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Friday, February 16, 2007

Abbe Buck and HighViz Consulting Group

By Carrie Smoot, Washington Woman Magazine

Ask publicist Abbe Buck why she went into public relations, and, laughing, she gives a surprising answer. “All my life I’ve wanted to go into show business. I grew up in Chicago watching ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ and singing in front of the TV.” She inherited her parents’ love for the music of Glenn Miller, Gene Krupa, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman and others. Buck also admires Rosemary Clooney, Nelson Riddle and Johnny Mercer. “We need to keep this music alive,” she says. Fifteen years ago she recorded “Big Band Swing and Saloon Style: Songs from a Bygone Era,” available from Amazon.com.

Although arts advocacy, the entertainment industry and singing remain passions, Buck launched the Northern Virginia-based HighViz Consulting Group six years ago, a project company and full-service boutique public relations firm. The name reflects her belief that clients deserve high visibility. A news junkie, she embraces technology—including streaming media, webcasting, podcasting and wireless. Clients can use it, she says, to reach more people than print media alone, such as press releases and direct mail. HighViz uses case studies to coach organizations about communications strategy. She writes two PR blogs that instruct clients. She uses two cell phones but draws the line at a BlackBerry. “If I had one, I’d never stop. Finally, I have it right—it’s important to have daily family time and ‘Abbe time.’ I had a bad case of burnout—I was such a perfectionist that I ended up redoing things. You want to be available and accessible, [but] 24/7 is impossible.”

Family includes her husband, 16-year-old son and two dogs—a gray shepherd and a mixed breed. “My husband is a Republican and I’m a Democrat, she jokes. “Our gift to our son is differing viewpoints. Then he can decide his beliefs for himself.” Her son accompanied her to client meetings and conferences during summer break, continuing a family tradition. Buck’s father insisted she work in his car dealership in high school. “Do it, or I won’t help you through college,” he said. Buck recalls how he treated others with professionalism and respect, and how he got the same in return. “It was a great lesson in learning to deal with people.”

Buck specializes in nonprofits, small businesses and high tech and federal sectors. Her professional background includes McGraw-Hill publishing, Lotus-IBM and the federal government. She strongly believes in increasing employment for Native Americans on reservations. “I always felt drawn to Native American issues and culture,” she says. She recommends www.Indianz.com to learn more. “Customer service is one area where they can make a difference, and jobs can remain in the United States this way.

HighViz works with Native American HUBZones—“Historically Underutilized Business Zones” to help them position themselves, partner and compete in the federal marketplace.” Buck is also reaching out to disabled veterans interested in entrepreneurship. “I fell into federal employment by accident,” she says. “[It] is often seen as stodgy and buttoned-down. Once you get used to the system, it’s interesting. They think out of the box.”

Candee Wilson, new media director for EEI Communications in Alexandria, VA, agrees. “The federal government is easy to deal with in many respects,” she says. “Workers are knowledgeable and eager to expand their services.” Wilson worked with HighViz Consulting to increase their federal government outreach. “We were interested in improving overall business and sales, refining and targeting customers and discovering new business. The ways you can make a Web site work for you are amazing.” Wilson admires Buck’s creativity and talent for getting people to talk. “Abbe introduced herself and tossed out ideas. Everyone warmed to that and began contributing. Soon, the meeting was very lively, and we achieved good results.”

“PR is not just something companies should engage in when they’re in trouble,” Buck says. “Communication is an art and an ongoing process. Company leaders and staff have great ideas, but they often won’t do anything with them.”

HighViz has a ‘24-hour PR challenge’ for them: “Put your thoughts, plans and resources on paper in detail. In 24 hours, we’ll come up with a workable strategy.” Clients are captivated by Buck’s energy, warmth, humor and enthusiasm. “You’ve got to be fast to keep up with me,” she admits, describing herself with a chuckle as part Tasmanian Devil, like the cartoon character, and part whirling dervish. She drives a green Jaguar X-type and is fond of wearing black outfits from Land’s End or Nordstrom accented by colorful scarves, wraps and jewelry. Motivational speaker and customer service consultant David K. Aaker, president of Aaker & Associates http://www.davidkaaker.com/, is one of HighViz Consulting Group’s West Coast clients. He relies heavily on Buck’s firm to promote him widely in the eastern United States.

“What impresses me most about Abbe is that she’s very focused, driven, detail-oriented and thorough,” Aaker says, noting that she has five or six broad-based projects on her plate at once. “She listens, asking the right questions about what should be promoted and how to go about it, setting goals and demonstrating good follow-through. Sometimes, a strategy that wouldn’t work several months ago will work fine today. Flexibility is key, and she’s very open and receptive to change.”

Like so many others, Aaker responds to Buck’s outgoing personality. “She shares so much of herself with other people, and that makes people feel welcome, which makes communication a lot easier.” The Palm Springs, CA entrepreneur shares Buck’s passion for increasing talents and skills of Native American workers and business owners—many are his clients. “Yes, some are involved with the casino industry, but there’s so much more,” Aaker says. “On the reservation, many people work in hospitals, schools, offices, stores, service businesses and so on. It’s the same economic infrastructure you would see anywhere. We have barely scratched the surface of their potential.”

Through HighViz Consulting, companies and entrepreneurs will reach their potential.

HighVizPR on the web:


Carrie Smoot is a Northern Virginia freelance writer.

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1 comment:

Abbe Buck, Publicist / Public Affairs / Needs Analysis said...

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