Cori Wallace: R&R’s personal PR ninja.

Cori Blog Photo

Hailing from Kansas City, MO, our new business developer Cori Wallace has a passion for all things public relations. With more than 15 years in the industry, she’s an expert in fraternal organizations and nonprofit communities, but still has time to binge almost every show on Netflix.

SM: What is your role at Rhyme & Reason Design?

CW: My title is new business development. I am responsible for introducing potential clients to the capabilities of Rhyme & Reason Design. It’s my job to connect people with what we can do and how we can help them accomplish their organizational goals. Ultimately marketing is about identifying problems and using creativity and smart strategy to solve them. Most of my client targets are nonprofit organizations, and how they connect with donors, volunteers and members has changed, and those changes require some agility and support. My job is to illustrate what marketing can do to help our clients achieve their objectives.

SM: How did you come across Rhyme & Reason Design?

CW: I’ve been familiar with Rhyme & Reason Design for years! 8 years ago I was the director of marketing and communications for a national sorority, and we were getting ready to look at ways to rebrand our extension documents. I had heard a lot about R&R—Karen and Scarlett were doing a lot of cool and interesting work. R&R ended up developing our extension micro-site and during those first few conversations I remember thinking, “These two women have something really special and they are creating the most unique work in the fraternal space.” I knew they were wonderful women, but the work was what really stood out to me.

SM: What’s one thing you want your clients to know at Rhyme & Reason Design?  

CW: I am really proud of the discipline at R&R. A lot of agencies don’t have the ability to focus; they chase a lot of bright, shiny things and they make a lot of promises they can’t keep. Our discipline is what makes me the most proud of our team. We’re very responsible with the commitments that we make to our partners and we do not overpromise, which ensures our longevity and preserves mutual respect.

SM: Tell me about your experience with Miss America?

CW: It’s a fun side-gig, and one I fell into! I am one of three tour managers for Miss America, so when I’m on the road with her for an event or paid appearance he’s supporting, I learn a lot about people’s perceptions of this one woman. People will react to meeting her in really powerful ways. People might not know that the current Miss America travels thousands of miles a month, and she is on duty seven days a week. It’s been really interesting to see public relations at that level and with her, the PR never stops, it’s every day. A lot of people might not know her name, but they know Miss America, and it’s my job to support her as she represents the organization.

SM: You’ve worked in and around fraternity for more than a decade, tell me more about those experiences? 

CW: More than 20 years ago, I was hired as a consultant for my own organization immediately after I graduated from college. That program allows recent graduates the opportunity to travel the country in support of our undergraduate chapters. I took a break to work in advertising, then for a national non-profit and then began volunteering for a number of different leadership programs designed specifically for fraternity and sorority members. I was facilitating and speaking for a number of Greek organizations, which led me to some really wonderful friendships. A good friend invited me to apply for a job with Tri Sigma – she believed I could use the skills I had cultivated when working in marketing and advertising in support of a sorority. Tri Sigma opened their doors to me and it began a journey where I worked for a number of different fraternal groups, and then for a company that works almost exclusively for fraternal clients. That’s what led me to reconnect with Scarlett and Karen – and to the role I have today!

SM: What inspires you?

CW: (laughs) I am a total media junky. I will watch almost any movie, any TV show, read any book or listen to any podcast that has buzz around it—I just consume a lot of content. I have a lot of respect for artists and performers, anyone who can design something or create art, is a great dancer or exceptional musician. I’m motivated by seeing good work. I love working in an agency environment because I get to see art intentionally created every day. I get to see when our design team comes up with something interesting or really smart.

SM: What did you want to be when you were younger?

CW: I wanted to be a broadcaster. And then I realized if I was going to do that I’d most likely have to live in a really tiny town for a large portion of my career. I didn’t figure that out until I got to college, but I thought it would be this easy, glamorous job and it’s not; it’s a tough grind. To be honest, I still think about what I want to be when I grow up because there are so many opportunities that open up to you when you are thinking that anything can happen, so when a new opportunity does pop up I’ll be ready for it!

SM: What’s one of your biggest learning moments?

CW: I try to learn something new every day. It’s taken me a long time to learn that I can always ask for help. I can say I need clarification here or I’m still confused and people are not going to think I’m an idiot faking my way through my job. For so long I was afraid of people thinking that I didn’t know what I was doing. Now I have no problem saying, “I’ve never done that before, so we’re going to need to figure it out together.” My colleagues are not going to regret me sharing where I have limitations or blind spots. Realizing I can ask for help typically makes me look like I care to learn, and that I’m humble enough to ask. Every vulnerability is something you can work on, and if you’re transparent about them, other people can help you grow.