She reckons she gets the best bits out of PR without having to do
the worst, and if it's your head she's hunting, better make sure she
doesn't turn it orange. Meet Valerie Pressley, principal of Carlson &
Describe the company you work for. Carlson & Co. is a boutique executive
search firm with offices in San Francisco and Seattle. Our clients range
from tech companies to PR agencies. We place mid- to senior-level
professionals in PR, marketing, and sales positions.
What do you do? My role, particularly in the current market, is to lead
by example, roll-up my sleeves and help our clients recruit the best
talent available. It is also important for me to inspire, motivate and
reward success for my team.
Tell us something amusing about your company? Our SF office space used
to be set-up as a beautician's compound of sorts - it is comprised of
three cottages nestled in a little garden setting.
They did hair in one cottage, waxing in the second, and massage in the
third. Needless to say, we found some interesting things when we moved
How did you get into PR? I did two PR internships when I was in college
- one at Ketchum in Washington, DC, and one for a small PR firm in Santa
Barbara, CA. I knew I wanted to be part of the PR world. Now, as a
recruiter, I get to interact with exciting PR people and keep my hand on
the pulse of the industry without that darn media pitching every
What was your biggest screw-up? About three years ago, I was involved in
a business partnership that lasted only about 10 months. I didn't listen
to advice about not doing business with "friends," putting things in
writing, etc. That oversight cost me a bunch of money and many
headaches, but it made me a much smarter and happier businesswoman with
my own company.
What are you working on this week? Pursuing new clients, doing employee
reviews, lining up new client meetings, interviewing potential
recruiters, and planting flowers in front of our Seattle office.
What time do you get up? Well, I haven't gotten around to hanging
curtains in the bedroom, so I pretty much wake up with the sun.
What invention would make your job easier? An honesty meter. I'd be able
to more accurately assess the intentions, goals, feedback and decisions
of our candidates and client partners.
What's the biggest item you've ever put on expenses? The cost of
starting and running a company 100% out of pocket.
What's the most daring thing you've ever done? I dyed my hair orange. It
was actually supposed to be a chestnut brown color, but things didn't
quite work out as planned.