Wide Eyes, Big City

“Route to Las Vegas, Nevada,” my mom demanded from an all-knowing computerized character, also known as, ‘Siri’. And with a single screen tap, we embarked on a 1,300 mile adventure across the country.

To my mom, it was a lengthy trek packed with gas station stops and tourist-y retail shops. She secretly enjoyed it, because it meant three days off of work and an excuse to visit Las Vegas. But, she assured me that her tagging along was solely for my safety. Regardless of her intentions, she was on my side and by my side.

To folks back home, my adventure seemed hasty and wild. Sin City…Sin City?! In the cont divideheart of the South (Arkansas), the idea just didn’t sit well with some. My landlord, during our second conversation in an entire year, was quick to warn me that the area was full of, wait for it…sin. And, he encouraged me to stick to my morals and keep my head “out of the gutter.” Others didn’t have to mumble a word…expressions can speak volumes.

Twenty-four hours, two sunsets and one motel-stop later, my mother and I finally spotted the strip. Immediately, I got this all-over tingly feeling. Ever since I was tiny, I get chill bumps when I see skyscrapers (must a small-town thing). My mom had been here several times and served as a phenomenal tour guide. She wanted to stay on the strip so I could get a taste of it before I moved in with family.

blvdThe strip was so much different than I expected. Quite honestly, the entire town was different. Similar to people back home, I had long envisioned what Las Vegas must look like…and feel like. I pictured an outdated town infested with dusty billboards and gold … just a LOT of gold. To my surprise, it is nothing of the sort. And YES, I apologize for ever thinking that. Everything from the roads and hotels to the shops and restaurants – are clean, innovative and unique.

Moving into Summerlin also proved my foolish theory false. A quaint and comfy villagemomvegas complete with manicured shopping strips and walking trails? I could get used to this.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t until my assignment at Red Rock Canyon (thank you, Alison), that it began to make sense. With an iPhone GPS route set and a cardboard cutout in tow, I ventured out to the scenic loop. The further I drove, the more I relaxed. I rolled the ole Jeep’s windows down and breathed in the Vegas air. For the first time in a long time, I had a moment to myself. And for the first time ever, I was surrounded by this strange and beautiful natural creation.

RRCI have seen mountains and I have seen beaches. I have traveled quite a bit for my age. But, I have never seen something this spectacular.

Fast-forwarding through the photo shoot of a cardboard character and assistance from confused tourists, the task proved to be very enlightening. Throughout the drive, I couldn’t stop grinning. And to locals, this might sound silly. But to me, it was the first time I fully realized I had seized a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in one of the greatest cities on Earth.

All at once, my mind drifted to the comments I received in response to my plan. I bmgreflected on my decision to put school on hold for a semester. I thought about this place that is commonly referred to as “Sin City.” And … I laughed. I am learning not to let others’ opinions define me or guide me. But rather, allow them to fuel my aspirations.

I have found comfort in this magical place. I realize that there is SO much more to this city than meets the eye. I consider Las Vegas to be similar to a potential client. Early in, my journey has shown me that Las Vegas has a story to be told. I am reminded that, as a prospective public relations professional, I must learn how to invest in a client and highlight its positive features. In order to fully comprehend and value a business venture, client or in this case – an opportunity, you must step outside of your comfort zone and take the risk. I mean, heck…two weeks in my co-workers have given me the chance to interact with the coolest clients around. I have ridden VooDoo ZipLine, visited the set of Blue Man Group Las Vegas and worked at Hard Rock Hotel Resort and Casino’s Rehab Pool Party. Anyone who truly knows me, is behind me in this quest for self discovery and personal education. And, anyone who knows Las Vegas, knows that I am in for a real treat…bring it on!!






In celebration of College Colors Day, check out all of the colleges represented at KDC!

KDC College Colors Day

Baruch College

Baylor University

Bradley University

California Polytechnic San Luis Obispo

Chapman University

Colorado State University

Concordia University – Ann Arbor

DePaul University

Florida State University

Fresno State

Iowa State University

Michigan State University

New Mexico State University

Pennsylvania State University

San Diego State University

SUNY College at Brockport

Texas A&M

The University of Texas at Austin

University of Arkansas

University of Missouri – Columbia

University of Nevada Las Vegas

University of Wisconsin – Madison

Western Michigan University

Western State Colorado University

Westminster College (PA)

York College of Pennsylvania

Moving on up 

When Alison first told me I was being promoted to assistant account executive (AAE) just over a month and a half ago I was excited for the opportunity to grow even more in my PR career. I’d been daydreaming about the possibility of moving up, contemplating the added responsibilities and the ways I could add even more skills to those I’d learned as a coordinator. I didn’t imagine the opportunity would be presenting itself as early as it did but the time was here and I was ready to step up my game.

