Chronicling the highs, lows, quips, quotes, comings and goings of Washington, D.C. spokesguys and spokesgals

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

DC Flack Profile: Carrie Foster, Linda Roth Associates

We're kicking off a new series of regular profiles of flacks from around town - PR firms, the Hill, associations, Administration, and companies. Today's inaugural profilee is Carrie Foster (left, with Executive Chef Robert Wiedmaier of Marcel's), Publicist & Vice President of Linda Roth Associates, one of DC's best-known restaurant and hospitality PR firms.

Portsmouth, VA

How long have you been in your current position? 4.5 years at LRA and 2.5 years holding the VP title.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grow up?
My aspirations evolved from the drummer of The Bangles to a television reporter in a few short years.

Where did you fall in your family’s birth order (i.e., eldest child, middle child)?
The Golden Child – i.e. the second and youngest child. My older sister may disagree with the title.

What college did you go to and what was your major?
Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC; Politics and Communications double major. Shock that I ended up in Washington.

Did you ever work on the Hill? If so, for whom?
Yes, I deem it my “Grad School.” I was Press Secretary for (now Senator) Richard Burr (NC) for 2.5 years on the House side.

The nerdiest thing you ever did as a kid was…
Ouch - I attended Math Camp at University of Virginia for two summers. Indeed, I got my thrills from solving word problems on a hot summer day. The whole “genius child” phase came to an abrupt halt when calculus entered the equation. (and my talent for puns flourished– “equation?” Anyone?)

What was your very first job?
My years as a camp counselor/riflery instructor and waitress in college outstanding, my first job was a paid internship at Fleishman-Hillard (Washington, DC) office, specifically for the WorldSpace and XM Satellite Radio accounts. Yes, I included the riflery note to intimidate the press.

Biggest vice (PG-rated):
My biggest vice: my slight obsession with pirates (sept. 19 – Talk Like a Pirate Day – I consider it a holiday.)

When did you first think you might want to get into PR?
I somewhat bumped into the PR business – let’s call it natural selection! I’ve always been lauded by professors and teachers as a succinct and creative writer, and even through the nerdy math phase I was outgoing. I excitedly enrolled in a broadcast journalism class in college, where I received low marks for excessive smiling and laughter – what can I say, I am a happy gal! - but I excelled in story development. I stuck to improving my writing and found that in PR, I could combine my relationship-building talents, writing skills and most importantly, daily use of creativity.

Which print publications do you subscribe to at home?
The New Yorker, Capitol File, Washingtonian – we have multiple lifestyle and hard news subscriptions in the office that satiate my need to read.

Who taught you what you know about doing PR?
In my p.o.v., there are 4 necessary skills to be successful in public relations – networking, creativity, resourcefulness and excellent writing/communication. They can’t be taught – they are innate qualities - they can only be improved upon and structured. Therefore, from cutting the perfect media clip to rolling out a brand campaign, I’ve learned so much from Adam Anthony, Dom Morea & Mia Masten at Fleishman; Jan Hausrath, Maggie Fitzpatrick & BJay Cooper at APCO; John Versaggi (my CoS) in Burr’s office; of course, the social butterfly Linda Roth and other hospitality industry masterflacks: Colleen Evans (Marriott), Sarah Greenberg (FGPR in NYC), Sara Taylor (Allied). And of course the reporters, producers and assignment editors have taught me more than they’ll ever realize. (insert orchestra music here…roll to commercial)

Who is the wittiest reporter you know?
Hank Steuver at Washington Post – my kind of humor. Bitingly sarcastic, quick-witted and dry.

What’s the best attention-getting gimmick you’ve ever pulled off?
The Presidential Doughnut Poll, day 3 of the 7 day celebration/opening of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts in Dupont Circle in August 2004, “Kerry” and “Bush” campaigned on segways with KK coupons while visitors voted by buying blue-sprinkled or red-sprinkled doughnuts as we tallied the votes. Polling Firms provided pun-heavy quotes, lobbyists sent interns to “stuff the ballot” by the sweet dozens…and CNN, two local crews and all the political rags covered it.

Over your career, what are the most obscure policy issues that you’ve had to beef up on in order to field media inquiries? None stand-out as obscure, which means I’ve lived in DC for too long. In my foray into lifestyle/hospitality PR, I recall insanely obscure pitches. i.e. promoting the visit of Flumpa the Frog character at the National Aquarium. The media never ignores a restaurant opening. Never.

What’s the biggest on-the-job screw up you’ve had that you can laugh about now?
Hmm. Tough question. I’m an easygoing person generally and laugh at other people’s misfortune all too often. But I’m very hard on myself. There are few screw-ups I ever laugh about.

What advice would you give to people wanting to advance in PR?
Never chew gum. Work on being well-spoken – It separates the women from the girls. Force yourself to cut out verbal fillers – i.e.”like, you know, I mean, um” out of pitches and work-related conversation…ideally out of everyday conversation but even at 30 I find that a challenge. In PR, you can never act solely by example, because everyone has their personal charm, their own style of relationship building and what works for them may not come naturally to you. Be yourself!! …and be proactive. Trial by fire may burn you in the short term but the remedy provides the opportunity to learn for the long term.

On the weekends you can be found…
…at weddings. Walking through Eastern Market and running errands on the Hill (my neighborhood), driving to the beach, attending/hosting an event or enjoying one I’ve helped to plan – its in my blood - catching up on R&R…

Favorite vacation spot:
The Beach –Nags Head, NC, where my family has a home or sailing in the British Virgin Islands. I’m beefing up my travel/tourism PR portfolio with full intentions to promote a luxury resort in the Caribbean one day…Richard Branson, are you listening?

If you weren’t in PR, you’d probably be…
In shape (many of our clients are restaurants, bakeries, etc.) I jest. I imagine I’d be an aspiring journalist, writer or producer.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Carrie,

I'm a 16 year old wannabe publicist and your inspiration has only fueled my aspiration to become a leading PR and Publicist. I would love the opportunity to work and learn from you. If this was an opportunity then please get in touch with me at

Dabney. xx

9/20/2006 12:19:00 AM

Anonymous ohiomisfit said...

If you ever get tired of what you're doing, You can always do PR for me.
John G.

9/21/2006 12:56:00 AM

Anonymous A former Rangers,Blue Jays,A's fan said...

And to think I have known this young woman for her whole 30 years from Portsmouth to DC. Never knew she could fire a rifle (kind of scared me there for a minute and I am not in the media) and was considered the "Golden Child" .. Yes she will have a problem with that! Its great to see a smile on your face and hearing it in your interview here Carrie , keep up the good work and inspire as many young people as you can. I'm proud to call you a cousin. :)

Still want to sing "Grease" with us??? Talk about something to be embarassed about.

If you want to know which of your many cousins this is write me back sometime , it would be nice to see you since we live so close. :)

9/21/2006 10:55:00 AM

Blogger Meg Moss said...

Spooooo!! Carrie, you rock! For those of you who don't addition to all her other atalents, Carrie is a ROCK STAR DANCER!!

9/21/2006 08:32:00 PM


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