Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content BBB in Colorado Springs axes PR director Katie Carrol, outsources work

by WAYNE HEILMAN wayneh@gazette.com - Published: July 10, 2013

The Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado is eliminating its broadcasting operations, citing small audiences, and has outsourced its public relations operations to Blakely and Co., a Colorado Springs advertising and marketing firm.

As a result, the bureau axed its public relations and broadcasting director position and laid off Katie Carrol, who held the post for more than eight years and anchored the nonprofit's monthly television show and weekly radio show.

The move comes two months after Matt Barrett was hired to replace Carol Odell, who retired as CEO.

The layoff leaves the bureau with 18 employees, although Barrett said the group may add workers to handle online consumer reviews and complaints.

"I came in as CEO with fresh eyes and began evaluating what services we offer and the value we were creating, and when I looked at the TV and radio shows, they were not getting the audience we needed," Barrett said Wednesday. "Since half of the position was devoted to that, there was not enough (work) left to justify a full-time position, so the decision was made to outsource the public relations responsibilities."

Barrett said an informal survey he did of local businesses, consumers and bureau board members found few knew the bureau did television and radio shows, and neither attracted a large audience. He contacted several public relations agencies and had two make proposals before selecting Blakely & Co.

Colorado Springs-based Blakely will handle all public relations for the bureau, including keeping a database of media in the nonprofit's 25-county territory, pitching story ideas, handling crisis management, and developing social-media strategy, said Camille Blakely, president and partner of Blakely & Co.

Lisa Amend, the company's public relations director, will spend about 10 hours a week on the bureau's account and assist the its marketing and events director in negotiating partnerships and sponsorships, Blakely said.

The BBB Eye 30-minute television show aired monthly on the Pikes Peak Library District's cable television channel. The half-hour Insights radio show, produced by Salem Communications, was broadcast weekly on more than 30 Front Range radio stations. Both shows focused on a wide variety consumer protection issues.

Carrol said the layoff took her by surprise. She had been a faculty member for Columbia Basin College in Pasco, Wash., for a year and an anchor and reporter for KEPR-TV in Pasco for nearly two years. She also spent 15 years as an actor in New York, three years as an interior designer and four years with two public relations firms. She joined the BBB in 2005.

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Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234 Twitter @wayneheilman

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