You may have heard by now that Martin Waymire has a Hall of Fame player on the team: Kathy Barks Hoffman, vice president, is being inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame.
For Roger and me, she’s been an All Star from the day she arrived at Martin Waymire in 2014.
JOINING THE TEAM
We needed someone really strong to join our team, which was a little in flux. We had recently lost some really good staffers to great opportunities and we had to make the difficult decision that some people on the team were not, as we say, the “right people in the right seats.” We were in the opening throes of implementing a new management system, Traction, developed by Gino Wickham right here in Michigan. We needed a little help. Maybe a lot.
(We highly recommend entrepreneurs pick up a copy of Traction. Unless you are in the communications business and a competitor. Then you will find the book worthless and you should NOT read it. Really. I’m sorry I mentioned it.)
FROM THE AP TO PR
I first met Kathy when she was a young Lansing State Journal reporter, and I was in the Booth Newspapers Lansing Bureau. A few under-30 reporters and their spouses would meet for beers or dinners. Roger was part of that group, too. Kathy was the first local journalist I knew to dive into data-driven reporting, using computers to crunch data to uncover trends that proved great starting information for sometimes-startling articles.
She served a stint at USA Today in Washington, then was scooped up by The Detroit News for a short time. She moved over to The Associated Press in Lansing, where she led the staff for 17 years as the Lansing correspondent. She shoved her way into still-largely male reporter press scrums, just as tough as any reporter and more fair than most, writing straight-up copy that focused on “just the facts, ma’am.” That’s the AP way. And that long, steady, day-in and day-out grinding tenure as head of the Lansing AP Bureau was recognized as an important form of excellence by the Hall of Fame judges.
When she was ready to move into public relations, Martin Waymire didn’t have any openings. But when our needs and her interests were able to coincide, Roger and I moved quickly and strategically to woo her for the Martin Waymire team.
OTHER DUTIES AS ASSIGNED
She is more than an excellent writer and account manager. Kathy sets up account teams and oversees the hiring and management of new employees and the student practitioners – interns in other companies – who are so valuable to our operation. She continues to be plenty tough – bad ideas quickly die when they land on her desk – but steady in addressing the complexities of a company with 12 full-time staffers. Kathy keeps our company culture fun, arranging staff afternoons with the Lugnuts or at American Fifth Spirits, learning to make (and drink with gusto) exotic drinks.
She often finds herself translating strongly expressed but muddled notions from “the partners” to the rest of the team, and making sure Roger and I expand our awareness of each team member’s state of mind. She’s been a driver in making sure we consider the needs of all our team as we make decisions.
Roger and I have been fortunate in our 15 years of business together to work with outstanding talent. Kathy is at the pinnacle of that list – an MVP (Most Valuable Professional) — and a now a Hall of Fame example for all of us to admire.