Thirteen years ago, Amanda Mueller came to Cashman + Katz, a relatively small shop, from a larger agency in Boston. Immediately adapting to the change in culture, she began making an impact in every way possible.
In less than 10 years, Mueller reached senior vice president level, heading up the firm's public relations and social media practice. She has since tripled revenue from those services, which now account for 40 percent of the agency's total revenue, up from 20 percent just four years ago.
Mueller's efforts drew attention from New York City and Boston when she led Cashman + Katz to one of its largest-ever client wins, securing BIC North America. No small task, the acquisition of such a high-profile client pushed the small agency deservedly onto the national stage. She has since guided BIC through several community-relations initiatives, publicity campaigns and crisis-management situations, all while maintaining brand loyalty.
In addition to high-profile clients, Mueller also manages public relations activities for several nonprofits and community-service organizations, such as the School Nutrition Association of Connecticut, Goodwill Industries and Lea's Foundation for Leukemia Research in Hartford.
Being able to balance a diverse set of clients with the ever-demanding pace of a growing agency is something Mueller seems to orchestrate flawlessly. Her secret? Knowing her industry's strengths.
"PR has changed and become more complex, but the fundamentals are still the same. It's about relations – with clients, coworkers, the media. Building relationships with all of them," she says. "We're all going a million miles an hour, but you have to step back and make sure everyone's needs are being met. It's amazing work, but if the relationships aren't there, you won't grow the business."
Eric Cavoli, senior vice president and group creative director at Cashman + Katz, says forging those relationships is one of Mueller's greatest strengths.
"She is a great PR practitioner. It's a very difficult industry; it's not nine to five, there isn't a lot of structure," he says. "Her clients know they can call her any time and she'll always respond."
Mueller's high-speed multitasking doesn't stop when she leaves the office. At home, she is a mother to two young daughters who she says are as excited about her work as she is.
"My older daughter especially knows my clients by name, the companies I work with, the names of my coworkers. She is learning that it's important to love and to be passionate about what you do," she says. "That's what I want them to take away."
Mueller believes in not drawing too many lines around the elements of her life.
"People talk about work-life balance, but to me, it's all your life. Everything you do affects everything else," she says. "I have those relationships with my clients – they ask about my kids, my kids ask about them."
Cavoli says it's not uncommon to find Mueller at a client meeting in New York City during the day and at a school chorus concert in the evening.
"What she does isn't something that millions of working moms do all the time, but she has mastered it. She's gotten it down to a really great process," he says. "And, she juggles it all with a positive outlook. Her attitude and personality are outstanding."
Mueller is quick to credit those around her as being instrumental in her achievements at home and at work.
"A lot is possible due to my coworkers; we work together to achieve success," she says. "My husband is also a key piece; we have a strong partnership to keep things running at home."
These past two years, Mueller had the added challenge of her father's cancer diagnosis, which led to her managing his care and treatment regimen as well as liaising with his care team.
Thankfully they weathered the storm, and Mueller says the experience has stayed with her.
"Through these experiences I'm always learning and evolving," she says. "My dad's illness grounded me. You can have success, but you still need to have your health."
Cavoli added, "Ours is a tough business with deadlines and plenty of up and down days. Add to that working another full responsibility at home. To do all of that and still be cheerful, and a positive force in the office?" he says. "To me [Mueller is] simply remarkable."
Maintaining business success:
I truly believe that building positive relationships is vital for career success. My clients, my co-workers — everyone that I do business with on some level, I make it a priority to build and maintain a strong relationship with each and every one of them.
Maintaining work-life balance:
For me, the notion of work-life balance is somewhat flawed. It implies that the two exist separately, and from my perspective, I prefer to think of things as integrated. I bring my whole self to everything I do — whether I'm presenting at a meeting, or talking to my daughter's class. I make sure that every piece of my life is integrated — my clients not only know what my daughter's favorite TV show is — and my 10 year old will often ask me at dinner how my meeting went, or how a campaign was doing.
Keeping a competitive edge:
In my world, things are moving at such a fast pace. Public relations, social media, communications — it is constantly changing. So to that end, I try to remain humble and ask a lot of questions. I am comfortable knowing that I don't always have an answer for everything, and know that I must constantly evolve in order to become a better practitioner.