December 4, 2013
Terri Hines is vice president of global public relations and communications at Converse, Inc. She leads integrated global communications strategy including brand, entertainment, corporate, crisis, internal and philanthropy for the Converse brand portfolio worldwide. Converse footwear, apparel and accessories are available in 160 countries and include the top-selling shoe of all time, the iconic Chuck Taylor.
Hines, who lives in Manhattan, brings more than 20 years of brand marketing, global communications, and corporate responsibility experience to the Converse brand.
Previously, Hines was director of communications at Nike’s Jordan Brand for four years. She has also worked in marketing and communications for major organizations like Nissan North America, Eastman Kodak and Volkswagen of America.
A native of Washington D.C., Hines earned a master’s in communications from American University and a bachelor’s in business administration from Florida A&M University. She is on the advisory board for the Reed For Hope Foundation and is an avid writer, aspiring author, world traveler, fitness enthusiast, and lover of sports and fashion.
Why did you decide to go into communications? Was it always an interest?
I started my career in marketing for Volkswagen of America, which was a perfect fit in cultivating my creative spirit and it was fun working on innovative, integrated campaigns.
I gained a mentor, who led regional and government affairs communications, and was a longtime PR veteran. With a natural interest in news and media, I became fascinated by my mentor’s work, shadowed him for a time and then, surprisingly he resigned. His boss, who was the vice president of global communications, met me during a brief 15-minute meeting and decided to take a chance on me.
At the time, I had only brand marketing and sales experience. Communications came to me by instinct. He offered me my mentor’s former role. The rest is history.
How did you begin working for Converse?
I started my career at Nike as the director of communications for the Jordan Brand. After four successful and incredibly fulfilling years at Jordan, the opportunity for the global communications leadership role at Converse opened up, and I was offered the role.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned about PR in the past 20 years?
The field of communications is ever evolving. I remain in a state of learning — from my team, culture and environment. If you close the door to learning, then you’ve lost the ability to be successful.
The most important lessons I’ve found are staying on top of trends and culture; keeping pace with the consumer; and for communications professionals specifically, meeting journalists’ deadlines. These are absolute musts to be successful.
What is your job like on a day-to-day basis?
No day is the same. That’s the fun, adventure and challenge to this role. One day might look like this: meeting with my team to discuss communications strategy for a major global brand initiative, managing a corporate crisis overseas, traveling to Hong Kong (or some global media market) to learn about the market, supporting a global press launch or present communications strategy to a new country team. Yes, that can all happen in a day.
What challenges do you face in your job as a communicator?
The challenges we face as communicators are being able to stay current and informed of new media trends within the ever-changing digital media landscape.
As the industry shifts away from the traditional formats and tactics, it’s extremely important that we keep ourselves in tune with these trends, whether that means keeping up with trade news or looking to our agency partners to understand best practices and what other brands are doing — but ultimately, listening to our consumers.
What role does public relations play in strengthening the Converse brand?
We look at building solid communications strategies that set the tone and frame the narrative for company positioning. As communications strategists, we play an integral role in building and strengthening the Converse brand, as we are the first who set the tone through global brand messaging and stories for the media, and our consumers.
Through our cultivated relationships with media, [others look to our function] to craft the narrative, and ensure that this 100-plus-year-old brand continues to spark creativity, inspire advocacy and create meaningful, long-lasting relationships with our consumers.
Do Converse and your parent company, Nike, have any special outreach, philanthropy or community relations that you take part in around the holidays?
Giving is not defined to any specific time period — it is year-round. Our parent company gives back to communities through the lens of sports and physical activity, and supporting girls worldwide through the Nike Foundation. And at Converse, we give back through the lens of music, art and skate.
We celebrate our consumers first and listen to their needs. We believe in giving back and changing lives by providing platforms for the community to unleash their creative spirit. We create long-lasting partnerships that are here to stay.
Take, for example, our Converse Rubber Tracks Recording Studio in Brooklyn, where musicians can register for studio time and record for free. It’s part of our philosophy of being useful and giving back to an artistic community that has embraced the Converse brand for decades. We ask for nothing in return and have built strong, sustainable relationships with a lot of new voices.
How can we best reach today’s on-the-go consumer?
We live in a dynamic time and as a global brand that speaks to personal style and expression, social media presents itself as a natural forum for us to communicate with our consumers on the go. It’s a focused part of our overall communication strategy and will continue to play an important role in how we interact with our consumers.
What upcoming trends do you see on the horizon for the field of communications?
Digital is a trend that we believe is here to stay and will continue to grow. The brand recently relaunched our converse.com site, offering the consumer the ability to purchase Converse products on various mobile devices.
And in line with this, we strongly believe that social media is another great forum for us to communicate with media. With more than 37 million fans on Facebook and more than 300,000 Twitter followers, Converse continues to find new and exciting ways to communicate with our consumers.
Our communications functions have been working in tandem with the social team on how best to incorporate the digital trend into our overall brand strategies.
What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is having the privilege to lead an amazing team of communicators in each quadrant of the globe and having the ability to travel throughout these different countries to not only learn about the nuances of the Converse business and our global consumers, but also the cultural differences in how we operate as communicators.
My team allows me to be a coach and a student each and every day. Learning from my team enables me to be a better manager, leader and hopefully, a better person. In the end, it is my daily commitment that we win as a team.
What advice do you have for someone hoping to enter the communications field?
My advice would start with: Be flexible. Be willing to do new and different things and, above all, take risks. Study your craft, the industries that interest you — and the ones that don’t. You’ll be surprised where you’ll get your first big break. Know what’s happening in your community and around the globe.
Have a genuine interest in news and media, and be a sponge. The communications field thrives in a competitive landscape. You have to work hard, think outside the box, set yourself apart from the rest, and find yourself a good mentor. Trust me on that one.
If you could have three dinner guests, who would they be, and what would you eat?
Oprah Winfrey, Princess Diana and André Leon Talley — we would eat Thai food
What’s your favorite quote or leadership advice?
Always treat people the way you’d want to be treated.
Do you have a favorite place to travel?
At the moment, I’m most intrigued by Istanbul.
What’s your favorite book?
“The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho
Managing Editor Amy Jacques interviewed Terri Hines for this month’s member profile.
Amy Jacques is the managing editor of publications for PRSA. A native of Greenville, S.C., she holds a master’s degree in arts journalism from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Georgia’s Grady College and a certificate in magazine and website publishing from New York University.
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