Meet the PR and Marketing Manager: Linda Hardwick at the Phoenix Zoo

Linda Hardwick is the PR and Marketing Manager at the Phoenix Zoo.

Describe your job: I do a little bit of everything at the Phoenix Zoo! My primary objective is to increase the Zoo’s exposure through public relations efforts, namely free media coverage. I work closely with several local media outlets to build relationships, pitch story ideas and position our employees as experts in the field.  I also create the Zoo’s media strategy and act as spokesperson where appropriate.  I am the editor of the Zoo’s member magazine, Wild Times, and create the Zoo’s electronic newsletter, zNews. I also direct all on-grounds signage, dabble in our marketing efforts by editing copy for paid advertising and assist with efforts of the Zoo’s branding campaigns with our Director of Marketing and our outside marketing agency. I oversee the Zoo’s social media outlets as well as the Zoo’s website (which is currently undergoing a major overhaul).

How long have you been in the position? I have been at the Zoo for two and a half years.

What in your background helped you get the position? I have a degree in Broadcast Journalism and spent several years working for the NBC station in Salt Lake City. I spent time producing station campaigns and news segments including documentaries, news stories and public service announcements. I made the transition into Public Relations about 15 years ago and have worked in several industries including home-building, technology and at a non-profit children’s museum.

What is your favorite thing about your job? Everyday is different!

Describe a favorite memory/experience in your current position: It would have to be the day we released six American white pelicans into their new exhibit. The birds had been affected by the BP oil spill, and we received them from the Jackson Zoo who had been caring for them following the spill. A local six-year-old boy, Logan, had become fascinated with these birds when he saw through the media that they were going to call the Phoenix Zoo home. His mom had called the Zoo to find out the date of the birds’ release into their new exhibit. After talking with his mom, I learned that Logan initiated a fundraiser at his school to raise money for wildlife that had been affected by the oil spill. I invited Logan and his family to witness first-hand the birds’ introduction to their new home. After meeting this darling boy and seeing his love for the pelicans, including a notebook full of drawings of pelicans, a pelican T-shirt, and learning how his room was covered with pelican artwork—I knew we had to make him part of the story. With the help of our amazing keepers, we allowed Logan to assist in releasing one of the pelicans. Several media outlets had shown up that day to cover the story of the pelicans, and after seeing Logan’s passion for the birds, the angle quickly turned into a story about an amazing little boy and the Phoenix Zoo’s assistance to help him live out a dream come true. The story received local, national and international coverage and the Zoo has a family who is going to be friends and members for life!  I receive updates about Logan from his family and have recently learned that he is volunteering at a couple of local bird rescue organizations. It’s rewarding to see the Zoo’s mission in action: to provide experiences that inspire people and motivate them to care for the natural world.

Do you have a favorite animal? Why is it your favorite? I love the giraffes. They are so beautiful and sweet. I also love their long eyelashes- they rival the length of my son’s eyelashes … lucky boy!

Profile Extra: Linda’s favorite memory on the news!

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