Meet Michelle Keene
We recently celebrated Michelle’s five year work anniversary at Calhoun & Company. Michelle started as a part-time Account Coordinator filing magazines and combing through databases. Five years later, she is one of our best Account Directors. Her first ever clip as an Account Director was in Sports Illustrated…huge win! She has managed clients from all over the world and she never turns down the opportunity to learn about a new place.
We are often amazed at Michelle’s ability to accomplish so much. When she is not working hard at her desk she is juggling the schedules of her four kids—driving them to dentist appointments, making quiches for French class and throwing class parties. In her spare time (seriously, we don’t know how she has any!), we convinced Michelle to write this blog post so that everyone could learn more about her and what makes her so fabulous!
How did you get interested in wine?
During a year spent studying in Bologna, Italy where I drank fabulous Lambrusco most nights that I wasn’t studying–yes, good Lambrusco does exist! Italy has 350 classified grape varieties which make for a never-ending journey of discovering new wines.
What did you do before you started working at Calhoun & Company?
I had a career in international relations in Washington, DC managing environmental management projects for The World Bank and the US Environmental Protection Agency. I spent a lot of time in Central and Eastern Europe and South America. I loved traveling the world and helping people improve their quality of life.
What is your favorite moment in the last five years?
There have been many, but certainly my first clip, a placement in Sports Illustrated! I still have the magazine issue. I also enjoyed traveling to Porto and the Douro, Portugal this year. My trip to Portugal made all of the fabulous wines from the Symington Family Estates portfolio come alive. I live for visiting new wine regions. There is something magical about drinking a wine where it is born and gaining a strong connection between its people and place.
What is most challenging for wine public relations?
Keeping up with all the new outlets and writers, especially the blogs and social platforms and being able to discern which ones to focus on.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Getting to know a client’s wine, the stories that set them apart and relaying these to media in a compelling way.
What advice would you give someone just starting out in PR?
Learn who is active in your industry—which outlets, which writers, which influencers and look for opportunities with them.
What do you do in your free time?
What free time?! I love to travel, especially with my family. We try to go back to Italy every other year and explore a new wine region. I also love hiking along our beautiful coast—seeing the water each day relaxes me and at the same time energizes me for the day ahead.
How do you balance being a mom and working full-time?
By drinking lots of very good wine and hoping that one of my kids becomes a winemaker! Seriously, everyone has 24 hours in a day, I am constantly looking for efficiencies. One of my favorite mantras is that half of life is showing up.
What is your go-to dish to serve at a dinner party?
Anything Italian! This time of year I love making butternut squash and sage lasagna. My husband, Mark, eats a paleo diet, so I am always trying to come up with great recipes that he can eat. One easy dish for a paleo crowd is Bistecca alla Fiorentina and a gorgeous salad that reflects the season such as arugula and peaches in the summer and chicory and pears in the winter.
What is your favorite type of wine?
I love the interesting mineral-driven whites from Italy and for reds, earthy Aglianico from the volcanic soils of Campania.