Cinderella, Simba, Goofy–oh my!
Conjuring up fun at work can be a difficult task these days, so Ragan created a contest to keep all you hardworking communicators in good spirits. In anticipation of heading back to Walt Disney World Sept. 9-10, Ragan asked readers to describe which Disney character best embodies their work life. You wrote back with a slew of colorful, shiny selections.
Our team selected a winner, Katie Coleman, who wins one free night at Disney’s Swan & Dolphin Resort during our Social Media Conference for PR, Marketing and Communications Professionals. Congrats!
Katie Coleman, director of communications and public affairs at Nevada Rural Housing Authority: Mrs. Potato Head
In the “Toy Story” movies, Mrs. Potato Head is supportive and scrappy. She lends an eye (literally – pop!) to help be a lookout during a mission to save her toy friends. Her unwavering love for Mr.
Potato Head is something I admire (no matter how obnoxious he gets!) and she’s a bit of a tubular fashionista. She also makes me think about the versatility of the potato (and this part may sound a bit dark… the thought of slicing and dicing, mashing and cooking a potato… sorry, Mrs. P!). As a PR representative for my agency, I’m not relegated to pitching and fielding media inquiries. I’m the Jackie of All Trades. My team takes a totally integrated approach to ensuring our brand awareness and prowess in the affordable housing space. We’re tackling media engagement, public outreach, social, digital, paid advertising, internal comms., executive comms., branding and even picking out the paint palette for a newly renovated office space. As comms. people, we are versatile potatoes – smooth and creamy at times, hot and spicy at others. But at the end of the day, potatoes are good. Every organization on the planet needs a Mrs. Potato Head.
Read on for some of our other favorite submissions:
Barbara Tagge, senior manager of marketing and communications at PwC: Chicken Little
I’m an internal communicator. My whole job is about telling the enterprise when the sky is or is not falling!
Jennifer Tross, director of marketing and communications at Shriners Hospitals for Children: Belle
I may seem quiet and introverted, but I’ve got big opinions and am not afraid to defend what I believe in.
Donna Reed, publicity assistant: Belle
She’s independent, quiet at times, hardworking and yet friendly to others and that closely relates to me as well.
Jordyn Imhoff, public relations representative and medical science writer at University of Michigan, Michigan Medicine: Ariel
When I graduated from Central Michigan University two years ago, I jumped right into my first “big girl” job, and it’s been a whirlwind ever since. I’m constantly learning more about brand management, social media strategy and building relationships with clients and the media. My curiosity, and hunger to learn more and come into my own as a professional in this field, are qualities Ariel exudes. She’s willing to try new things, especially when she first gets her land legs and has to adjust to a human lifestyle. Life as a PR person is similar in this way; sometimes you’re thrown into the deep end and it’ll take persistence, dedication and the willingness to fail to ultimately be successful. Ariel is headstrong, she’s going to go after what she wants, and I’m the same way in my career. I’m a strong believer in asking for the things you want in life and being proactive about your growth. Ariel is also bright, and I like to think I bring this same cheery attitude into work with me every day.
Andrew Doucette, account executive at Mower PR Agency: Pumbaa
Sometimes scary things come my way (like a little lion showing up in the savannah) but I always try to see the best in every situation.
Quintin Marquez, public relations manager at the Salvation Army of Amarillo: Aladdin
I embody Aladdin. I chose Aladdin because just like him, I am able to juggle multiple personas throughout my day. I am able to interact with people with different backgrounds as he does in town, but I can also lead people when asked as he does as prince. We are both optimistic, and we both have a passion for adventure. I think that the biggest characteristic we share is that we both put others needs in front of our own, as he did with the Genie and what we try to do at The Salvation Army.
Allyson Huggett, marketing director at Next Level Accounting and Tax: Rapunzel
The Disney character that best describes my work/life balance is Rapunzel from “Tangled.” Always moving from one topic to another… all day long.
Michelle Radman, communications specialist at the University of Waterloo: Tinker Bell
Tinker Bell is a sassy fairy. She is fearless, determined and stubborn: all qualities I identify with! I also sprinkle pixie dust wherever I go!
