Behind the Headlines With Erica Archambault McCabe
PR isn’t just about selling a product. It’s also about effecting change, promoting stories and making a difference in the world.
Erica Archambault McCabe, executive vice president of PR agency Current, enjoys being a part of marketing campaigns that have value. Here, she talks about her beginnings in the world of social work, launching the Gap (PRODUCT) RED campaign and her two words of advice for those just starting out.
How did you get your start in PR?
It was quite serendipitous actually. I was a psychology major in college with big ambitions and high hopes of “saving the world.” I joined the AmeriCorps program and served as a counselor at a homeless shelter for abused women and their children.
I realized very quickly that I didn’t have the ability to separate emotionally from the people or the work and that a career in direct human service would be too difficult for me.
One of the women who volunteered at the shelter worked at a PR agency and convinced me that I would love the PR agency environment and work – and she was right. After I completed my AmeriCorps year, I went to work with her at Ketchum and have worked in public relations ever since.
What do you hope to accomplish in your new role as executive vice president of Current?
I hope to continue to help strengthen and grow our relationship with the Clorox Company, put the ideals of our new proprietary Realistics approach into action and have the opportunity to bring in new, exciting clients.
What has been the proudest moment of your career?
Launching Gap (PRODUCT) RED – it was a transformative experience to help create a whole new way to view product, marketing and business. (PRODUCT) RED created a unique opportunity to bring attention to the epidemics facing Africa and inspire millions of Americans to join in the effort to stop them.
Within the first year, contributions from Gap (PRODUCT) RED helped cover the annual cost of AIDS treatments for more than 25,000 women and children in Africa. It was an incredible gift to be a part of something so powerful.
Do you have any daily rituals that keep you going?
Yoga and red wine (but not necessarily in that order).
What do you do when you’re not at work?
I’m a mother to three beautiful (and often badly behaved) children so that takes up most of my “free” time. And it’s also the reason I need yoga and red wine more than ever these days.
What is your favorite social media platform and why?
Instagram – the world in pictures is a beautiful thing.
Do you have any advice for those looking to begin a career in PR?
Rapid Fire Round
1. I always thought I’d be…a social worker.
2. The most interesting fact about me is…I have won the lifetime achievement award twice. Sharks have a week dedicated to me. I can speak Russian…in French. Once a rattlesnake bit me. After five days of excruciating pain, the snake finally died. (Okay, I admit it. I couldn’t think of anything very interesting so I decided to steal lines from the most interesting man in the world).
3. My daily newspaper of choice is…The New York Times.
4. My guilty pleasure is…watching bad reality TV (I’m too ashamed to give specifics).
5. My most prized possession is…my family and friends.
6. The characteristic I most dislike in people is…ingratitude.
7. The thing that gets me up in the morning is…one or more kids and always earlier than I’d like.
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