than a dozen new partners to those we serve during the last year, including EōS Fitness, the Downtown San Diego Partnership, The Conrad Prebys Foundation and Ocean Mist Farms.
- We practiced what we preached: In early 2021, the NST annual retreat went virtual and birthed something big – a new strategic plan to drive the agency forward. While the cobbler’s children can often have no shoes, during the last year we put our strategic planning expertise to work on ourselves and established a plan focused on bringing our vision of redefining PR to life. Focused on three priorities – people, partners and promotion – the plan takes aim on ensuring the team has the skills, training and resources it needs; providing value to our client partners by living our values; and telling the story of NST.
- We did meaningful work: While the ownership structure is new, NST has been making a positive impact for our clients and communities for more than four decades, and that continued in 2020 and 2021. From helping organizations uncover their purpose and values to guiding them as they navigated tough issues regarding racial inequality, NST’s work helped our clients make a difference and make their mark on the world. We all learned some lessons along the way.
There’s no doubt 2020 challenged and changed us all and while the path has, at times, been taxing, the reward has been great. Thank you to all our team members, client partners and agency friends who helped us do what we do.