Tina Kozak on Preparing for Constant Change

June-July 2021
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Name: Tina Kozak 

Title: CEO, Franco 

Location: Detroit

Job highlights: In my 14 years at the agency, I’ve worked my way through the ranks and, in January, I was promoted to CEO. I have a passion for Detroit, which is reflected in my philanthropic work with The Belle Isle Conservancy, Life Remodeled and Michigan Women Forward

Must-have app: Waze — I have a terrible sense of direction 

Three dinner guests: Michelle Obama, Michael Jordan, my great-grandmother 

Favorite books: “The Little Prince,” “Untamed,” “Big Love”

Best leadership advice: “Take time for reflection. The difference between a great manager and a great leader is taking time to reflect and making adjustments you notice in that assessment.” 



In January, you became the first woman CEO at integrated communications agency Franco. How did you approach this position after previously serving as president? 

Being the first female CEO in Franco’s history is an honor but also a big responsibility. While women comprise nearly 75 percent of the jobs in PR, we hold only 20 percent of senior leadership positions. I’m excited to represent a small step forward in changing that paradigm. But more important is what I do with the role. I’m approaching the role with tenacity, like I approach most everything. I really want to use this opportunity to serve my clients, my colleagues and my community. 

Can you share a little about Franco’s data-driven, people-powered approach to integrated communications?

Since Franco was founded in 1964, we’ve been rooted in PR — which makes us excellent at the people-powered, relationship and instinct elements of our work. But we’ve evolved our approach over our five-plus decades to remain at the forefront of a changing industry — combining PR, digital, creative and analytics to deliver integrated communications programs. 

Today, we’re an integrated communications agency that’s equal parts legacy and forward motion. We combine relationships and instinct (the people skills) with analytics and insights (the data) for truly integrated programs that can drive organizational performance — meaning we can (and do) track our results!

What are your thoughts on the future of the PR profession?

We recently surveyed our clients on what they anticipate their communications needs to be in the coming years. We received an overwhelming response that reflected a need for digital services. This only reinforced our team’s ideology that the future of PR is integration. 

Through 57 years of experience, we have discovered that programs are most successful when they operate holistically with aligned messaging across all channels. 

Gone are the days when a traditional PR strategy consisting of only earned media can meet a modern client’s needs. In recent years, we’ve added new talent and services, including digital and creative, to best power our integrated programs to stay ahead of the curve in an industry that never stops evolving. 

You are a working mother. How have you balanced a demanding career with essential family time, especially during the pandemic? 

I am proud that my work can set a positive example for my two young daughters. But honestly, there’s never a day when I feel like I’m acing it both personally and professionally. When I feel unbalanced, I remind myself to manage my own expectations, give myself grace and avoid social media-induced comparisons. 

Having a strong support system is important. Setting boundaries is challenging but essential. The pandemic has blurred some of those lines but, overall, I’ve been able to spend more time with my family since working remote. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to the hyper-scheduled routine I left behind in 2020. This time has made me think about what’s important, what’s necessary and how and where I can make an impact.

What advice do you have for the next generation of communicators?

Plan on one thing: constant change. Successful communicators are always learning and adapting to meet new challenges. The next generation will need to truly be integrated communicators. They’ll need to learn it all, then be ready for things to change and learn the new stuff.

Wash, rinse, repeat. It’s more than great writing or interpersonal skills. Communicators need to be curious, empathetic, open-minded and ready to move faster than the pace of change.

As a lifelong resident of Detroit, how does the city inspire you personally and professionally? 

There’s almost nothing I love more than Detroit. The city’s perpetual resilience serves as a major source of inspiration for me and my work. My “why,” or the reason I do what I do, has always been to make my little corner of the world a better place. 

Today, I’m proud to say I can look around and see a tangible impact from the projects I’ve supported and led through my time at Franco. This fulfills me more than any title, any one “win” or any paycheck. I’m proud — and lucky! — to employ Detroiters who awaken a sense of pride in the community and help our clients tell their stories on a national level to spread the Detroit love. 

When I’m not working, I love a reflective walk around Belle Isle or supporting a local Detroit business. And I love seeing people, products and ideas from Detroit succeed.

Return to Current Issue Creating Your Personal Brand | June-July 2021
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