Though a propensity for laughing did get Shirine Coburn into a bit of trouble early in her career, she has a great deal to smile about now as she has parlayed a rather impressive list of famous contacts into her eponymous agency.
Describe the company you work for Shirine Coburn Communication is a New York-based PR firm specializing in entertainment, beauty and lifestyle, and food and beverage. I'm the president.
Tell us something amusing about your company Despite numerous lessons, none of us can work the VCR except for one poor soul who has to take care of all our programming needs every day, although it isn't her job.
How did you get into PR? My first position out of college was as assistant publicist for Live with Regis & Kathie Lee. And yes, Kathie Lee was really very nice! From there, I worked for Calvin Klein cosmetics for four years, and then for an agency, where I repped Elizabeth Taylor and Donald Trump.
What was your best pitch? Getting a virtually unknown client onto The Tonight Show, The Late Show with David Letterman, and into The New York Times Magazine on the strength of contacts.
What was your biggest screw-up? During my younger, more immature days, we had one client with a sort-of funny name. None of us could say it without snickering. Whenever we would call to pitch him to the media, we would always break out in laughter and have to hang up. Luckily, this was during the days before caller ID.
What are you working on this week? Five new business proposals, and taking one client through the New York talk-show circuit.
What time do you get up? It depends on my cats' level of hunger.
What invention would make your job easier? It's been invented, but I don't have one - a car and driver.
Write the headline for the story you would most like to read in PRWeek
"High-profile nightmare clients: Publicists reveal all!" Of course, I couldn't participate as all of my clients are lovely.
Who would you most like to work with? Sumner Redstone of Viacom. I'm just finishing his book, and I love it. Barry Diller, David Letterman, and Oprah also make this list.
What's your party trick? Arriving late and leaving early.
If you were an animal, what would you be? A panther - sleek, stealthy, and dangerous.
Name one thing about you people would be surprised to learn I was a ballerina. I also giggle in my sleep.
What skill would you most like to have? The ability to tell a joke.
I have unusually lame delivery and will ruin even the funniest story.
Which historical figure would you most like to represent? Many come to mind. The top five would be FDR, Queen Elizabeth I, John D. Rockefeller, Jacqueline Onassis, and Coco Chanel.
What is the secret of your success? Pure childlike excitement about my job, accepting setbacks as a normal course of events, and unrelenting persistence.