THE PUBLICIST: For the optimum PR gig, Santa Catalina is an island unto itself

Imagine a beautiful island in the Pacific. Cool ocean breezes waft across a small, idyllic village. Boats gently bob in a gorgeous harbor, set against the twinkling lights of picturesque homes dotting a majestic hill. Imagine escaping snowy, freezing East Coast winters to live and work in such a place.

Imagine a beautiful island in the Pacific. Cool ocean breezes waft across a small, idyllic village. Boats gently bob in a gorgeous harbor, set against the twinkling lights of picturesque homes dotting a majestic hill. Imagine escaping snowy, freezing East Coast winters to live and work in such a place.

Gwen Bronson doesn't have to imagine. She's doing it. Three years ago, Gwen took her small-college liberal arts degree and fled New York to find haven as the publicity and marketing maven for Santa Catalina Island. Which is why I hate her. Because until I met Gwen, I was sure I had the best PR gig going. Our interview left me pondering a most unsettling possibility as I sipped an adult beverage and enjoyed a spectacular view from the outdoor Jacuzzi atop the Metropole Hotel in Avalon, Catalina's harbor hub. (The Metropole Jacuzzi, by the way, is a great place to spark a little romance. Trust me.) Despite the heavenly warmth of the flow jets tickling my toes, I couldn't stop fretting, "What if, maybe, I don't have the world's best PR gig?" Housed in a two-story building on Avalon's main boardwalk, Gwen commutes to the island by boat a few days a week, working the rest of the time at her LA home. Reporting to the president of the island's chamber of commerce, she pitches travel and leisure sections of West Coast dailies (her primary target market), as well as national travel mags and Sunday supplements. And she's succeeding, placing Catalina Island mentions in upcoming issues of The New York Times and Travel & Leisure. With 75% of Catalina visitors hailing from SoCal, Gwen says the island hasn't felt the current travel and economic slowdowns much. However, the chamber relies on a PR push and special events to boost "shoulder season" business in the fall and early spring. An October jazz festival, the Catalina Island Museum's 50th anniversary, and a New Year's Eve extravaganza are among the promotions Gwen is organizing. Chatting in her office, I casually fished for any signs of hidden job torment. An ogre boss? Merciless hours? Sea sickness during the boat commutes? Nothing. Maybe she gets the cold shoulder from native islanders who treat her like a Yankee outsider? No, again. The residents, I can sadly attest, are friendly and hospitable. It was clear that I must live with having only the second best PR job in the world. Another drink and more time in the Jacuzzi helped eased the acceptance.
  • Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer

  • Have you registered with us yet?

    Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

    Register
    Already registered?
    Sign in