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On the Case With…

Each month, as part of “The Business Case for Public Relations,” PRSA asks an industry leader to reflect on his or her career and make a “business case” for public relations.

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On the Case with Marisa Vallbona, APR, Fellow PRSA

September 27, 2012

Marisa Vallbona, APR, Fellow PRSA, is president and founder of CIM Incorporated, a Southern California PR firm that just celebrated its 22nd anniversary. She is also the co-founder of PRConsultants Group Inc., a national network of PR firms. She has won four Silver Anvil awards from PRSA and a Silver Anvil Best of Show. 

Vallbona serves on PRSA’s National Board of Directors and is an adviser to San Diego State University’s PRSSA Chapter. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, speaks Spanish and French, and holds citizenships in Costa Rica, Spain and the United States.

As National Hispanic Heritage Month is currently under way, Vallbona reflects on the importance of her heritage. “My parents told me that one day I’d thank them for forcing me to speak Spanish,” she says. “They were right. It’s a different world today, with a large portion of our population proud to call itself Hispanic. I see this in my own sons and how they treasure our heritage and love speaking Spanish.”

Name:  Marisa Vallbona, APR, Fellow PRSA

Childhood ambition:
When I was 12, my friends and I fried an egg on the sidewalk on an extremely hot day in Texas. We got on the news and I loved being on camera — I decided I wanted to be a news anchor or a foreign news correspondent.

Current livelihood:
Running my PR firm, CIM Incorporated

What changed (i.e. how you became interested in public relations):
I was studying broadcast journalism at UT, and couldn’t get into the final classes I needed to graduate. The guidance counselor suggested I switch to public relations because my classes would transfer. I decided to give it a one-semester try, got hooked and never looked back.

First public relations job:
Account executive at Jae Stefan & Associates in Austin

What you know now that you wish you’d known then:
Worrying doesn’t solve the problem, and hinders finding a solution because it blocks creativity.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received:
Go above and beyond with all assignments with a joyful heart, and you’ll be entrusted/blessed with more. It’s not about how it benefits you, but how you benefit and serve others.

Greatest professional accomplishment:
Launching XM Satellite Radio in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Our team had to scrap our launch event — scheduled the day after 9/11 — and create a new strategy. It took endless hours, a lot of travel and an amazing team.

If you weren’t in public relations, you would be:
A news anchor or foreign news correspondent

Desired legacy:
Professionally — as someone who loved public relations, enjoyed serving this profession, and inspired students/professionals to get involved and give back. Personally — as someone who was kind, accepting, respectful and generous.

Make a “business case” for public relations: 
Public relations is vital to helping organizations maintain trust with stakeholders.


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