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 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

Barbie, I’ve got your back.

A career in PR means always keeping your nose in the news. Seeing what’s new, what’s trending, and what opportunities are out there for your clients or company. Recently, I can’t seem to escape online sites, the nightly broadcast news or even social media without seeing a story slamming Barbie dolls. The latest post I saw noted a recent study revealed that girls who played with Barbies didn’t feel they had as many career options as boys.

Confession time: I played with Barbies until I was 12. And even then, sometimes, my best friend and I would still dig them out on weekends when we were bored at 13. I know, I know, NERD ALERT. But I LOVED them. I loved escaping into a world of scenarios that I could create, changing directions at a moment’s notice, and it even helped me to play out different things that were happening in my own life at the time.

They never made me feel that I couldn’t have a variety of jobs because I made them have whatever profession I wanted at the moment… A mom, the President of the United States, a swimming coach at Notre Dame, a chiropractor, Paula Abdul… I had a lot of aspirations growing up!

Playing with Barbies never made me doubt my confidence to be a successful professional. That’s probably the one area I have never had uncertainties.

My Barbie’s never made me feel self-conscious of how my body looked. That was the boys who called me chubby when I started to develop curves. And I’m pretty sure the dolls didn’t have anything to do with that.

If little girls are growing up feeling less than confident about any of these areas, it’s up to their mothers, grandmothers, teachers, coaches, female role models and mentors to educate them otherwise. To talk to them, and to lead by example. Show that the impossible can be reached, and IS reached every day by women. It’s not the dolls telling them otherwise.

Alison Monaghan  Alison with her first doll house built by her grandfather for Christmas.



Playing Cupid at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada

It’s no secret that the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada are near and dear to most of us at Kirvin Doak. I, myself, have participated in the annual Girls Day event the past three years, and it’s always an incredible experience to spend the day with a local girl and just hang out with her doing fun activities. Plus, I have younger siblings back in Cincinnati who I miss basically every day, so it helps to interact with someone their age every once in a while.

On Valentine’s Day, I attended one of the club’s events through their Club Blue program with my colleague Wendy, where a group of 20/30-somethings received a tour of the Jackie Gaughan Clubhouse near the UNLV campus. Following a catered lunch, we paired up with one of the club members to create a Valentine’s Day craft. The young girl who I was sitting next to at lunch was named Mary and she was the same age as my youngest brother, Brady. Just like Brady, she was clearly the comic-relief in the family, a bright spirit and quick with her jokes.

The girl was a charmer. And she knew how to play her cards, as I quickly learned that she not only had one boyfriend, but two. The next hour I spent helping her make a special Valentine for one of the lucky fellas (who was also a club member) and when we finished, we left it in his cube for him to find from his “secret admirer.”

I remember leaving the club with my heart feeling so full. I loved spending time getting to know Mary and listen to her banter back and forth with her sister. It reminded me of home and being around my little brothers, but it also reminded me of those silly crushes you had back in grade school. We all had them. Chasing each other around the playground during recess and secretly holding hands when you thought the teacher wasn’t looking. And those pesky little devils, cooties. Weren’t those the worst?!

I know technically that New Year’s resolutions should have probably been made over two months ago, but don’t they always say there’s no time like the present? Well, I fully intend on getting involved even more with the clubs this year and going back to the Jackie Gaughan club soon to find out whether Cupid hit his target with little Mary.

Until next time,

Shandi Huber

Legos, Building Blocks for A Successful PR Campaign?

lego imagesThe timeliness of this post is a little off with the smash Lego Movie premiere a few weeks behind us, but this recent Mashable article on a forthcoming Simpsons Lego set got me thinking about my favorite childhood toy and my current career.

What I loved so much about Legos were the endless possibilities upon receiving a new set. Sure, you’d follow the instructions and build the intended design to get things started. And sure, that design, maybe it was a pirate ship, medieval castle, or a spacecraft, was a beautiful work of plastic architecture. But after two or three weeks of playing ever so cautiously with that initial design to avoid destroying your hard work, your mind would start to see those individual Lego pieces as part of a broader and newly concocted design, created solely in the recesses of your imagination. That’s when the fun really started.

What if I took a few of these pieces from the pirate ship and put them together with, say, a few of these pieces from the spacecraft? And hey, Chewbacca from that Star Wars set looks like he wants to join some medieval knights for a joust on this newly built, floating interstellar castle. But wait, the interstellar joust event is now being attacked by Batman on a horse and his motorcycle gang. (I can only assume George R.R. Martin just plays around with ridiculous Lego storyboards like this one before he starts writing a new Game of Thrones book and kills off our favorite characters.) Anyway, Legos were, and still are, so amazing because of what they enable kids to create and execute from nothing.

I write this not to subject you to my awesome memories of childhood leisure but as a reflection of that time spent building my imaginary adventures and how those playtime hours set an early foundation for my current work in PR.