I constantly make lists in my head. To-dos for the day and week, grocery shopping, packing, dream travel spots, new restaurants to check out, what needs to be fixed on my car, you name it, there’s probably a list for it going on somewhere in my mind. With that, I’ve come up with a list of goals I want to work on that I think will help make me a better AAE and PR pro overall.

  1. Write, write, write!
    My favorite non-PR course during college was the creative non-fiction writing class I took my last semester. I loved that the projects forced me to look at things from a different angle or encouraged me to tell my story in a way that would give someone who doesn’t know me the ability to understand the way I view the world.
    One of our latest client projects has been a company rebrand and with that comes a new challenge of adapting my writing style to the match the new look, feel and voice. In order to improve my writing I need to write. And I need to write every day, even if only for 10-20 minutes. Looking ahead, I’d love to challenge myself to devoting more time to writing so I can really find my voice and explore ideas to make my writing for clients even better.
  1. Pick up a book and read
    In PR, you never know what kind of clients you may be working on next so being able to be well versed in a mixture of industries is a huge help. If your client’s favorite magazine is Esquire, you better be picking that up and learning, not only the journalists who are writing for the outlet, but also the pub’s unique style. I have a list of books and magazines I want to start reading, so I think it’s time I start checking some of those off this year.
  1. Get outside your comfort zone and get creative
    I used to be the pickiest eater out there. I didn’t like tomatoes, onions, fish, green beans, mustard, pesto, things that looked too oily, guacamole (the horror!), you name it and I probably didn’t like it. The best thing I’ve done for myself, and my palate, in recent years was to just suck it up and try. There was this whole world of beautiful flavors out there and I was blind to it because I was stuck in my circle.
    Advice, don’t get stuck in your circle. Stepping out and trying new things, whether it’s what I’m eating or my weekend activities, has really helped me break out of my shell. My goal here is to push myself creatively, take chances and stop second guessing myself when I want to explore new ideas that may or may not work out.

∼Ashley Trevizo


I moved after college, and you should too

I was chatting in a Strip resort food court packed with silent (probably hung-over) people bright and early on a Sunday morning with an old boss turned mentor and friend. Conversation flowed from her agency and people we knew to my job at Kirvin Doak when she mentioned how shocked she was that I had accepted a job and moved to Las Vegas, in two weeks. She continued saying that predictable, reliable me had completely broken out of my mold and tried something completely new. She was proud.

After thinking about her comments, I’m thrilled that I broke the mold and moved, but moving was not always the original plan. I went to college less than two hours away from my family and the town that we lived in since I started kindergarten. The plan was to continue hanging around. That’s clearly not what happened, since I’ve been at Kirvin Doak for a year now. For recent grads and young adults that are thinking about moving, do it! For those not considering moving, think again! Here’s why:

1)      Get out of your comfort zone. Living in the same town, with the same people and same views for the vast majority of my life was comfortable. I traveled, I thought about change but why when life was so comfortable? I had only visited Vegas once, when I was 18. I moved not knowing a single person in this city. My parents called me reckless and irresponsible while my friends told me I was brave. Moving got me out of my comfort zone. I met new people, made new friends, have done some really amazing things. It’s easy to stick with what’s comfortable but you’re missing out on wonderful chances that you don’t even know exist.

2)      Creativity! New views, new people, new opportunities get those creative ideas flowing. Drawing on something different and random adventures sparks the best ideas that will come in handy for clients and your personal life. Don’t limit yourself and the things that you can think of.

3)      Expand your network. Meeting professionals in a new city while maintaining any contacts you had in your old city drastically helps in ways you could never have imagined! Your network can never be too big and who knows where those people will take you or bring to you?

4)      Find yourself. Yes, college is the time to find yourself and figure out who you are but that wasn’t the case for me. I was too busy with sorority life, internships, jobs, classes, family and friends to take time to discover who I was. I also didn’t have the money to do the things that I wanted to do. Take a professional photography class or painting class was out of the question at school (they didn’t fit in my college schedule). Getting away from everyone and everything that defined me gave me the freedom to be me.

5)      No mortgage, no babies, no worries! No mortgage, no family, no huge responsibilities, so why not? When starting a career, it’s easy to pick up and move! It’s probably the only time that you can just move without (as much) stressing and worrying. The older you get, the more responsibilities you’ll have and the less likely you are to try new things. Really, now is the best time, maybe the only time. Take advantage of this freedom before you are really tied down.

