Oral Histories

Barbara Hunter

Full Interview

Barbara Hunter Biography

Barbara Hunter


One thing is being totally honest with your client. We have had a few failures, but I think that something that really testifies to the way we work is that basically Hunter Public Relations has maybe 12 clients as far as the company goes, but within those companies we have been passed along from brand to brand to brand to brand so that they represent a huge amount of business and I think that that is testimony to how we deal with our clients, and it's very important that our reports be based on strict facts and our results based on what we actually have found.

That I can't emphasize more that we be very straightforward and I think the same thing is true with employees. We would share. We used to have—I think they still do, whether its weekly or more—but staff meetings very frequently. We would let them know what's going on and you know if there are changes coming up we let them know so that they're not blindsided by anything, and we talk about what who we are pitching and what's happened within the client. There is reporting by different members of the staff, but I think knowing you don't have isolated account groups that don't know anything about what the others are doing and as a result they're very supportive. If they need extra help with staffing or whatever it's there for them always and very willingly. And it's always been that way. I just think that's terribly important. Communication. Transparency. Both with the client and with the staff…and as well with the media being very honest with the people you're dealing with. We're not trying to sell something that isn't true. So I don't know, that's basically what I feel very strongly about.

My sister and I we took over Dudley Anderson Yutzy, and ran it for I guess about thirteen years and that was a major thing that men working in the firm when we took it over didn't want to work for
women and they left with their industrial accounts and so we were left with the food business. We started to build on that and using the kind of theme line behind it all that we know women and therefore we could market to women.

But then we began to expand and we did manage to get some other accounts and one of them was the city of Little Rock who wanted to improve their image. We sent people out to Little Rock to take pictures of the city and to interview people even on the street so on to see how they felt about the city. When we made the presentation we surrounded them with pictures of Little Rock and taped voices and so on. We won the account and I headed up the team that went out to Little Rock and to
get full briefings and so on and I had to speak to all kinds of groups and you know the Chamber of Commerce…just a lot of them. Sometimes I wouldn't even be told I had to speak until I got there,
but after one of them, a man, came up to me and said I never thought we would ever hire a firm headed by women, but I'm glad we did. That was very rewarding.

We then sold it to Ogilvy & Mather there because basically my sister, who is seven years older than I, wanted to retire within a couple of years and so she wanted to begin her exit from the business and that was one way to do it. I stayed there until they bought Adams and Rinehart, and the head of Adams and Rinehart took over and he really didn't understand our firm or what we did or how
we did it, and after a short while after he took over he called my sister and me in and said, “Well
you call a staff meeting this afternoon and tell them that they have a new head of the of this part of our PR business.”

And just like that so we were basically made vice presidents again. After a few years or after a couple of years I didn’t have any respect for who they put in charge and so I decided to leave.

There were a couple of people that wanted to started an agency to. One was an account executive
that I had worked with and another was Jerry Cooper who was with AMACO at that time and wanted to move east. So the three of us started Hunter Mackenzie Cooper, and Jerry found that he was more comfortable and corporate public relations so he left after about, I think, a year, year and a half.

Eventually the other partner and I sort of had a disagreement and since I had controlling interest in the firm I decided it was better that she left. Then I became the sole owner of the firm.

When I decided to retire after looking into a lot of offers, because we had many from various companies. My key staff wanted to stay independent so I eventually sold it to them, to like five members of senior members in the firm and they have just gone gangbusters with it. They’ve really done a fabulous job with the firm. I am very proud of them. I'm very proud of the fact that they have kept the name and they keep me involved to at least some degree always. I'm part of their history and they are not ashamed of it. That’s really great.

Being able to express yourself well both verbally and in writing...I think that's very important. Obviously to have the basic attributes of honesty. Follow through is very important that you don't leave things in the in the middle. Cooperation I think is very important. Having a sense of humor I think is a very good qualification frankly. Creativity I think is very important. That if one solution isn't going to help, or one approach, being able to have the breadth to look at other approaches whether they're yours or whether they're someone else's. I think being able to bring out the best in the people that you're working with so that they feel free to be creative in to put forth their ideas that you can consider at least those are some of the things that I think are important