So often we place a premium on creating PR plans for our clients to open a new restaurant, announce the latest band lineup or do any of the myriad awesomeness KDC has the honor of representing in this city.  These initial plans will generally pay off in amazing results for our clients whether it’s through increased business and revenues, that front-page exposure they wanted or a direct channel to new customers through an increased social media following. We will look at these results proudly for a week or two because the execution of a great design is something to celebrate. But then, and this is what I think is the fun part, it’s time to tear those plans apart and piece together your floating interstellar castle to continue generating new, creative results for your clients. How great is that?!

This is what makes a creative career path so appealing. We have the ability to take items that have worked for one campaign, items that have never been tried before, or even items that may have failed in previous campaigns and put them all together to build our latest creation or idea – with approval of all our clients reading this, of course. I used to love doing this exact thing with Legos in my bedroom and the fact I get to practice this same basic concept on a daily basis as an adult is a pretty solid.

So while the various building blocks may have changed from plastic to everyday PR practices, if you happen to walk past my office and see me pounding away on my keyboard, odds are strong I’m still just trying to imagine how to put Chewbacca together with a horse-riding Batman and have it result in a front-page story for my client.

Matt Guidish is a Senior Account Executive at KDC




Stone and Glass

Walking into the foyer of the new KDC office you are met with stone and glass.  The stone entry is the foundation and the glass walls looks to the future.  After 160 days of planning, coordination and construction the KDC Foyer side viewdream became a reality.

This will be the third office move that I have been involved with while working at Kirvin Doak. These moves were not easy, but this one by far had to be the most demanding.   After  the initial decision to obtain the building to the floor plans, data, electrical, millwork,  a lot of Google searches for construction jargon, many bumps and bruises it was also by far the best and most rewarding. 

With Candice LaSpina, our office manager’s attention to detail, James Ash’s technical assistance and a get it done attitude – the perfect team was formed.  Special thanks to all work that was done by Bill and Dave behind the scenes and especially for their patience during the process.   The entire office was moved on a Friday and it was business as usual on Monday morning.

This building like a child could not be raised on its own.  A heartfelt thank you and props need to be given to the entire office staff for their hand in making it all possible.  They did all of their own packing, labeling, unpacking and making due with limited resources without breaking stride.  We took the puzzle apart and put it back together in record time.

The new office is beautiful and a testament to the hard work that has gone into the business of Kirvin Doak Communication and the good things to come.

−Robin Sotelo

Nelson Mandela: World Changing PR

Once in a generation, a transcendent figure is divinely put in the right place at the right time and goes on to change the course of history for the better. On December 5, 2013, one of those figures passed away: Nelson Mandela. Why am I writing about this for a PR blog?

Other than the laundry list of his life lessons that have affected my attitude towards life, Nelson Mandela was one of the greatest and most influential public relations talents of all time.

From 1948-1994, South Africa suffered through Apartheid, a period of extreme racism and infringements on personal liberties towards the black population. People were imprisoned for political beliefs, marrying someone of a different race, even a Group Area Act that restricted where people could live depending on race. I have visited the overcrowded townships the black race was subjugated to, and nothing has made me appreciate more the privileged life I was given.

Apartheid ended in 1994 with a multi-racial democratic election that was won by Nelson Mandela – who had been locked away for 27 years. FYI – in the 1960s, Mandela was the leader of a violent revolutionary group.

Most expected him to rule with a fiery vengeance for the wrong that had been done to him and his people.

However, Mandela’s surreal foresight understood that the equality that he long struggled for would be unfeasible if he fed into any of the division and hatred that was rapidly spreading throughout the torn nation.

Mandela implemented incredible public relations tactics towards a seemingly impossible task: to mend decades of hatred between two races.

He took a previous symbol of white supremacy – the South African Springboks rugby team – and transformed it into a colorless identity for the nation. This was done through a savvy campaign “One team, one country” that was publicized throughout the country during the 1995 Rugby World Cup, which was hosted in South Africa.

Mandela used a form of celebrity endorsement, himself, when he often wore Springbok jerseys – a previously unthinkable action for any black person in South Africa. His advocacy for the team drastically changed public perception of the Springboks. All of a sudden, black people cheering for a predominately white team changed the entire conversation (see Jackie Robinson, with the races reversed).

Mandela did benefit from the undeniably greatest and most unpredictable tool in sports public relations: winning. The South African team defied all odds with upset after upset and eventually won the World Cup title that year.

For the first time in history, the nation as a whole had something to be proud of – and that was in large part due to Mandela’s public relations efforts.

South Africa still has a long battle ahead of them, but if it wasn’t for Mandela publicizing peace, instead of hate, when he was released from prison – it is likely South Africa would have fallen to the bloodshed and massacre that has consumed many other African nations.

