Media News

Qwoted 100 PR Superstar: Brenda Christensen of Stellar PR

April 2, 2024

Posted by Lou Carlozzo

Often, the very best media relations professionals understand the lives and travails of reporters because they’ve been on the other side of the desk. Stellar Public Relations CEO Brenda Christensen, who graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s in journalism, has never forgotten her roots–and uses them to leverage a mix of empathy and connection in getting the job done with reporters.

A repeat winner of Qwoted 100 status, the San Francisco-based Christensen is nearing the quarter-century mark as CEO of her boutique firm, Stellar Public Relations. We sat with her to discuss her philosophies and work methods that have propelled her to leadership status in the tech PR world.


Qwoted: What do you see as the future of PR—technologically, strategically, or in any category you’re passionate about?

Brenda Christensen: I have delivered numerous talks, interviews, and webinars on the transformative impact of AI in public relations. My pioneering journey began in 1985 with the development of the first AI robotic programming language for GM, alongside creating patented Automated Processes for workflow optimization. This long-standing anticipation has prepared me for the seismic shifts AI promises to bring: not just to business and society at large but the field of PR as well. Despite its glamorous image, PR demands intensive, hands-on effort. AI presents an opportunity to scale and refine these efforts significantly. By automating tasks such as research and reporting, AI enables PR professionals to focus on higher-level strategy and creative pursuits, marking a new era of efficiency and innovation in the industry.


Qwoted: What do you do that you’re most proud of and that other PRs could learn from?

Christensen: With a background in journalism, I made the leap to PR to address a gap I observed between the two fields. Nearly four decades later, I am immensely proud to have been at the forefront of bridging this divide. My journey has been marked by remarkable success, including being recognized as an Inc. 500 executive and a National Entrepreneur of the Year. PR has been instrumental in each of these achievements, opening doors to collaborations with industry giants such as Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates and Mark Cuban, among others. This journey has not only been about personal success but also about fostering meaningful connections and innovations across the tech and media landscapes.


Qwoted: What’s your toughest challenge with reporters?

Christensen: Time is a challenge we all share, especially as deadlines and news cycles become increasingly shorter. In today’s fast-paced media environment, the paramount challenges for journalists and PR professionals are speed and accuracy. These elements are crucial not only in the current landscape but will continue to be so in the future.


Qwoted: What learnings have made a tremendous difference in your career?

Christensen: Learning from others can significantly accelerate one’s career development. I was fortunate to receive guidance from some of the industry’s luminaries, including PR executives from leading Fortune 50 companies such as GM, Domino’s Pizza and more. This experience has provided me with insights and strategies that have shaped my professional journey.


Qwoted: How do you break through the noise floor to get effective coverage?

Christensen: Being a former reporter definitely gives me an edge. I know how to translate marketing speak into clear, concise communication tailored to the story and the media outlet. I also understand the stress and constraints/challenges reporters face because I lived it!


Qwoted: How does PR in 2024 square with the future of journalism?

Christensen: Each year, the alignment between journalism and public relations grows tighter and the gap between them steadily narrows. Journalists grapple with the pressures of increasingly brief news cycles and the need for competitive coverage, a challenge mirrored in the PR world. Here, the demand is for coverage that not only breaks through the clutter but does so consistently and with impact.


Qwoted: What advice would you give to those who seek an effective PR person?

Christensen: Evaluate their track record and references meticulously. Much as in the medical profession, where the most skilled and knowledgeable doctors are distinguished by their success rates and stellar reviews, public relations operates similarly. The top professionals in PR have a history of notable achievements and positive feedback from clients and the press.


Qwoted: What is your golden rule of PR?

Christensen: Embody the client, embody the reporter. Strive to deeply understand both roles and seek to become the vital link that unites them. In doing so, you not only facilitate communication but also build relationships based on trust and mutual understanding. This approach empowers you to effectively convey messages that resonate–and ensure the needs of both parties are met and their voices are heard.


Qwoted: If there’s one thing you could change or improve about journalism or PR—in any area—what might that be and why?

Christensen: Platforms like Qwoted have become invaluable assets for professionals by streamlining communication and workflow. Looking ahead, I anticipate even more groundbreaking innovations in technology platforms aimed at enhancing response times and fostering collaboration. With AI poised to play a pivotal role, it will serve as a powerful assistant by automating repetitive tasks and redundancies. Today, AI is set to bring these concepts into real-time execution and revolutionize how we engage and interact.


Qwoted: Anything else to add?

Christensen: Thanks for the opportunity to share my insight. It’s a pleasure to work with an excellent platform like Qwoted and their entire team!


Brenda Christensen is the CEO of Stellar Public Relations. Email or connect on LinkedIn.

Lou Carlozo is Qwoted’s editor-in-chief and the editor/publisher emeritus of Talking Biz News. Email or connect on LinkedIn.

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