Where do I even begin with this darling friend? The first time I interacted with Lauren Hopkins it was with one of her staff introducing a new company to me. It was a few years ago and I was immediately impressed with every single thing about the email. I have the pleasure of working with a lot of public relations groups but something about this one was different. I remember googling them and checking it out immediately and bookmarking the site to visit again, I was very impressed with everything I could see coming out of that one simple email. This company stood out to me.
Fast forward a few years and many emails back and forth. I knew I adored Lauren even before we met in person. Emails led to phone conversations and there was just about her that always stood out to me. She was genuine and kind. She was funny and full of life. I always enjoyed every single company she picked to introduce to me and I loved working with her, and this was all before meeting her in person. It was only getting better and better.
This February in Sea Island for The Southern C Summit I had the opportunity of meeting Lauren in person and hug her neck for the first time. From the moment I spotted her I knew we would become even better friends. She has a presence and a smile that stand out. Her dimples light up a room! She always dresses the part and looks like she is always on top, which she is. Lauren Hopkins is just different than any other PR leader I know and I love it. Representing some of the best in the business every single person that knows her says the same thing … she is amazing!
When she agreed to let me interview her I was giddy, I adore every single thing about Lauren and I am thrilled she trusted me to share her story. I am honored!
First of all, tell me about Lauren Hopkins. Where did you grow up and how did your childhood influence your life and your business today?
Born and raised in Augusta, Georgia—the home of the Masters—I learned small-town southern values: the importance of building strong relationships and that being polished and well-spoken can take you far in life. I’m blessed with a wonderful family that made an indelible mark on who I am as a person and business woman. My dad is an entrepreneur with a keen business mind and my mother (CEO of our household) has a heart of gold. My older brother, who owns a Charlotte-based commercial real estate firm, continues to provide me with constant inspiration. We’re a close family—tightly knit and supportive of each other’s personal and professional endeavors. My childhood taught me unconditional love, a boot-strap work ethic, and rooted me in a sustaining, deep-seeded faith.
As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a mom, which I am proud to say that I am. Being a mother to Grace (5) and Ford (2) is my favorite title of all! Growing up in a business-minded family set an early example for owning my own business. In my college years, law school seemed like the logical path to business ownership as I explored different industries that might spark my entrepreneurial spirit. That plan quickly changed when I met my husband during a storied St. Simons Island summer. A decision to forego law school for work in luxury real estate marketing ultimately led me to where I am today. You know what they say about plans, right?
Did you always want to be in public relations?
Not entirely! PR was certainly something that always interested me. I started as a communications major at Furman University and interned with a Greenville-based PR firm. Print and news media was also one of my strong interests from the time I was very young. I was always scooping up any magazine or newspaper I could find and soaking in the content. Plus, if I’m being candid, Katie Couric was my idol! I learned along the way that PR is a great way to combine so many of the things that I love—strategy, planning, writing, and relationship building.
What has your career path looked like and how did you get to the present day?
I see God’s hand all over the last 12 years. I began in real estate marketing for The Sea Island Company. My tasks were a good mix of client relations, marketing and PR. I was blessed with the opportunity to travel to cities across the United States, coordinate promotional events, and share the Sea Island experience with some of America’s most influential and interesting people. I look back on those times and realize how green I was—but I couldn’t have asked for a better learning experience! I chose to leave Sea Island just before the recession and work for a local PR firm, Butin Integrated Communications, where I learned from my boss who is one of the most talented in the PR field. I spent nearly six years working closely with her, managing high-level accounts, and practicing the tenants of public relations. I had all intentions of returning to Butin after the birth of our first child, Grace, in 2012. Not long after she was born I realized I couldn’t stifle the longing for my own business and a creative freedom. I launched LBH & Co. four years ago and haven’t looked back. I’m grateful to work with amazing clients—they’re passionate, creative, fun, and a joy to promote. They inspire me every day.
Anything you wish you had done along the way and didn’t do?
Yes! I started my job at Sea Island one day after graduating from Furman. I wish I’d taken a little bit of time to enjoy the post-college experience before entering the workforce. It’s my biggest piece of advice to young people graduating today. Even if it’s just a few weeks, take time to celebrate your accomplishments and contemplate where you want to go in this great, big, beautiful world. Plus, once you start working, it’s very hard to stop!
Share two people who have inspired your journey and why?
My previous boss, Mary Butin of Butin Integrated Communications, is an inspiration and a pivotal figure in my career journey. She came from a top agency in Atlanta and also worked for The Coca-Cola Company. Using the skillset she learned in those jobs, Mary was able to build an agency on small St. Simons Island. She now does what she loves in a place she loves. She’s proven you don’t have to be based in a large city to be a successful agency. The bonus is, she’s an excellent wife and mother. I learned so much from her and consider her a mentor.