Mandela’s incredible understanding of public perception and keen use of PR skills – changed the world for the better. Something which we can all hope to aspire for in our own lives.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela

 Nelson Mandela

Photo Credit: Walter Dhladhla / AFP – Getty Images, NBC News, Nelson Mandela A Revolutionary Life

˜Robert Flicker

Fest Friends are the Best Friends

David Guetta just wrapped a hyped-up set in the Sahara tent, complete with laser bearing robots, when we decided to head to the Ferris wheel near the Coachella stage for Tiesto, We had a good hour or so to spare, so the thought of a line meant nothing to us and we were free to take in the sights and sounds of Coachella from the weaving maze of metal barriers leading up to the ride.

While we were waiting in line I noticed a couple of boys behind us who looked like a lot of fun. They were laughing, singing, dancing and I just thought whoa, I should know those guys.

I introduced myself and led them to where my friend Carlos was in line to continue the conversation as a group.

Who are you here to see?

Who’s been your favorite today?

Did you see Deadmau5? Passion Pit? Kasakde?

The little questions we asked lead us to the top of the Ferris wheel line with a flowing conversation. We decided to hop in a carriage together for the ride then spent the rest of the night talking and dancing in the middle of the Empire Polo Field to Tiesto.

Fast forward three years and those boys are still some of my best friends. We’ve gone to numerous shows and festivals together since and I’ve flown from New Mexico to California just to visit them. A friendship built off of a few questions to find a common ground.

One thing that’s been fun to explore these past eight months at KDC is learning how to develop my networking skills. Looking back, making friends at festivals was and is a great way for me to practice networking.

Working at KDC, I’ve had the opportunity to staff and attend a handful of events around the city. Being able to strike up a conversation at these gatherings is not only important but also absolutely necessary.  It’s a skill I can practice every day and one that will come in handy when I have to introduce myself to new contacts while out and about.

I’m excited to find different ways to create bonds and relationships with the Las Vegas community. I think it’s important for me to remember making connections in the real world isn’t much different than it is in the festival world.  Smile, ask a round of questions, find a common interest and the opportunity will flourish.


Keeping up with the Kardashians

Since moving to Las Vegas, I have learned the many reasons why this city is the entertainment capitol of the world. Whether it’s going to one of the many shows on the Strip, listening to headlining DJs at nightclubs and dayclubs, or coming face-to-face with celebrities, I’ve definitely taken full advantage of the many opportunities I have been given while living in the city that never sleeps. However, the most exciting thing that has happened to me thus far was being able to meet my favorite “dolls.”

 Kourtney Kardashian at Kardashian KhaosFor those of you who know me, you know that I most definitely keep up with the Kardashians. Over Labor Day Weekend, my dreams of meeting the reality stars came true when I found out that Kourtney Kardashian was making a special appearance at Kardashian Khaos in The Mirage. I arrived hours early to event to ensure that I would have the chance to meet one of the three leading ladies of the Kardashian empire. As it was my turn to have a one-on-one conversation and photo op with Kourtney, I was excited and thankful that I moved to this city that allowed me to meet my favorite Kardashian. As I assumed, Kourtney is as pretty, funny and sweet in person as she is on TV.Kim Kardashian's birthday at TAO

 My hopes of seeing the other Kardashian sisters also became reality this past Friday night when I went to TAO at The Venetian to celebrate Kim Kardashian’s 33rd birthday. Although I was not able to actually “meet” the girls, I was able to witness how truly happy Kim looked as she partied with her fiancée Kanye West and close family and friends including Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian, Kris Jenner, Scott Disick, Jonathan Cheban, Simon Huck and many more.

Considering it has only been five months since I moved to Las Vegas and I have already met / seen my favorite celebrities, I continue to look forward to the years ahead of me and the stars I will meet, see and work with. Here’s to hoping it’s the Kardashians again! ;)

 – Amanda Brophy


My New Tiger Friend

Luckily, KDC is full of veteran employees who know the amazing nonprofits around town. Because of that, I had the joy of helping the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada with its “Fun Day For Kids” event on Saturday, Oct. 19.

At the event, each adult is paired with a grade-school child as a mentor. The adults and kids have a couple hours to do fun activities together. My little girl, Alexia, was an absolute treat! The sassy schoolgirl knew right away she wanted to get her face painted. I suggested the typical small heart, flower or fall pumpkin, but those just didn’t cut it.

Instead, she said, “I want my whole face to look like a tiger. Do you think they’ll paint my whole face?”

I replied, “We’ll have to find out!”

So that conversation took us to the art room, where Alexia got her whole face painted like a tiger, resulting in several other kids requesting a “tiger face” – what a trendsetter! Following, we got a balloon hat animal shaped like a tiger, of course, found some vampire fangs to complete her look and then went into the gym for the end-of-the-day presentation. The event resulted in some awesome photos and great laughs. Alexia left that afternoon asking if we could be paired up again next year, and I can only hope so.

It’s amazing how much impact just a couple hours of fun can make for these kids. So if anyone is questioning whether to volunteer for any Boys & Girls Clubs events, I highly recommend you sign up. A few hours on a Saturday afternoon is definitely worth all the great memories.