Taking a chance and moving somewhere new is something you will never regret. After all, if things don’t work out, you can always go home.  But if you have the courage to make a leap of faith, I highly doubt that you will fail. If anything, you’ll be surprised at the things you can accomplish.

∼Tamara Sewell

The Internship

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Okay actually it was just the best of times. Prior to starting my internship at Kirvin Doak Communications, I knew the bare minimum of public relations. To me, a career in public relations only consisted of writing a few things and talking to a few people. Although these are the basics of PR, I quickly realized how much more there was to it.

The time I have spent as an intern has shown me how demanding and fulfilling this career path can be. The pressing deadlines, constant pitches, press releases, listings, endless in-studios and staffing of events have kept everyday fresh and exciting. There hasn’t been a day I have dreaded coming into the office. Now, this is saying a lot because I am nowhere close to being a morning person. I enjoy knowing that one day I may be working on a Membership Monday blog while the next day I may be on the Strip assisting in the filming of various suites at a Las Vegas hotel. The constant flow of new projects and changing environments won my heart and sold me on a public relations career. Who really wants to be stuck doing the exact same thing every day?

Interning at Kirvin Doak Communications has made me confident in my decision to pursue a career in public relations. I can honestly say that you do not know a career path until you are working in it and after seeing the ins and outs of PR first hand I could not imagine another career path. I am so thankful for the knowledge I have gained through this internship and the improvement I have seen in my writing. I have learned more than I ever thought I would this summer! Although I am getting ready to head back to Arizona State University, this is not goodbye. I mean, public relations is its own small little world anyways, isn’t it?

Until next time,
Taylor Sidor


There’s still room on the band wagon….

#USAvBEL  July 1 2014

#USAvBEL July 1 2014

I believe….

I love sports.  I grew up loving sports.  I love football.  I love basketball.  I love golf. I love rugby.  I love the competitive nature of sports.  I love the team environment of sports.  I simply love sports.  I love college sports. I love professional sports.  I love Olympic sports.  You get the point…

Today I love soccer.  Yes, I am jumping on the bandwagon from the excitement created by the World Cup.  I’ve watched it on and off every four years because of the lack of live sports during the summer.   However, this summer is different.  This team is different.   I’ve watched almost every game of the World Cup this year – no matter who is playing.

Do I understand soccer…no, however I am truly enjoying every game.

I love the pride, passion and energy of the game.  I love how our country has embraced this team.  I love how social media has rallied around this team and the World Cup.  By the way, have you seen ESPN/ABC’s ratings for the World Cup?  Winner, winner chicken dinner!

So today, I’m wearing my NIKE U.S. Soccer Just Do It T-shirt and the TV is tuned to ESPN.  My fingers are crossed and I’ll be cheering for the home team.

I believe

I believe that

I believe that we will win

I believe that we will win

I believe that we will win

#USA #OneNationOneTeam  #AreYouReady #USAvBEL

Game time is 1 p.m. PT  today – get your flag and jump on the bandwagon!

-Terri Maruca




A Girl’s Right to Spa and A Little Frosting

I have noticed over the years that there is a ritual for girls right before we go out of town. Whether it is a weekend getaway or a luxurious vacation, there always seems to be a constant: getting pampered. Ha, I bet you thought I was going to say over-packing! While that may also be true, I have become a regular to a nice spa day to get me in vacation mode.

A few days ago, my girlfriend called me up and said “Let’s go to California.” Having never been, I was all in. After getting details sorted, I looked down and realized I desperately needed a pedicure.  Working at Kirvin Doak, I have the luxury of knowing where the hottest new treatments are, and there was a new treatment that I have been dying to try, the PAVÉ Crystal Pedicure. It is a pedicure add-on available for $30 at Costa Del Sur Spa and Salon at the South Point Hotel, which also happens to be one of my favorite Vegas spa and salon retreats.

I was completely unfamiliar with anything involving crystal bedazzlement, but it reminded me of the movie “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” when diamonds are referred to as frosting,” so of course my curiosity got the better of me!

With my appointment booked, I headed over for my amazing treatment at Costa Del Sur Spa and Salon. I have had my fair share of pedicures over the years but this one was an entirely new experience. It began with a lavish soak in an aroma-therapeutic bath followed by a gentle exfoliation process.

As I relaxed in my massage chair and sipped on a complimentary glass of wine, I received an extraordinary massage! Just like my pedicures, I am no stranger to massages, but this one in particular was out of this world. For nearly 20 minutes, it was as though every muscle in my legs and feet were liquefied.

