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Author: Melinda Sherwood. Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on March 15, 2000. All rights reserved.
Women & Business: A Spin Doctor
Some women hit the glass ceiling repeatedly. Others
never experience it all. The latter has largely been true for Liz
Thomas, a publicist and founder of Thomas/Boyd Communications in
Trenton who was groomed in public relations during the 1980s as an
assistant to Governor Tom Kean
long and hard and how to do a good job, and for that I was rewarded
quite nicely," says Thomas, now one of New Jersey’s accomplished
With her partner, Pam Boyd
firms such as RCN and Merrill Lynch and has been the imagination
"Dimes for the Dome," an initiative to raise money to put
the gold back on the Trenton capitol dome, and the triumphant return
of the U.S.S New Jersey. She speaks on "Women and Business:
and Obstacles," on Wednesday, March 22, at 8:15 a.m. at the Mercer
Chamber meeting at the Greenacres Club. Joining her is Susanne
Svizeny, president of First Union Bank, and
owner of Lasley Construction Inc. Call 609-393-4143. Cost: $20.
Opportunity — rather than obstacle — is the word Thomas says
best describes her own professional journey. "The world was opened
up to me just in terms of the sheer number of people I met in the
government," she says. A graduate of Moravian College, Class of
1981, Thomas moved back to her home town of Nutley after graduation
and landed a job as low woman on the totem pole, a secretary, on
campaign a mere few weeks before he won the governor’s seat.
In those days, says Thomas, people still used the word
"He (Kean) asked me what I knew about politics," she recalls,
"and I said nothing. He said, `Do you want to learn?’ I said of
course." Soon after, Thomas was working in the press office, and
eventually slid over to a position as deputy director of New Jersey
Travel Tourism, where she got her feet wet on crisis communications
following the beach closing crisis.
She left in 1989 to found a private PR firm with Thomas Healey
and Paul Wolcott
stakes were high. "I quit my job at the state without a client
and we decided we would put a certain amount of money into a pot and
see how long it took us to get our first client," she says. As
it happened, her first client turned out to be Bell Atlantic Mobile.
It is an ability to build relationships — not necessarily sharp
business strategies — that Thomas credits to most of her current
accomplishments. "I had an office on West State Street for roughly
eight years and I spent days and nights there, and it’s where I
built the strongest relationships," she says. "I’m a big
in Trenton and it’s an area that I know very well."
"So much of our business is driven by the news and you don’t have
much time for a learning curve," she adds. "You have to become
educated on a variety of subjects in a very short time — new
new product announcements, and that world is changing every day. It’s
been a business that’s run by instinct as opposed to a definite
plan. It’s a business that has taken me in directions that I never
would have expected."
Like doing PR for RCN, which recently hired the firm to handle its
search for a new home, or Merrill Lynch, which is building a 3.5
square foot office campus in Hopewell.
Small businesses can dance with the big corporations, says Thomas.
"Bell Atlantic has been a client of mine for nine years,"
she says. "In any consulting business you can be here today and
gone tomorrow. I think often times you are called into do a job and
you do it and then you both move on. We’ve been fortunate to have
people stick around."
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