Written by The Business Journal Staff
Holly Carter, Owner
Carter & Co. Communications
What we do: Carter & Co. Communications is a strategic communications firm that provides services such as brand development, community outreach, crisis communications, reputation management, lobbying, and campaign management. What separates us from typical branding agencies is our ability to tell the clients story in a way that puts them front and center in the eyes and minds of their target audience using a variety of non-traditional tactics. Our clients range from manufacturers, engineering firms, high end transportation companies, environmental contractors, service companies, physicians, restaurants, and developers. We also manage political campaigns for both initiatives and candidates. Our business model allows for us to provide services to multinational corporations as well as locally owned small businesses.
Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, California State University, Fresno
Family: Two grown children, Tess and Christian, two daughters at home, Hannah and Hope.
You had quite a diverse career path. Tell us a little about what lead you to found Carter & Co. Communications, Holly.
Like a number of your readers, I have always had a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit and a lot of drive. I started a boutique real estate firm in Visalia, Ca in 1993. My goal was to create a real estate brokerage that would thrive during a housing recession, which we were experiencing at the time. By the end of 1994, we had 110 active listings and annual sales in excess of $13million.
I transitioned into working for larger organizations to hone my business skills. I was an executive for MCI Corporations in the Commercial Sales Division. I developed an innovative strategy to gain market share that leveraged strategic partnerships with educational leaders in the San Joaquin Valley. The result was the adoption of leading edge virtual classrooms in Kern, Kings, Tulare and Fresno counties.
I was recruited to the position of Executive Director for the Republican Party of Fresno County where I campaigned for the successful election of seven candidates and several propositions
Passantino Andersen, an award winning communications firm from Southern California, later recruited me to be their Managing Director for the Central Valley. My primary focus was to facilitate business expansion through the engagement of local governments, community leaders and political organizations. My most rewarding accomplishment was gaining approval for the construction of a Walmart Superstore in Clovis, Ca. This project had been denied approval for over seven years prior to my involvement.
While working for Passantino Anderson I was approached for public affairs services by a number of small to medium sized companies. Frankly, the retainer required by my employer was too significant for these growing businesses, so the opportunity presented itself to start my own firm. There was an unfilled niche in the marketplace. I founded Carter & Co. to provide branding development as well as public affairs services to this unserved market. Our value proposition is providing high quality results for a fraction of the cost of an in house staff and significantly less than that of a high overhead agency like Passantino Anderson.
What is the most exciting part of your job, Holly?
I get to experience so many different industries and personalities. I may be working with developers who want to build a 5,500 home community in the morning, and then branding a multimillion dollar metal building manufacturer in the afternoon. My job is never boring.
What is the most challenging part of your job, Holly?
While my methods and tactics are well developed and effective, the creative process is its own beast. Early in the business, it was difficult to articulate the value proposition. It is not uncommon that we are the first communications organization that a business owner has engaged.
From your time as director of the Fresno County Republican Party, how would you sum up the current political situation in the Central Valley, Sacramento, and Washington, D.C., Holly?
That is a great question. Locally, our elected officials are really telling our story both locally and beyond. Obviously, we continue to struggle as a region with regard to fair representation of the needs of the Central Valley. Water, clean air, vocational training and business investment are just a few of the core societal needs our elected officials continue to fight for in Sacramento and D.C. Our ability to influence legislation that is effective for the Central Valley is difficult but I am optimistic that we are on the right track.
What is the most important piece of advice you can offer a client when it comes to communicating with the public, Holly?
Be known. Everyone loves a good story.
What is the best piece of advice that you ever received, Holly?
“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different,” It really resonates with the work I do for our clients.
What was your first job and what did you learn from it, Holly?
My first job was modeling for a clothing boutique in 5th grade. I learned the significance of advertising.
What are your roots in the Central Valley, Holly?
I was born in Tucson, Arizona and traveled across the Country moving every 2 years while growing up. I graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelors Degree in Communications from Fresno State and have been here ever since.
What do you do in your spare time, Holly?
I currently spend one day each month learning about agricultural related businesses as a member of the FAACT Class with the Fresno Farm Bureau. I also spend time growing my non-profit organization called, “The Face of Cancer” which helps reunite women with their sense of beauty and femininity during and after an aggressive battle with cancer. As a single mom, I stay very busy with my two younger daughters still at home. I attend the Well Community church and I love fashion, music and running.