Erynne Zhang, public relations director at KP Public Affairs: Mulan
Mulan relies on experience, wit, and the bonds she’s formed with her team to take care of business. Being a woman in what can often be seen as a man’s world doesn’t stop her from achieving great things. By thinking outside of the box and pushing forward even when things seem impossible, Mulan is able to far surpass expectations and lead her team to victory. Not surprisingly, she’s also my all-time favorite Disney character.
Kandice S. Hewlett, director of marketing, IT and public relations at the Thomas Heyward Academy: Belle
Belle is my Disney character alter ego because she is smart, caring, and brave. She is hardworking and eager to help others, and she always looks for the best in others when they may not see it. She loves books as I do too!
Farrah Hunt Thompson, director of consulting at Greystone.Net: Wendy
I relate to Wendy trying to keep everyone happy and moving forward day-to-day because my husband and I work fulltime from home with both our children around. My day is filled with multiple moving parts with a ton of different personalities.
Joanna Penalva, assistant director of marketing and communications at Syracuse Stage: Mad Hatter
I am most definitely the Mad Hatter in my work life over the last 14 months. Working from home with a toddler and a dog has proven to be a constant tea party of juggling the two P’s: Parenting andPR-ing. It has required me to be moving in 14 directions at the same time while being an entertainer, mom, and keeping a theatre in people’s minds (as we conducted an entirely virtual season). Oh, and I feel like there is always something up my sleeve. The photo was taken while I was writing this entry to show you the “madness.”
Carrie Rose Pace, director of communications of GRTC Transit System: Princess Anna
Princess Anna has a can-do optimism to get things done! She also defaults to seeing the best in people and promoting their strengths. She champions trust and collaboration, especially during crisis. Anna takes responsibility for her actions and assumes more responsibility over time. She is a leader who also knows how to listen and adapt. Plus, she’s kind and fun!
Aja Goare, marketing and communications specialist at Child Care Resource Center: Tigger
Like Tigger, I’m always enthusiastically sharing ideas for communications strategy and bouncing ideas around.
Chris Curtland, public relations manager at Venue Marketing Group: Pumbaa
I’m Pumbaa because I’ve got a mohawk and a thick dad bod,
and I’m mostly comic relief but can occasionally impress with behind-the-scenes heavy lifting (he carries Timon) and esoteric knowledge (he knows what stars are made of). Work-life balance ain’t no passing craze, and my approach to it is guided by a no-worries, problem-free philosophy. Hakuna Matata, Ragan!
Kristi Chadderdon, PR professional: Ursula
Ursula is fiercely confident, and her theatrical sense makes her lively to be around.
Jenilee Szymanski, director of corporate communications at Adidas Latin America: Maleficent
Szymanski compares communications to Maleficent:
The LAM kingdom had a manipulated perception of Communications. It was easy to label Communications as a villain who was coming to change the rules and spokespersons. But as the team saw the results of the new communication strategy and the vision of Maleficent, they realized she was just misunderstood and not the villain she was made out to be. The kingdom accepted Maleficent and now counts on her to maintain the transparent dialogue between sectors of the kingdom.
Dani Nemeth, PR senior associate at Montieth & Co: Genie
While I have to admit I’m feeling (and looking) most like Quasimodo after a year of remote working from the barstool in my kitchen, I think my work style is most reflected by Genie.
Much like his role in “Aladdin,” I often find myself working with clients that have extravagant wishes for their media program—and I work hard behind the scenes to make sure they get just what they’re looking for. I also aspire to reflect Genie’s deep appreciation for his friends and his reliance on working with Aladdin to jointly achieve their goals.
Nori Gartner-Baca, patron campaign specialist at Syracuse Stage: Bashful
While I’m shy and quiet when it comes to voicing my opinion at work, I am a team player and a hard worker just like Bashful. I blush with a compliment and can be self-conscious. Working in a busy marketing/PR department for a live theatre company–during a pandemic without live theater–I relied on my team of dwarfs (oh we sure had a few Grumpys and Happys on our team) to keep our customers up to date with constantly changing messaging and content.
Scot Christenson, communications director at the U.S. Naval Institute: Captain Hook, Baloo, and the Sheriff of Nottingham
Being a multifaceted PR professional, it is appropriate that I have already been several Disney characters. I portrayed Captain Hook, Baloo and the Sheriff of Nottingham when I was WDW cast member while attending college. Just like it is important in PR to capitalize on opportunities whenever you see a place where you fit, I got to be those characters when Disney needed someone my height to wear the costumes.
