Original Article Posted: Voyage LA, September 11, 2018
Today we’d like to introduce you to Tonya McKenzie.
Tonya, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My first marketing position was granted to me by Dr. Fred Strache of Cal State University, Northridge in the summer of 1998. I served as the summer marketing intern for some of the new Health Center programs. Working with him taught me a lot about the importance of quality communication to your target audience about issues that could be very important to them. I went on to become the Associate Executive Director at the Mt. Diablo Region YMCA in Oakley, CA, handling sales and marketing for fitness, youth and community programming. Later, I was hired as the Sales & Marketing Director for Walnut Creek Sports & Fitness, a private club in the Bay Area. All of the positions have a weighted important on a person’s quality of life through great programming and self-care. Once I moved to Southern California with family, I started working in advertising at Southland Publishing, the Argonaut. This was my first time being on the other side of the advertising platform. I am usually the client, the advertiser or subject of an article. This time, I was designing and planning the media for another company. No matter how good an advertisement is designed and placed, they can always benefit from additional exposure, dialogue, and editorials. This revelation prompted me to launch my own boutique public relations firm. I would be able to maximize exposure for small to medium-sized businesses that do not have the large PR or advertising firm budget but still have an impact on the bottom line. Hence, Sand & Shores PR was born.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road has been challenging, educational and exciting all at the same time. Every company is different and has different needs so being flexible and creative can leave me sometimes missing the mark and other times hitting it out of the park. I have had to reposition the company a few times to put us in the best position to be successful and maximize our strengths. Also, with technology constantly changing, staying ahead of the curve with all of that can be frustrating. Marketing and public relations have been integrated into the tech world more now than ever. The platforms that we work on and ways that we communicate with media and each other has moved beyond pen, paper, and email.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Sand & Shores PR – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Sand & Shores PR is a boutique public relations and marketing firm specializing in working with for authors, speakers, entrepreneurs, and nonprofit organizations. These are true stores that have a powerful effect on real lives. Our job is to get those stories told in a way that brings more awareness and profitability to their business or their cause. People do business with those that they know and trust. We help the public get to know and believe in the business or personality presented. The consistency and authenticity bring audience loyalty.
I am my own client. As an author and a youth advocate, I test methods and techniques on my business to make sure that they work or find ways to tweak them for my clients.
What I am most proud of with Sand & Shores PR is the ability to collaborate with other small businesses and firms to contribute to the goals of all involved. My experience as a Director with the Oakley Chamber of Commerce and now as the first African American woman elected to the Board of Directors, Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce, gives me great insight to how complicated the process is for a small business to leverage marketing dollars. Understanding this process gives Sand & Shores PR an opportunity to be a part of their solution. We help maximize every dollar that a small business, entrepreneur, or nonprofit can revest into their business’ marketing efforts.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
The next steps for Sand & Shores PR will be to get state & local certifications to be able to provide city and state services.
I am an author of a recently released book, A Child’s Memories of Cartoons & Murder. It’s a memoir detailing my experience surviving gun violence assault and growing up in the Bay Area. This first book is an introduction of the side of Tonya McKenzie that many don’t know and would never know existed. I have carried on through life as if none of these things happened but it truly displays the mask that many kids of poverty and family violence go through while trying to matriculate through school and work for a better life. My child/youth advocacy allows me to interact with nonprofits doing great work with such kids. The long-term goal for Sand & Shores PR is to be able to provide services and help grow organizations focused on the greater good at rates that make it possible to keep them in the forefront of the news cycle. Let’s elevate good news… or as Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) says #GoodTrouble