She’s spent her career in front of the camera, interviewing people, telling their stories, and being the bright face that the Jefferson City / Columbia community woke up to each day on the morning news. Today, we’re turning the tables and interviewing the wonderful Stephanie Hirata! The newest addition to the Kolbeco team, Stephanie brings her natural journalistic curiosity to dig out what really matters to clients, lend her creative storytelling talents to craft their tales, and build client confidence in all she does. She’s insightful. She’s a joy to work with. She seeks excellence in all she does. And, of course, she has a beautiful dog named Ella who also now spends her days at Kolbeco. We’re pleased to introduce you to … drum roll, please …Stephanie Hirata!
Q:What attracted you to Kolbeco?
A:We were introduced by our mutual friend, Mike McNamara, when I began thinking about making the switch to PR. When we first met, we weren’t talking about a specific job opportunity. My goal was to learn more about PR and how it might be a fit for me. We got to know each other better, and Lauren reached out to begin our discussions about the possibility of me joining the team. As we continued our conversations, I was really attracted to the energy here. It’s a smaller firm, and a very close-knit and supportive team. It’s easy to talk to everyone here. I also loved how dedicated everyone is to clients. It’s like a family not just in the office, but with clients too. You can tell how much Kolbeco cares about people.
Q:What inspires you to work with clients, what have you learned from clients?
A:I love working with clients, learning what their goals are and what they’re hoping to accomplish. I come from a different point of view, and my perspective allows me to bring fresh ideas to the table. Our clients tend to be excited about what they’re doing, and open to ideas. They have the trust in Kolbeco and the inherent ability to be flexible in their approach to allow for new ideas. I also think that my perspective and experience as a reporter reassures clients and help builds trust. So far, I’ve had great experiences with everyone.
One thing I’ve learned is that PR does work somewhat differently than media. With news, everything is done so fast and schedules are so tight. I didn’t understand all of the preparation that must happen on the client side when I was a reporter. I now see it and appreciate it.
Q:What is one Kolbeco project you’re extremely proud of and would like to showcase?
A:One of my first video projects here was for our client, Antennas Direct. One of their products was recently named the #1 Indoor Antenna by Wirecutter, so we created a video to celebrate the occasion. I’m proud of this for multiple reasons. It was the first project we did using our new 4K cameras, which was so much fun. It was also the first time my teammate Addi and I worked in collaboration on a shoot. It was great because we both bring different perspectives that come together in the finished product . Even before the shoot, Scott, Addi and I did a lot of brainstorming to develop creative and fun ideas to present the content. We decided to mark the celebration with confetti, which was pretty and appealing, and fun, in video. Seeing it all come together was huge. The client was open to our ideas and ready to make everything happen.
Q:Secret skill or talent? Share with the class.
A:I have many secret skills, many of which I developed because my mom always encouraged my brother and me to try new things. I took piano lessons for 13 years, although I don’t get the opportunity to play much these days because so few people have pianos. I was also in a bowling league with my brother when we were little. We even won trophies! I also started ice skating at an early age, and I love doing that to this day. I’m looking forward to finding places in St. Louis to skate this winter
Q:The best advice you’ve ever received was:
A:My parents always encouraged us to live by the following:
“Successful people make a habit of doing what people find uncomfortable to do.”
That has really stuck with me over the years. I was really shy when I was little. If we went anywhere, I wouldn’t talk to anyone and was glued to my mom. Later in life, I’d be nervous to perform for piano or dance. So my father shared this quote with me. I’d recall it any time I was nervous to go for an audition, performance or interview. I would tell myself to step out my comfort zone because it’s more rewarding. If you want to be the best at something you have to color outside the lines and go for it, even if it is super scary.
Q:The secret to YOUR happiness is:
A:Taking the time to be present and do things that make me happy. This sounds obvious but a lot of times we get so wrapped up in work and ambitions that we forget to do the simple things that make us happy. The other day I took out my coloring book and started coloring. That simple act made me happy. We convince ourselves that we don’t have enough time to do these things, and that’s just not true. It’s important to remember what makes us happy and set aside the time for it.