Maury Rogoff, president of Maury Rogoff PR & Marketing: Aurora and Bashful
Rogoff contrasts the two characters:
Though I’m guessing that most people might align me with Aurora, the blonde Sleeping Beauty, my inner self is better represented by Dwarf Bashful. Like Aurora, I like strolling in the forest (the Conservatory Gardens in Manhattan’s Central Park). As for my “Bashful” side–I too don’t like disappointing people; I am a romantic; and I avoid being the center of attention. Hence, my vocation–PR!
Julie Garisto, freelance journalist and copywriter at the Cade Museum for Creativity & Invention: Fairy Godmother
I just moved to the Ocala National Forest and as you can imagine, there aren’t many niches I fit in here, so I’m alone with my critters (two dogs, three cats). With them, I have superpowers like the fairy godmother in “Cinderella,” who transforms the rodents in Cinderella’s basement. When I’m at the university, I meet amazing Cinderella’s everyday finding their own version of the glass slipper.
Robyn Readicker, international sales & marketing manager at Luraco Health & Beauty, LLC: Bambi
My birth name in 1958 was Robyn Marie Bambei and I grew up with peers calling me Bambi. Most people thought it was a nickname since I had huge brown eyes and they thought I was sweet and innocent like the original Bambi. I’ve always embraced all of the Disney characters but still smile when someone calls out, “Hi Bambi,” when they see me.
Deborah Sierchio, senior V.P. at Coyne PR: Hei Hei the Rooster
Because in PR, no matter what you need to be like Hei Hei–no matter what happens, you need to stick by the side of your client and be there for them.
Fabio Caceres, corporate marketing at ACG Films & Foils: Buzz Lightyear
I connect with Buzz because he´s fun, crazy and obstinate. We are always ready for the move when we have a situation, acting straight to the point–Affirmative? We are always READY for a New LAUNCH!
And although most of the time life won´t let me fly,
When I close my eyes, take a deep breath and jump onto the empty space
Somehow a breeze always comes by
Whispering in my ears, saying
Step aside and let ME FLY.
Kristen Freeman, communications manager at Minnesota Management & Budget: Tinker Bell
I think that communicators are the Tinker Bells of the workplace. We’re a constant sidekick for leaders and partners. And whether it’s in a crisis or just to help lift spirits, they lean on us to sprinkle our pixie dust and make magic happen.
Kristen Clonan, principal of KCLO & CO & president/CEO of Airfluence Inc: Moana
Moana knows she may fail and that is OK with her! She acts with blind courage and is willing to fail and be a beginner when most are not. Having worked in-house for much of my career, my personal brand and philosophies were tied to the companies I worked for. When I became an entrepreneur and stepped into the agency space, I knew it could be perceived outwardly as a big leap. I had been recruited by many of the top companies, having had the chance to work with top leaders in Corporate Communications & PR at leading Fortune 500 companies, but still decided to double down on myself in late 2019, a few months shy of the pandemic. Taking big leaps of faith are part of each career journey, and they are topics we should talk about more in the context of success, failure, and learning. Many times throughout my career, I worked long hours and skipped out on teachable moments in favor of big visible projects, campaigns and stories. It was a grind. I thought this was the way — but I have learned as an entrepreneur, the teachable moments are in the daily moments, mistakes, and failures. The moments are woven into the fabric of the faith we have to “make a difference” and “double down” on the investments that are most personally meaningful. This is what makes work fun. We should all aim to be a little more like Moana.
Mandy Archer, editor in chief of Amplify and strategic comms intern at the University of Iowa: Giselle
My work life/career most resembles Giselle’s from “Enchanted.” Giselle is curious and always inspired to learn more. She approaches each new relationship like they are her best friend right from the start. She doesn’t let people who burn her stop her from being pleasant to others and treating the people around her as individuals. Individuals have individual needs, and Giselle listens to her friends to learn about them. She can warm even the coldest hearts by being there and knowing what questions to ask. Giselle embodies PR’s two-way symmetrical communication by being able to take criticism and change from it. She is a great representative of goodness without falsity or fakeness. She genuinely loves talking and communicating with everyone around her and knows that she can bring value into their lives. She is too excited not to share her insights with others! People are definitely confused by how high-energy she is and how genuine her intentions are to make others happy.
