Question: Give us a background on you and Resplendent Hospitality.
Resplendent Hospitality is a women-owned, full-service PR, marketing and digital agency based in Austin, Texas and Northwest Arkansas. We’re dedicated to tell our clients’ stories authentically and are an agency comprised of creative marketers and storytellers whose job is to promote the brands we dig. We work with a niche group of clients, including those in the following industries: hospitality, food, beverage, consumer packaged goods, cannabis, travel, tourism and lifestyle.
Resplendent was founded in 2012 by partners and co-founders Ali Slutsky and Mary Mickel. Mary and Ali have over 25 years of hospitality and communications experience combined. We support clients through traditional PR methods, social media and marketing as well as non-traditional PR methods like event programming and production, photography and websites.
Resplendent is a value-driven company. We dedicate our time, talent and reach to amplify voices. Beyond our portfolio of client work, we also champion causes that speak to our core values. As a company we believe feminism is for everyone, Black lives matter, LGBTQIA Rights are Human Rights, Mental Health is important, no one should go hungry, and everyone should have equal access to vote.
Question: It’s no secret that COVID-19 hit the hospitality industry hard. How have you helped your clients adapt and overcome the challenges presented by the pandemic?
The pandemic hit the hospitality hard. With such uncertainty, each day was a constant pivot in the beginning. As a company that largely supports bars and restaurants, we knew we wanted to do anything and everything in our power to support our clients and the hospitality industry.
We worked with each client to develop a plan that worked best for them. Be that a proactive statement about COVID-19 cases on their team (in the likely event that someone would contract the virus), helping communicate mask policies or dine-in and carryout strategy. We developed best practices for our clients’ teams to communicate with customers – consistent messaging, touch-free menus and ways to keep guests informed of constantly evolving hours. One of the key things we did during this time was to stay abreast of the current mandates in our clients’ states and cities. We gave clients a daily briefing of current COVID-19 cases in their area and kept on top of messaging for policies in the store.
A crucial thing we did, and will continue to do to help our clients, was to stay up-to-date on government funding and support. We wanted to ensure all restaurant and bar clients knew about and were able to access, every piece of government money they could get their hands on. The Independent Restaurant Coalition turned restaurant pain into emotional storytelling to lobby Congress in early 2021 and insert the provision for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund into the American Rescue Plan, which was huge for both our clients and the hospitality industry as a whole.
Question: How do you use your voice and expertise for good?
We believe that PR professionals have a skillset that can be put to use to help others. As a company, we partner with nonprofits to help them with their PR and messaging strategies, social media and websites.
We partnered with the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center to create a social media campaign to encourage Arkansans to wear masks called #MaskUpArkansas, which began as a grassroots campaign. It has since been picked up by Arkansas media as a larger effort to get Arkansans wearing masks when the state did not mandate mask-wearing.
We also recognize that our Instagram, Resplendagram, is an effective platform to help others. During the height of the pandemic, we used it to update Arkansas and Texas residents about both state’s active and current COVID-19 cases. We regularly share resources for the hospitality industry to find funding and legislative victories that help the industry. When winter storm Uri hit Austin in early 2021 we posted ways to help those in need in Austin.
Question: What is it like to be women founders in the business world?
I think being a founder/owner/operator of a business (whatever sex you identify as) is incredibly challenging. Especially the past 14 months. Not only are a small group of individuals relying on you for their livelihoods, but having your name attached to an organization motivates you to do really good work. It is of great importance to Ali and I to seek out individuals who are both more experienced and wiser than we to help guide us through good times and bad. Whether that is through financial, leadership or company culture coaching, we are always striving to learn more. And of course, being women, we must jump through more hoops and have more hurdles to face than men simply because women in the workforce have fewer advantages than men historically. Facts you can’t really argue.
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