Faces of PRSA Philly: The Canary edition

This article was originally posted on PRSA Philly as part of its occasional “Faces of PRSA Philly” series.

As a public relations associate with Canary Promotion,Carolyn Huckabay knows she’s doing something right when she is on the bus and hears total strangers talking about her clients’ work.

Canary Promotion is a Philadelphia boutique communications and marketing firm serving arts, culture and mission-driven organizations. In a city bursting with creative energy, Huckabay sees her job responsibility as not only to make sure seats get filled, but also to make sure stories get heard – and have a long-lasting impact. PRSA_Philly_huckabay-1-crop

Before coming to Canary, Huckabay was the arts editor at the Philadelphia City Paper. She directed the alt-weekly’s coverage of all things cultural in the City of Brotherly Love, from dance and theater performances to visual arts, film, book readings, and burlesque. She also was the company’s chief copy editor. “I got to read the paper for a living,” Huckabay said.

After working in journalism for more than eight years, she decided to shift from journalism to public relations and take on a completely new challenge. Luckily, working for Canary allowed her to transfer and keep growing in her knowledge of Philadelphia’s remarkable cultural community. “I covered the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe for years at the City Paper,” Huckabay said. “So promoting the festivals felt like second nature.”

Because she worked on “the other side” for so long, Huckabay brings a keen understanding of what gets editors’ attention — and what’s just plain annoying. “Word to the wise: don’t send a 10MB image attachment in an email unless someone requests it,” she said. “Newsrooms aren’t known for having the newest computers with the most storage.”

A large part of Huckabay’s role at Canary is creating visibility for its clients’ myriad and extraordinary work, from music festivals and contemporary dance performances to behemoth public art installations on the Ben Franklin Parkway. Between writing compelling mission statements to developing meaningful partnerships, Huckabay is there to keep her clients in the forefront of the public’s collective memory.

Besides working with a team of talented, dedicated, joyful, professional people who love Philadelphia and the arts as much as she does, Huckabay’s favorite thing about working at Canary is playing a part in some of the region’s most innovative cultural initiatives, like the Knight Arts Challenge.

“I particularly love helping small nonprofits get their voice heard in a big way,” she said. “I love being part of the direct correlation between effective communication and long-term vitality. When our clients succeed, we succeed, too.”

Q&A with Carolyn Huckabay

Where do you get your news first?

I’m one of the proud 20 people on earth still using GoogleReader, so I dutifully check my favorite blogs every morning: Philebrity, Phawker, Meal Ticket, Hidden City, Curbed, Uwishunu, and The ArtBlog, among others. Out of habit, I still read the City Paper cover to cover.

As a copyeditor at heart, what are your pet peeves?

Where do I start? I mourn misplaced apostrophes. I despise dangling modifiers. I think the word “myself” should be banned because no one knows how to use it. I hate (but secretly love) when people say, “It’s a doggy dog world.” (Instead of going on all day, I’ll just share a link to my very-occasional Canary blog series on this vastly fascinating topic.)

What are you currently reading?

I recently made a deal with my fiancé, writer/editor/cyclist-about-town Brian Howard, in order to persuade him to accompany me to Harry Potter World, I must actually read the books. After that, I’ll get back to my latest Haruki Murakami challenge: actually finishing 1Q84.

Outside of PR what do you enjoy doing?

I’m an advocate of cuddling with tabby cats, baking, watching entire TV series on Netflix in extraordinarily short amounts of time (looking at you, Gossip Girl), keeping up with Philly’s insane food scene and getting involved with my neighborhood. I’m on the South Philly Food Co-op’s marketing and communications committee, so when I’m not advocating for my clients’ work, I’m bugging my friends and neighbors to join the Co-op. If you’re reading this and you live in South Philly, join the Co-op!

What advice can you offer young professionals pursuing PR?

Be a Jack (or Jill) of all trades. At Canary, we proudly wear multiple hats to satisfy our clients’ diverse needs, from crafting compelling messaging and marketing language to executing wide-ranging media relations campaigns. If you can do it all — and do it well — your clients will reap the benefits.

By Rachel Olenick, member of the PRSA Philly News Committee