Entrepreneurship and the weight of owning a business can be hard, which is why I also remember my grandfather as an inspiration. He started our family business more than 40 years ago with not much to his name but an excellent work ethic and a can-do attitude. Hard work and determination set him apart, leading him to launch very successful retail businesses in the southeast. I know it wasn’t always easy and I believed him when he said I could accomplish anything. He reminded me of this constantly and always said it with such comforting, encouraging confidence.
Can you share a high point in your journey and what was that like for you?
I’ll never tire of seeing a client in print or on television but there are definitely a few moments that stand out. Coastal Living shared a fantastic multi-page feature about The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island with beautiful photography and a charming story. The day that copy landed in my mailbox was one of my first big successes after going out on my own. I felt the same way seeing Libbie Summers, a long-time client and dear friend, in a large feature in Better Homes & Gardens. House Beautiful is another one of my personal favorite publications. Johnson Vann Interiors has graced their pages twice in the past year, which gives me chills!
Juggling a career and motherhood is tough, do you have any tips to making it all work?
I saw a quote recently—“We start every day wondering how it’s all going to get done, but somehow it always does.” I try to focus on the reality that it will, in fact, always get done. Every day might not have materialized as planned, but the important things happen. My biggest tip is do everything with great love. I love my work, my clients, and my family. If I share great love with everyone in my circle and everyone I come across, I think the pieces have a way of falling into place and I end the day feeling successful.
Your career takes you all over and you meet and work with so many people … where do you love to travel to for work?
I adore our small island of St. Simons and the wonderful childhood it affords Grace and Ford. But, I still get a charge out of being in a city for a few days—any city! The chance to experience urban environments, various cultures, unique food, and shopping. It’s all a dichotomy to my day-to-day, so I try to relish wherever my work takes me. I recently went to Miami for several days. I was skeptical before the trip but left being a total fan. I highly recommend a visit! Washington DC will always have a special place in my heart. It was my first—and last!—forray into big city life and I learned so much. My college friends still laugh when I hail a cab but I think it’s one of my personal strengths.
You work with so many fun people, what is that like?
I am so fortunate to work with clients who I truly adore—I love their businesses and it doesn’t take long before we connect personally. My clients have expanded the circle of people I cherish. I’m proud to call them friends. I also have the opportunity to work with men and women through various media outlets (regional & national, television, print and digital). Having a broad and distinctive group of people to collaborate with on a daily basis adds unparralled richness to my work. Even on the days I’m working in the office in our small town, I feel connected to people from across the the country. Dipping into their lives, interests and work is such a treat.
What is one tip you think everyone should know about their own PR?
ALWAYS be thinking about your brand—every personal and professional decision you make should be laced with an underlying awareness that it will affect your business. Being polished, on-brand, and focused will present opportunities you might not even know were possible.
Anything people shouldn’t do?
Being unprepared or in a hurry will cut you off at the knees. So many people skip from A to Z when it comes to PR. They want to be published, but their website isn’t up to par, their social media is lackluster, or they don’t have a memorable story to tell. If you want to see yourself and your brand in the media, take the time to invest on the front-end. Build a great website (they can be created on a shoe-string these days!), learn social media, study your customer and collect great images. Then, examine and investigate the right outlets for you—decide what media outlets, which editors, and what angles will secure coverage.
What is your favorite way to unwind?
It’s hard to beat sitting on my back porch watching my children play baseball with my husband while the moss sways in the oak trees. Since moving to St. Simons twelve years ago, I’ve fallen deeply in love with where we live. It’s restorative and a daily reminder to slow down. And, at the end of the day, there is nothing better than the sound of my children’s laughter.
Five must haves.
An old friend (or three, in my case) who always answers when you call, will show up in a moment’s notice, completes your thoughts, and shares your drink of choice.
A go-with-anything lipstick and blush that make you feel put together and look rested. Good Southern girls don’t shy away from a pop of color!
A bottle of red, white and rosé on-hand to share with someone you love or an impromptu guest. My in-home bar takes a cue from the Girl Scouts—always be prepared.
Treasured antiques and heirlooms. I’m a sentimentalist at heart. Seeing things around my home that call to mind family and history ground me and remind me of my roots.
Organization. I take immense satisfaction from ending the day with a clean home, tidy desk, and a plan for taking on the world tomorrow.
“For we walk by faith and not by site.” – 2 Corinthians 5:7
This has always been my favorite piece of scripture and I remind myself of it constantly.
“Don’t fuss dear, get on with it” – Audrey Hepburn
I love this quote because life can be tough sometimes. This reminds me of how I was raised—pick up and keep moving. It also just sounds like something my dad’s mother would have said.
I truly think that Lauren has created a PR that stands out, gets noticed and this is why she is a girl who gets it done. I am thrilled to know her, to treasure her as a fabulous contact and precious friend in this business. Lauren, thank you for always taking my calls, for always having incredible advice and for being so true to you no matter what. You are an inspiration to many!