Cindy Coppola, Woman of Distinction 2022
March 29, 2022
Originally published on PRWeek.com on March 29, 2022.
Who was your mentor and what are you now doing to send the elevator back down?
My mentor is Howard Solomon, Founding Managing Partner and Head of West Coast Operations at FINN.
By definition, the word mentor means experienced and trusted advisor. Howard is that for me. But what’s missing in that description is “friend.”
Howard has been my boss for more than 16 years and my friend for the entirety of that time.
He’s helped me grow-up in the everchanging communications world and become a leader. He’s seen me through huge client wins and disheartening client losses.
I know from Howard that it’s possible to learn every day at every level. You’re never too old, too good or too seasoned to do the grunt work. An honest mistake is totally acceptable once in a while — because honesty is valuable, even if it’s not easy. Integrity lives at the core of our profession and it’s what sets us apart from others.
More than all of it, I’ve learned that while humaning is hard and PR is no joke, it’s possible to be truly supported through it all. This is the most important principle I can share with my teams, my younger colleagues and the next generation of talent in our industry.
What is your golden rule at work?
I have a few golden rules!
- Practice empathy while expecting accountability.
- Do the thing you don’t want to do first every day. Then, everything else will be a breeze.
- Write personal but professional emails always. Don’t try to go too hard in any one direction.
- Don’t overcomplicate things. I tell my kids I solve problems for a living and make good things happen for people and things.
- We should remember that, in this field, we are often the lucky ones. I’m deeply grateful to have a career I love.
What are some new challenges you are seeing in the workplace and how do you think they can be overcome? What are some improvements?
Across the industry, we are seeing staffing shortages like never before and the pool of talent, particularly at the junior to mid-level, is smaller than in years past.
While logically we know this is an unfortunate effect of the pandemic, we as PR people are impatient by nature. Our business is booming, our clients’ bottom lines are thriving and we want to solve this big problem quickly.
At FINN, we are creating opportunity from this challenge. We’ve cultivated new programs meant to mine for and educate young, diverse talent at the post-graduate level quickly and with the heavy involvement and collaboration of our senior staff.
Has the pandemic changed your approach to work?
With the pandemic blurring the lines between personal and professional space, the term “always on” has officially become the world’s most unfunny joke.
The biggest way my approach to work has changed during this time is through mastering the art of compartmentalizing.
I have four young daughters. To build a true separation of work and life is a double dare that’s impossible to win.
Pandemic work life has kept me humble. At work, I shape perceptions. I foster positivity. I drive important and influential conversations that have the power to make or break my client’s bottom line. On those same days, I am also told that my spaghetti sucks and the fishtail braid I just worked hard to master doesn’t look like the girl’s hair on YouTube.
For me, it’s important to do the best I can with boundaries I create for myself, relieving me from the pressures of home life and allowing me to connect with my team and clients.
Until office life becomes typical again, I know we’ll all keep doing what we do — using the challenges we’re faced with to sharpen our skills and excel under pressure. Plus, imagine what kind of absolute legends we’ll all be when we can present a new campaign idea without a kid asking if they can have a snack in the background.
What was something that kept you sane during remote work?
In the beginning, the uncertainty of our industry was unsettling at best and terrifying at worst. So, like many, wine, a new home gym and Zoom helped me. Then they became the very things that became tiresome.
Once things leveled out, it really has been the stimulation of work and my Finn family who have kept me sane, smart and settled.
What is your favorite hobby, TV show, song, drink?
I’m a fan of bad reality TV, Dateline and the “OG” Sex and the City, a great barometer of then versus now and a cultural pioneer.
I’m a CrossFitter who can RX a workout once in a while and will complain the whole time.
I’m a pop-culture enthusiast and Britney Spears historian.
My favorite cocktail is an extra spicy margarita, made with Casamigos Tequila or (new Finn client) Mujen Japanese Shochu.
I love the ’90s — specifically ’90s R&B and rap. Not only is Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love” (the remix, of course) my favorite song, but I’m currently lobbying for land lines to be cool again.
If I had my way, I’d exercise my travel bug fully in 2022 and beyond and continue to show my kids more of this wild, beautiful world.