PROFILE: Moore embraces change to help RadioShack rebound

Laura Moore, chief communications officer for RadioShack, helped the chain bounce back after the downturn with a positive view of obstacles and a change-is-good attitude. Laura Moore describes herself as a change agent. The chief communications officer for a mammoth retail chain, Moore never took a status-quo job.

Laura Moore, chief communications officer for RadioShack, helped the chain bounce back after the downturn with a positive view of obstacles and a change-is-good attitude. Laura Moore describes herself as a change agent. The chief communications officer for a mammoth retail chain, Moore never took a status-quo job.

"She hates the routine, she hates complacency, and she loves the challenge," says her boss, RadioShack CEO Leonard Roberts. "I get bored easily," Moore admits. Boredom isn't a problem at RadioShack, the ubiquitous chain of 7,100 stores synonymous with electronics and gadgets. Moore has lived through interesting times there, but she views challenges as blessings instead of curses. Raised in a middle-class Dallas suburb, Moore dropped drill team for yearbook in high school because her after- school job didn't leave time for both. She worked on the yearbook staff in college, as well, but her first PR class sent her down a different track. She also worked a variety of YMCA jobs during college, everything from teaching aerobics classes to bus driving. (Longtime friend Marilyn Pippin, president of Dallas' Hopkins & Associates, remembers Moore leading an aerobics class to rev up attendees at a Women in Communications conference.) Moore says settling playground spats as a YMCA day-camp counselor taught her valuable dispute-resolution skills. "I enjoyed that," Moore recalls. "I always look at things from a lot of different views before making a decision." Her first big PR job required lots of diplomacy. After 20 years of planning and politics, the Texas Department of Transportation began upgrading a key Dallas traffic artery, North Central Expressway, in the mid-1980s. "I was the first public affairs officer hired for a single roadway project in the history of the highway department," Moore recalls. "At the time, it was the largest-dollar construction project in the state of Texas." Outreach to affected property owners occupied most of her time. Always anticipating her next career step, Moore set her sites on the corporate world. She took a job as community relations manager for Fidelity Investments' Dallas office, but quickly learned that company headquarters is the place to be. She soon moved to ailing Dallas-based jewelry retailer Zale Corp. In the midst of bankruptcy, Zale relied on external agencies for most IR work, leaving Moore to focus internally as corporate communications manger. Her duties expanded greatly when Bob DiNicola took over as CEO and Zale emerged from bankruptcy. "Being part of a true turnaround was an incredible experience," Moore says. "A lot of people had lost hope that we could make it. Vendors didn't want to do business with us. Customers didn't want to shop with us. Employees were fearful. We wanted to re-establish ourselves and become profitable again." Moore's work at Zale caught the attention of a headhunter seeking a PR leader for RadioShack as Roberts ascended to the CEO slot in 1998. "I believe communication is critical to any strategy," says Roberts, who pegged Moore as his top PR VP candidate when they met. "Communications is the very fabric of everything we do." Moore says her work has undergone three phases at RadioShack. At first, she focused on reforming the company's culture while introducing Roberts to internal and external audiences. With the new CEO well established, her team concentrated on supporting brands and products. "We hadn't done a lot of that," Moore recalls. "There wasn't a strong integration between marketing and communications." The PR staff worked to make themselves resources for the marketing and ad departments and to integrate their talents into strategy development. During this time, RadioShack entered store-within-a-store arrangements with brands like RCA, Microsoft, and Verizon, and scored a big hit with its ZipZap remote-control cars. A prime example of PR integration is RadioShack's LifeWise line of health-related products, like blood-pressure monitors and pedometers. PR played an integral role in launching and sustaining the brand, Moore says. "We did not have credibility off the bat with health-related products," she notes. "We worked with nonprofit partners to establish credibility." More recently, the economic downturn caused RadioShack to look inward again toward organizational effectiveness. As part of that effort, RadioShack promoted several top executives to chief-level positions. Although Moore has reported directly to Roberts since coming to RadioShack, she officially gained the CCO title last spring. "One could argue that everyone else caught up to her," Roberts says. "She set a standard for what a chief officer does." Moore already headed internal communications, media and community relations, and recognition programs, but the organizational change moved franchise and store communications under her umbrella, too. She sees her biggest ongoing challenge as integrating all RadioShack communications programs. "I've always been impressed with her strategic thinking and how she elevated communications to the board level," says Jeff Hunt, president of GCI-Read Poland. GCI and Stanton Crenshaw are among the PR firms RadioShack uses. "She's a role model for how we'd like to see corporate communications executives positioned around the world." When not at work, Moore golfs and cooks. She says that both allow her to relax and focus her mind on one thing instead of many. She spends a lot of time at the office, however, and looks forward to moving into RadioShack's new, under-construction headquarters on the banks of the Trinity River. Meanwhile, Moore's boss is thankful for all the times her counsel kept the company out of hot water. "There have been numerous situations that would have been disastrous if Laura didn't drive us nuts," Roberts says. Laura Moore 1998-present RadioShack, VP of PR/corporate comms. Promoted to chief comms officer last year 1993-1998 Zale Corp., corporate comms manager. Promoted to VP, corporate comms in 1995 1992-1993 Fidelity Inv., community relations manager 1986-1992 Texas DoT, public affairs officer (PAO) for North Central Expressway reconstruction. Promoted to Dallas district PAO in 1989 1984-1986 Dallas County Schools, PR director 1983-1984 Journalism degree, East Texas State Univ. Worked as a trade journalist before joining YMCA as a program coordinator

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