By: Tom Herring, Katie Forbidussi, Interns
The interns at French/West/Vaughan recently had the opportunity to sit down with the agency’s Chief Operating Officer, Natalie Best, and learn more about her background and success story. This was a great experience for the interns to be able to learn from one of the top professionals in the public relations industry. From her beginnings at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to working for the NBA in New York, the interns got a glimpse into Natalie’s career journey and how she got to where she is today.
Her journey started in Chapel Hill, North Carolina where she developed a deep interest in the sports industry and communications. Upon graduating, Natalie assumed PR roles with the Charlotte Hornets and the NBA in its New York headquarters. Curiosity eventually drove the current COO to French/West/Vaughan, where she has played an integral role in the agency’s growth and development. According to Natalie, reinvention and adaptability are essential to success. “Read, stay up-to-date with trends and don’t stop learning,” said Natalie. “A knowledgeable open-mind will not only build trust with clients, but it will advance your careers and take you a long way in life.”
After spending some time to meet and converse with French West Vaughan’s Chief Operating Officer Natalie Best, the interns got a glimpse into her ever changing world. What does the COO of one of the nation’s largest independently owned PR and marketing agencies do day-to-day? With the size of the agency and diverse array of assets, FWV is able to offer social, digital, creative, PR services as a one-stop-shop for clients. This is something Natalie believes initially gave FWV that edge over competing agencies. FWV was quick to adopt social strategies for clients, building cases and experience to bring to new clients. That is something that keeps Natalie on her toes — the industry is always changing, and part of her job is to anticipate change and have the most pressing PR or client issues handled above others. Natalie also spoke on the perks of FWV remaining an independently owned agency here in North Carolina. She enjoys the luxury of being able to pick and choose clients to a degree, not report to a board of investors and to cultivate a culture that is unique to one agency.
As an undergrad, Natalie studied at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Media and Journalism. There is a good chance that Carolina Basketball may have influenced her desire to work in sports during and after college. In fact, one of her many internships during her undergrad was with the NBA’s Orlando Magic. She would then go on to work in communications and then PR for the NBA’s League Office and Charlotte Hornets, respectively.
But, after Natalie’s brief stint with sports PR in New York and in Charlotte, she was looking for a way to diversify her skill set and work with new clients in new industries. Natalie was able to make the jump into agency life and joined French West Vaughan in 2002. It is here where she would climb the ranks into her present-day title as Chief Operating Officer. One of the biggest takeaways from meeting Natalie was that she wasn’t given anything in her career path. She believes that the only way she was able to work for the NBA and professional sports teams then become COO of an agency was to simply out work everybody else. She believed that nobody is really multitudes smarter than the next, so what else is there to separate one from the rest? It was hard work and that is what drives her unparalleled success.
Natalie’s story of hard work and determination was a major inspiration for the FWV interns. Anything is achievable with hard work and focus, and Natalie is a testament to this. Whether it be for public relations or Tar Heel basketball, Natalie’s passion and dedication have been driving forces for her throughout her life. When asked what their favorite part about meeting with Natalie was, a common theme among the interns was that she is very inspiring, and that it was evident how much of a hard worker she is.
It’s definitely a unique opportunity to be able to sit down with the COO of such a successful agency. Being able to talk to Natalie and learn more about her background was an invaluable experience for the interns, both for personal and professional development. The FWV interns were able to gain insight both into Natalie’s career journey but also into the inner workings of an agency straight from an executive. Learning from one of the best (no pun intended) experts in the industry gave the interns some great lessons to take with them moving forward in their careers.