Shallon Blackburn, head of customer service & sales at Ragan Communications: Slinky Dog/Tigger
Slinky Dog because he’s extremely loyal to Woody (as I to Ragan), and though he’s a bit of the outcast in the toy world (much as I felt for many years working through the vendor world of PSA & ACC), he’ll stretch as far as he can to ensure everything and everyone are taken care of! Tigger because he’s always full of energy, and here, there and everywhere! Our work lives are much the same, with so many products and customers to take care of, both in sales and customer service. So, my day rarely ends up at all where I was in the beginning of it!
Gabriela Laracca, public relations specialist at ArtsQuest: Chicken Little and White Rabbit
I understand the prompt was for just one Disney character, but please hear me out in saying your average communications and/or media professional, myself included, is a perfect mix between these two characters. While Chicken Little runs around telling everyone “the sky is falling!” hoping someone will listen to the drastically important news, communications professionals spend their days trying to spread the word on a hopefully more positive message, getting as many people to listen as possible. The White Rabbit, on the other hand, seemingly never has enough time in the day because he’s always late, “for a very important date,” with “no time to say hello, good-bye,” because well… he’s late. Hopefully, the best communicators would be a bit more punctual and deadline oriented, but you are certainly not working in media/communications if you cannot empathize with there never being enough hours in the day, especially when racing against the ferocious 24-hour news cycle.
Carissa McBurney, community outreach coordinator at the West Virginia Poison Center: Rapunzel
Especially during this past year, I have felt like Rapunzel. I have been working from home with a preschooler and 2nd grader during the pandemic and doing online learning with both. While I have enjoyed our time at home, I have also felt stuck while watching many others return to normal activities. There are definitely pros and cons to both normal life and our COVID normal and there are areas I don’t want to give up of either.
Meghan Swope, director of digital media at the American College of Radiology: Vanellope “The Glitch” von Schweetz
Just like Glitch, I’m feisty, determined, goal-driven and always racing to fix and overcome any glitch with respect to our web properties or social media before it can be perceived. I also have strong allies like Ralph among our membership – we call them our Social Media Superusers.
John Hawley, web engineer at Ragan Communications: Bert
Hawley is the only participant who chose Bert:
Bert, from “Mary Poppins,” is a jack-of-all-trades. He never stays with one trade too long and adapts to current conditions. He is a jolly soul, and a self-less person. Helping others while keeping to an insignificant role in his own career, pushing others forward as a priority over his own. Often unrecognized and somewhat of an afterthought. Self-aware of all his flaws, but still present when those around him are in need.
Amy Hernandez, marketing and public relations manager at ElectrIQ Marketing: Genie
Just like the Genie from “Aladdin,” I am a free spirit who manages to make things happen like magic. My team can always count on me to bring positive energy to the office, come through when it comes to getting placements for our off-site SEO assets, or to magically transform myself into a publicist when booking interviews for our clients. Genie and I really are one and the same even in our downtime since we both love traveling and going on new adventures where we get to meet incredible people.
Zelly Lodin, senior corporate communications consultant at Delta Dental of California: Timon
I would say I resemble Timon from “The Lion King” (I’m attaching a video here as proof that this is a physical resemblance as well). I’m pretty outspoken and I love to make people laugh, but I also love to support my coworkers – especially junior staff – on their “hero’s journey.” As I’ve grown in my career, I get the most satisfaction lifting up others to achieve and grow. Also, as a working person with a disability, I live my life by the hakuna-matata spirit. Work can get stressful, so I try to bring joy and positivity into all my projects and meetings – even on Mondays. Lastly, I’ve eaten crickets before at the local baseball stadium (Oakland, CA) and they’re pretty good with the right seasoning.
Ines Rodriguez, senior corporate communications consultant at Delta Dental of California: Moana
Zelly Lodin nominates Rodriguez:
My lovely co-worker Ines Rodriguez most resembles Moana. Not just in appearance, but also in spirit. She’s the adventurous one on our Comms team, helping our enterprise break new ground in terms of Pinterest and influencer marketing. She’s also strong and fearless outside of work: she recently completed two Iron Man events and has qualified as a World Champion. Despite her accomplishments, she’s still incredibly humble and is always thinking about the needs of her team before her own. And she throws up a hang-loose gesture at the end of Zoom calls.