While the massage was incredible and my toes were buffed to perfection, what impressed me even more was the PAVÉ Crystal Pedicure that I had as an add-on. The attention to detail during this quick 10-minute application was remarkable. My polish had dried, and I selected tiny crystals to match my color. While there were 15 different colors to choose from, I decided to take the traditional pink route and go with the Rose appliqué.

Curious how these tiny crystals were going to be added to my pedicure, I watched carefully as a light adhesive was applied to my big toe. Next, the crystals were lined up perfectly with my nail and set in place. Once the crystals were in place, my technician gently centered and straightened each individual crystal to ensure they were flawlessly aligned.

Having awful eyesight I could barely see the tiny crystals so I quickly grabbed my glasses and looked at the finished product.  It amazed me how tiny the crystals were, but I was even more amazed at the glorious sparkle that it added to my pedicure. I have never been one for a lot of bling, but the tiny crystals offered a touch of glam that wasn’t too little or too much.  Now that my toes have been frosted, I am officially ready for my California debut!

By Jackie Dadas

5 Tips for Surviving Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit

Over Mother’s Day weekend, top chefs and sommeliers from around the world descend

The KDC team at Grand Tasting Caesars Palace (photo credit Ethan Miller)

The KDC team at Grand Tasting Caesars Palace (photo credit Ethan Miller)

upon Las Vegas for Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit, throwing the city into a flurry of foie gras and fine wine. Not sure who was present during this four-day festival? Think TV personalities Giada De Laurentiis, Buddy Valastro and Gordon Ramsay along with celebrity chefs Michael Mina, Joël Robuchon and more. This year, events were hosted at ARIA, Bellagio, Caesars Palace, MGM Grand and The Venetian and while my #TeamWhiteley colleagues tried their best to offer as much advice as they could for my first Vegas Uncork’d experience, nothing quite prepares you for the real thing. Below are five tips for PR practitioners that can work for any multi-day, multi-venue event:

1. Prepare in advance. As with any and all events, the more you can get done before, the better off you’ll be. For us, this includes creating a “PR Book” – more like Bible – complete with staffing schedules, contact list, media attendance list, press releases, media alerts, talking points, run-of-shows, a tip sheet and event one-sheets. Having all of your supporting documents in one place is not only crucial when trying to correctly name each chef (hello, tip sheet), but also when checking in media, arranging interviews and making sure you arrive at your event on time.

2. Learn the back roads. There’s nothing more frustrating than sitting at the same stop

Giada De Laurentiis took a break from serving guest at Grand Tasting to chat about her new reastaurant and take a quick picture.

Giada De Laurentiis took a break from serving guest at Grand Tasting to chat about her new reastaurant and take a quick picture.

light and watching it turn from green to yellow to red two or three times before making it through. For this reason alone, do not take Las Vegas Blvd. to get to properties on The Strip. While it may be unavoidable at times, there are back entrances to most of these properties. Dean Martin Dr., Frank Sinatra Dr. and Koval Ln. are lifesavers when you need to get from one end of the Strip to the other. With a variety of events taking place simultaneously at each of the properties during Vegas Uncork’d, you have to make your way between the properties very quickly.

3. Arrive early and be attentive. As PR professionals, our first order of business when arriving at an event is to make sure everything is set up for attending media. This means checking to see if the restaurant has arranged for a media table (and there are enough seats reserved for those scheduled to attend), deciding on a media escort and, finally, meeting with the manager to chat about pre-arranged interviews. At the same time, you’ll need to call/text/email attending media (thanks, PR Book) if they haven’t checked-in as some chefs won’t begin until all seats are filled.

4. Remember to eat. Although this is a food festival, you’re lucky if you can sample dishes at 1% of the events since rushing from property to property leaves little downtime. Make

Gordon Ramsay was constantly surrounded by fans but, luckily, I was able to sneak a photo

Gordon Ramsay was constantly surrounded by fans but, luckily, I was able to sneak a photo

sure to stash a snack somewhere or find a break in your schedule to grab a quick bite. However, there may be a rare moment when the event staff will ask you to sit. Take full advantage of these times as you’ll be enjoying food from some of the best chefs in the world.

5. Relax and enjoy. While working such a large-scale event can be stressful and daunting at times, it’s important to take time to relax and enjoy all the hard work you’ve put in to make it a success. After all, where else can you find world-renowned chefs and sommeliers from across the globe in the same city at the same time? Only in Vegas, baby!
-Taylor Fisher

Goodbye to a Legend.

Jackie Gaughan in front of his El Cortez Hotel/Casino

During my second week of work at Kirvin Doak in October 2008, my boss at the time – the still-missed Kimberly ‘Jude’ Juday – asked me to write a press release for Jackie Gaughan receiving a key to the city.