Q:What would be your superpower?
A:Teleportation. I love traveling but it takes so long to get to the places I want to go. I would love to be able to pop in at home to see my family in New Jersey, or visit a different country. There are so many places I want to see, and so many things I want to do. Teleportation would help me reach these places!
Q:What did you want to be growing up?
A:I wanted to be a TV news anchor since I was 8 years old. I wanted to be the voice for people and share their stories, especially for those who needed a voice. When I got there, it felt amazing. All the sacrifices and all I worked hard for was worth it. I enjoyed my time on the air, met many really great people, and learned a lot. I achieved my dream, but today I have new dreams!
Q:What song is currently on repeat in your head, car, Spotify, etc.?
A:I typically listen to the top hits, anything with a beat that I can dance to. I got my love of dance music from my mom, who used to DJ at Hong Kong hotels when she was in her early 20s. She’s a lot of fun, and she and I have actually been clubbing together. I like to think I can dance, but my mom can really dance! I strive to be a good dancer like her.
Q:What’s something we don’t know about you?
A:You know I was dedicated to becoming a reporter when I chose to go to Iowa over a trip to Paris to attend a broadcast workshop when I was in high school! I was one of only 15 students chosen for the program. I was also an anchor for my high school television station my junior and senior year. That’s where my experience on television began, and I learned more about working with people and being on camera.
Q:What’s your guilty pleasure (food, activity, song)?
A:I like to snack, specifically on potato chips. They were a special treat when I was a kid, so we didn’t get to eat them often. Now I crave chips.
Q:What do you need for survival?
A:Ella. Water. Food.
Q:What was the last TV show you binged?
A:I watch Friends all the time. It’s one of those light-hearted shows, that I just love.
Q:Describe your dream vacation (and you’re not paying for it?):
A:I’d like to be somewhere with a beach. I have nothing to do and a tropical drink in my hand. The weather is beautiful, with plenty of sunshine and warm air.
Q:What gets you pumped up?
A:New projects. I love that feeling of the beginning of a new project when you’re hashing out all the ideas and not worrying about if it makes sense or if your ideas are doable. You’re putting everything on the table to try to accomplish a goal and put together a creative plan of action. I feel even more pumped when everyone is pumped.
Q:First CD you remember purchasing:
A:My dad bought me the Savage Garden CD that had the song Truly Madly Deeply on it. I’m pretty sure that was the first CD I had. Other early CDs in my collection were Selena, then Back Street Boys, N Sync, and Christine Aguilera.
A:Different shades of blue. And I wear black a lot.
Q:You’re going on a shopping spree, where can we find you?
A:The Apple Store or a camera store. Wherever I can buy tech stuff.
Q:If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?
A:I would want to be a wolf. I love many things about wolves. As pack animals, they care a lot about family They also understand that there’s strength in numbers, but they are also strong individually.
Q:It’s a Saturday. Where can we find you?
A:My weekends usually feature some dog related event or activity. For example, this past Saturday we were at Arch Bark where Ella won first place in the photo contest!
A:A cold beer. That sounds really good right now.
Q:Proudest accomplishment OUTSIDE of Kolbeco?
A:Family. I am proud of how close we are and really lucky to have such a strong support system. We are able to stick together and support each other through thick and thin. We do group chats to stay connected, and when we have challenges, we do a lot of collaboration and brainstorming to develop solutions. I am far away from my family, but I still feel very connected. And, Ella is my family too. I am a proud dog mom!
Q:Dogs in the office, thoughts?
A:Oh hell yes! I love it! Everyone is so jealous that I get to bring Ella to work. My mom jokes about it every day and asks if she is working hard. I think more companies should allow dogs in the office. Studies show that dogs can be therapeutic.
So now you know why we think Stephanie is so amazing, and why we all want to go out dancing with her and her mom someday. She can tell a story like nobody’s business, and inspire happiness in all she does. Welcome to the team, Stephanie!