Tiffany Guarnaccia: Founder, KITE HILL PR

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Tiffany Guarnaccia is the founder of KITE HILL PR. She has over a decade of media relations experience in both agency and in-house positions. Most recently she headed PR for The Huffington Post, where she launched the new streaming network HuffPost Live. Tiffany's experience in music tech includes in-house positions at eMusic and LimeWire, as spokesperson during the historic Arista Records v. LimeWire case. She started her career as a publicist for numerous online ad companies including Omnicom agencies. The KITE HILL team consists of industry vets and rising stars who share the company's high-touch approach to communications and public relations campaigns.

How did you get into the industry?

I had a passion for PR early on. I specialized in PR in college and started my career in-house at a growing online advertising business. Working there made me realize my passion for everything tech PR-related. Along the way, I’ve been on various in-house teams, including LimeWire, eMusic and, most recently, the Huffington Post. There, I was able to work underneath Arianna Huffington and launch HuffPost Live as well as some of our international editions. With so many exciting roles across various aspects of digital media, it would be hard for me not to be where I am now. Kite Hill has a fantastic reputation as a boutique agency that specializes in the ad tech, media and music industries. It has been a rewarding journey.

Any emerging industry trends?

Right now, we’re at a time where the PR industry is reinventing itself. PR professionals need different skill sets and to adopt different mindsets to succeed in today’s changing world of communications. The “reinvention of the industry” will be a trend that we’ll focus on during this year’s Communications Week’s as we look at innovation and change in the industry overall.

Today’s PR agencies look and act more like integrated communications agencies. Bigger firms are picking up more paid media budgets and embracing the PESO communications model.

Kite Hill’s perspective is to put earned media at the center of client campaigns, then amplify them through paid, owned and shared media. Influencer engagement is also something we’re incorporating into our campaigns.  

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

Every challenge is an opportunity to push forward, to try new things and innovate. The opportunities for Kite Hill PR in the marketplace are demonstrated by our 50 percent growth of both clients and staff year over year. There are opportunities for all types of agencies to hone in on niche industries and serve clients looking for deep insight. We’re building our portfolio and expertise in digital media, publishing and advertising.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

After years of working in different agency and in-house PR positions, and most recently serving underneath Arianna Huffington as The Huffington Post’s senior director of communications, I wanted to hone in on my interests and start off from scratch with my own team. I saw an opportunity to build a model where we offered the high-touch in-house approach. Kite Hill works with some of the top players in the marketing and tech sectors. We go beyond the earned media pitch in place to incorporate more strategy planning and internal and external communications as well as experiential marketing.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

Communications Week is continuing to grow as a week-long event series that highlights the most important trends in the industry.  At Kite Hill, we’re expanding the company. Just a few months ago, we expanded into the UK marketplace with the opening of our London office. Clients want us to create a seamless approach to international PR programs. A global approach is necessary as we get more connected as a society.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

We’ve taken a grassroots approach to building and leveraging communities for ourselves and for our clients – we founded Communications Week to create connections for the broader PR community and for those who are interested in PR. From a deeper community building perspective, we’ve leveraged the Meetup platform for our NY Ad Tech Group panels to demonstrate Kite Hill’s expertise in the ad tech and marketing industries. We’ve been able to bring together leaders from client accounts, as well as other ad tech aficionados, to discuss emerging trends in the industry and ultimately learn from one another.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

There will always be ups and downs. You’ve got to build a business to navigate through both smooth and rough waters.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

No company is the same, so no PR program should be the same. We form long-term relationships with clients to help to leverage PR to grow their brand and bottom-line. Kite Hill’s unique approach to the PESO media model is chiefly to benefit our clients. We start from a place of earned media and then amplify it to show a fully integrated approach to communications. This means advising clients to have a consistent approach to their communications program. 

How do you motivate others?

Employee engagement is at the top of my list. It’s important to invest in employees. They are your number one asset. I encourage employees to keep learning, challenge themselves and take on new projects. We try to be as flexible as possible to ensure the ever so needed work-life balance. We have a relatively flat structure, which means even our interns get hands-on work. We want interns to dive deep into client work, ranging from media relations to client-native content creation.

Career advice to those in your industry?

It comes back to innovation. You’ve always got to look toward the horizon and think about what is next for the industry. Never get stuck in feeling that you need to follow a traditional approach. The field of digital communications is always changing, which means we need to challenge ourselves as public relations professionals. PR agencies have been slow to take on new trends like content marketing when they should’ve been the first ones on board.