“Who?,” was my reply.

“Google him,” was Jude’s response (entry-level lesson #1: Google before asking!).

So to Google I went, and the next hour was spent learning about one of the most profoundly interesting people I’ve had the pleasure of working with in my five-and-a-half years living and working in Las Vegas. I’d take the information I learned about the pioneering casino owner in that first hour of research, as well as the stories about Mr. Gaughan I’d hear in the following years from the one-of-a-kind executive team at Mr. Gaughan’s beloved El Cortez, and often try to express his legacy to the reporters with whom I was discussing the historic downtown casino.

“Did you know legendary casino owner Jackie Gaughan still lives there? He’s retired but still plays poker with the customers every day.”

“Oh, you don’t know Jackie’s story! Let me give you a little background on this guy. He’s a Vegas icon, a pioneer!”

I had this conversation dozens of times and once a reporter’s interest was piqued in Mr. Gaughan, I could always depend on Mike Nolan, El Cortez’s general manager; or Kenny Epstein, El Cortez’s owner; or Alex Epstein, El Cortez’s executive vice president, to share a truly touching, often funny, story of Jackie’s legacy and his impact on their lives. The devotion and affection the El Cortez executives have for Mr. Gaughan always came through, and their stories always hit home in sharing how much this amazing man meant to the history of Las Vegas and legacy of El Cortez.

Once Mr. Gaughan retired from the casino game for good in the mid-2000s, he still continued to live in El Cortez’s penthouse apartment. It was his favorite of all the casinos he owned over the years, and the current ownership wouldn’t have had it any other way. Jackie was family and the El Cortez takes care of family. This is why they are a unique gem in the Las Vegas casino industry and why the historic property continues to have devoted customers to this day. Devotion to the customers and your staff was a legacy Mr. Gaughan started on day one and it’s this legacy that lives on at El Cortez.

This week, Las Vegas lost its last living Founding Father in Mr. Gaughan, who passed away on Wednesday morning. I only knew him through those stories the El Cortez execs would share or by seeing him playing poker every time I visited the casino. But realizing the accomplishments of this legendary (and I use that word in every sense of its definition) businessman, family man and Las Vegas advocate, made me excited to share his story every single time.

So if you’ve read this far, do me a favor. Do what I did back in 2008. Google: ‘Jackie Gaughan.’ Odds, and Mr. Gaughan loved odds, are favorable you may just be inspired and learn something, wait for it…legendary.

Matt Guidish is a senior account executive at Kirvin Doak.

*Image credit: Las Vegas News Bureau.


Time flies when you’re having fun

One week ago I got to celebrate my one-year anniversary here at Kirvin Doak. It’s been a whirlwind of a year, filled with both ups and downs but mostly ups.

Right before I was asked to join the KDC team, I was most definitely at the low of lows. Feeling defeated, I thought my worst nightmare was about to come true and I was going to have to pack my bags, head back to New Mexico and reevaluate what it was I was going to do with my life. But its true what they say about the darkest hour being just before the dawn and just when I was about to lose all hope I started the interview process with Alison and knew I was just what they were looking for.

Working with Team Oontz has been quite the adventure. It’s also been a learning process.

Coming from the journalistic side of mass media, I thought PR would come easy. My thought was that I’d been on the other side and would know what journalists were looking for in a pitch or story angle but that wasn’t necessarily the case. The first lesson I learned was that getting the journalist to even acknowledge your email or answer the phone can be a challenge in itself. But perseverance can definitely pay off in the PR world and I landed my first national hit with USA Today for Vegas.com within my first three months at KDC.

Another lesson I’ve learned in my first year is that getting face time with just about anyone is key. Whether it is reporters, photographers, event planners, community members or fellow PR leaders, the more you put yourself out there the better. You never know what kind of project a client will throw at you, so that one photographer you met at that one anniversary party who knows the owner of that one venue, just might come in handy somewhere down the line.

One of the highlights of my first year with KDC was most definitely getting the opportunity to work my first Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC). EDC will always have a special place in my heart because it is a place where dreams are realized and being here at Kirvin Doak is proof that dreams come true.

From media check-in at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to the early morning hours at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Team Oontz guided me through my first year working EDC. Meeting the journalists and bloggers we regularly work with, seeing the festival come to life and knowing that we were a part of making it happen is indescribable and completely fulfilling.

In the coming year, I’m really looking forward to pushing myself to reach my full potential. I’m at a point where I feel comfortable taking on bigger and better challenges and I can’t wait to see how I can grow and develop even more success for KDC and my clients.

Ashley Trevizo