Caren West, Caren West PR

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This week we meet up with Caren West, President of Caren West PR, publicist extraordinaire, and all around all-star Atlantan.
Caren’s client roster is a who’s who of Atlanta’s seen scene- from Jeffrey Fashion Cares 2009 and The Gerber Group to the the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Citysearch and skirt! magazine.
Let’s get all “Five Questions With…” her:

Q. Favorite neighborhood?

I simply love the Old Fourth Ward and Inman Park. There is an undeniable sense of community spirit and a commitment from the residents and business owners to enhance and contribute positively to the area. Seriously, what’s not to love about being a stone’s throw away from Rathbun’s, P’cheen, the Bureau, Noni’s, Sotto Sotto, New Moon Skincare and Jac boutique?

Q. Last meal in Atlanta. Where are you going and what are you eating?

A. Atlanta’s culinary community is extraordinary. An easy and boring answer would be Rathbun’s or Rathbun’s Steak since I worship at the culinary throne of Kevin Rathbun, but I am going to go with a beer dinner upstairs at the Belgian Bar at Brick Store in Decatur. I would invite my favorite chefs including Kevin Rathbun, Gerry Klaskala, Shaun Doty, Riccardo Ullio, Richard Blais, Hector Santiago, Alex Friedman, Ria Pell, Ann Quatrano, and Ian Winslade. All the chefs would have to prepare one dish that compliments a beer of the Brick Store’s choosing. The only requirement is that Kevin Rathbun would have to bring me a crab tart (or two), since I dream of eating this little piece of heaven daily.

Chef Gerry Klaskala, of Aria fame. Try saying this five times- fast: “Gerry Klaskala is in Alaska.”

Q. If you could wave a magic wand and give instant, mass publicity to a hidden Atlanta gem, what would it be?

A. It would be the Old Fourth Ward. Both my office and my loft are located in this burgeoning neighborhood just minutes from Downtown. I believe in the people that invest themselves into making Atlanta a better place and the 04W community is an ideal example. I love the personality of the neighborhood, whether it is watching tourists taking in the history of Auburn Avenue or laughing amongst friends at P’cheen, this is my home and I want everyone to love it as much as I do.

The proposed Historic Fourth Ward Park.

Q. Brand Atlanta has had some marketing false starts lately, what with “Every Day Is An Opening Day” and “City Lights, Southern Nights” headlining our fabled city’s multi-million dollar ad campaigns. If you were tasked with energizing the Atlanta “brand”, what would you do?

A. It has been difficult as a public relations professional to watch from the sidelines as our city continues to pour money into marketing campaigns that are not representative of Atlanta and a complete waste of money and time. Every Day is an Opening Day? Really? If we were given the task of energizing the Atlanta brand, I would first sit down with Shirley Franklin and have a come to Jesus meeting about the budget. How is possible that we are jeopardizing the safety of Atlantans by cutting much needed police and firemen, but can justify spending millions on ineffective marketing campaigns? I am, and always have been, of the philosophy that if you have a great brand it will sell itself with the proper support and team behind it.

Dallas Austin and Mayor Shirley Franklin brainstorming lyrics for his Brand Atlanta ballad “The ATL” (or as many of us know it as, “the City of Atlanta’s hold music”).

If the residents of Atlanta (the team) feel safe and are enthusiastic and inspired about where they live and what is happening, from events to public safety, the brand will evolve and positive awareness about everything Atlanta has to offer will spread virally – because it is genuine. I would also encourage the city and the ACVB to get behind the festivals, events, and small business owners that make Atlanta truly unique. There is an obvious disconnect that is affecting everything from our convention business to our city’s overall image. Essentially, I would address reality instead of putting a band-aid on it, identify our true brand, and work to spread the message via Atlanta ambassadors – the people, places, and things that make our city unique.

Q. One day to show off Atlanta to the cast of The Golden Girls. Where are you taking them?

A. First, we would have to go by Value Village to try score sweet matching blazers with giant shoulder pads – preferably in complimentary pastels. I would hire a driver to take us around Atlanta for a pub-crawl in pimped out stretch Hummer limo. I would also hire someone to follow us around with a boom box and play Guns n Roses “Paradise City” whenever we entered or exited a bar. As far as strategy, I would start out at Moe’s and Joe’s, hit Highland Tap, Taco Mac, Dark Horse, Limerick Junction, Atkins Park, N. Highland Pub and then swing over to L5P for some Brew House, Porter, and Euclid Ave. Yacht Club action. When the ladies were good and tipsy, I would head to Magic City, just because, and then to the Pink Pony for a delicious and very affordable steak dinner.

Bonus Question: Why is Caren West PR awesome?

I must admit we ask ourselves this daily…kidding.

For me, it is our team that makes us special. We take an untraditional approach to everything we do and genuinely care about building success for our clients, company, and community. We are a family (a very sarcastic and prank playing family) at CWPR and support and love each other. Most importantly, we have a lot of fun together and understand that PR is far from a 9 to 5 job. That sincerity comes through in all that we do. I am very grateful for all of the amazing opportunities and people I have met because of CWPR and cannot wait to see what the future brings.

For more on the Historic Fourth Ward Park, click here.

For more on The Brick Store pub, click here.

For more on a fantastic loft in Caren’s beloved Old Fourth Ward, click here.

You’ll probably only like this loft if you’re into 15 ft. ceilings, industrial-chic loft accents and a private courtyard.

Photo Credits: Gerry Kalaska (PBA), O4W Park (COA), Dallas and Shirley (NBA)

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