Getting to know Director of Marketing & PR Kim Blichar
February 8, 2021 | Category: News
Most would wonder why an ambulance company would need a marketing and public relations director. In reality, Cetronia Ambulance Corps is so much more than an ambulance company. There are education opportunities for the public, fundraising events and non-emergency transportation options to make people aware of and so much more.
We did a little Q&A to find out more about Kim Blichar …
How long have you been working at Cetronia? I started working for the organization in June 2019.
Before Cetronia, where did you go to school, and what did you study? My background is very unique. I actually graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1989.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a professional ice skater for many years. I never took lessons, but when our cornfield in the backyard would freeze over every year, that was my arena! I’d be out there for hours.
When that wasn’t going to work out, I wanted to become an airline stewardess. I was never on a plane, but the job just seemed so fascinating to me. Well, good thing that didn’t happen, because after some of my first flights, I quickly learned that I really didn’t care that much for flying! So, then it was on to find another alternative.
Since I was probably two years old, I always loved the kitchen. My mom used to yell at me for taking all the cans and pots and pans out of the cupboard to play with them. My great aunt used to make cakes and I would be right under her feet and at the sink with her to wash dishes. My grandmother (our family matriarch) used to bake cookies with me and we had tea parties with the best silver sets every weekend. My curiosity grew from there and I ended up going to Vo-tech school for the foods program during my last two years of high school. I competed in cake decorating competitions and just absolutely fell in love with anything related to cooking. It was on to the Culinary Institute of America from there. I would not trade my career path for anything. Being a “chef” has taught me so much about how to manage my daily life.
Can you walk me through your career path from entry level position to your current position? After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America I went to work in hotels for 13 years. I started on the food and beverage side and quickly got burnt out from working so many hours. I asked the general manager at the time (I went through 13 general managers, 3 owners and 4 management companies) if I could be demoted to learn the other aspects of the hotel. I moved into the sales and catering department and started as a coordinator and moved through every position ending as the director of sales and marketing for my last six years there. At the time, I served on the board of the local tourism agency. Their budget was about to grow significantly due to a room tax and they asked me if I would be interested in joining their nonprofit organization. I jumped into the role of marketing administrator and again, quickly moved through the ranks during my 18-year tenure; ending as the executive vice president for my last eight years there.
As it goes, all good things must come to an end. With a leadership transition, myself and four other colleagues found ourselves out of a job. I had a valiant search effort to find my new career for nearly five months. I wanted my next position to be something where I could make a difference to the greater good of the Lehigh Valley.
Having served on the marketing advisory committee of Good Shepherd Rehabilitation, I had a business acquaintance that was on the board at Cetronia Ambulance Corps who knew the position of director of marketing and public relations was going to be announced and highly recommended me for the position. The rest is history!
What day-to-day responsibilities does your job entail? My job is to promote Cetronia Ambulance Corps to the general public through marketing and public relations efforts. I manage our website, social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn), press releases and media relations efforts. I am responsible for our fundraising efforts through special events, annual appeals and subscriptions. I assist with employee engagement efforts. I write the monthly e-newsletter and so much more.
What project that you’ve worked on at Cetronia are you most proud of? That’s an easy one that was really a hard one to pull off. Our annual Gala in 2020 was definitely something that I am very proud of. Due to COVID-19 we had to reschedule our Gala and reschedule and reschedule one last time. We ended up taking the event virtual, which is something that I have never done. We had celebrity Carson Kressley as our host which I got to personally interview. Granted our fundraising efforts were not of that if we would have been in person, but it was still an event that I will be proud of for all time.
What’s really fun about your job, and what’s really challenging? I love that my job has so many elements. It is never, ever boring. Whether it is determining which content to write about or grabbing the “perfect” photo or video snippet, I enjoy every aspect of what I do. The challenging part is being a one person department. Most of the directors at Cetronia are a department of one which definitely lends itself to having to be a super organized person and knowing what to shift on a regular basis as new things pop up all the time.
How has your job here allowed you to grow personally and professionally? When I took this position there hadn’t been someone in the seat for about two years. I had a lot to figure out as it was a new industry for me. I was given the opportunity to make it what I thought and knew it should be. I am happy to have grown our social media channels, website statistics, an e-newsletter creation and so much more.
What might surprise people about your job, or what’s one thing people don’t know about your position? In this industry, not many ambulance corps have a person that is dedicated to marketing and public relations. As one of the largest corps in eastern Pennsylvania, the need to have a person in this role is great in helping to advance the organization and keeps us top of mind in the community.
What advice would you give to a young professional searching for a job like yours? See it. Believe it. Do it! Great things never come from comfort zones. Step out of your comfort zone and experience all that life has to offer.