Bolt PR’s Caroline Callaway is leading the charge

Caroline Callaway, president and founder of Bolt PR, shares why the consumer product sector needs more women in C-Suite leadership roles.
Caroline Callaway

Drug Store News caught up with Caroline Callaway, president and founder of Bolt PR, a public relations and digital marketing agency. Callaway is an integrated communications professional with more than 20 years of B2B and B2C marketing experience, and her goal is to empower women in C-suite level leadership roles. In our Q&A, she discusses why women in the consumer products sector bring unique strategies to the table, and why visibility and representation in these roles are important.

Drug Store News: Can you share how your background inspired you to start Bolt PR?
Caroline Callaway: Understanding new perspectives has always been my source of inspiration. Through high school and college, I worked in various sectors including retail, customer service, food and beverage, hospitality and in-house B2B marketing. Each of these experiences gave me firsthand insights into the inner-workings of these types of businesses – both the challenges and the opportunities. As I stepped into my first PR agency internship, I realized I had found my calling. 

Taking the in-house perspectives and being able to relate to our clients and their experiences fueled my understanding and connection with the brands and the people behind them. As I continued down my PR career path, I worked for a small agency, in-house for a B2B software company, back to a midsize PR agency, then back in-house once more for a B2B software company.

It was then that I realized how important the connection to the people behind these brands was for me, so I ventured out to start my own agency, working directly with entrepreneurs across food and beverage, retail, hospitality, B2B and other verticals. My deep understanding of their business operations combined with my marketing and PR mindset allowed me to meet clients where they are and build meaningful communications programs together. Fast forward nearly 17 years and we’re still working in lockstep with brands to meet them where they are and set the stage for accelerating their growth.

DSN: What unique qualities or strategies do women leaders in the consumer products sector bring to the table?
CC: The amazing thing about women is, what don’t we bring to the table? We bring business acumen, innovation and creativity, leadership and strategy, and combine that with empathy, understanding, and unique perspective as primary household purchasers. Add another layer to that, we have seen firsthand the sense of community among women, perhaps most readily observed through the support women give other women in recognizing one another’s achievements. We know a rising tide lifts all boats, and women are not afraid to celebrate and amplify one another; women know there are plenty of wins to go around, and it’s an incredible thing to witness. Organizations who do not have women in leadership positions are missing out on so much more than a diversity checkbox; they’re missing out on understanding and connecting with a huge population of their buyers.

DSN: How does Bolt PR work to increase the visibility and representation of women in consumer product C-suite leadership roles?
CC: PR is about great storytelling, and we are humbled to be entrusted to tell the stories of so many innovative leaders in the consumer products category. More than just talking about the products, our clients are the people behind the brands who bring tremendous value in sharing their perspectives, insights and learnings. A critical piece of the overall brand storytelling is telling balanced and diverse viewpoints, representing multiple leaders across the C-suite, including and especially women, as those are stories that have not been told nearly as much over the years. 

We are fortunate to have so many women shattering the glass ceiling in the C-suite of consumer products companies, and we are proactive in seeking out their voices and points of view specifically to share on a larger platform through thought leadership interviews and articles, speaking engagements and awards. We aim every day to be an active contributor in helping to elevate women’s voices across the sector and give access to future women leaders to hear the stories of these successful women and inspire their own pursuits.

DSN: Innovation is essential in today’s consumer products landscape. How does Bolt PR work with female leaders to foster innovation and disrupt traditional industry norms?
CC: Bolt PR’s role in fostering innovation and disrupting traditional industry norms comes in the form of empowering women to talk about innovation and in creating a platform to reach and inspire others. We ask questions, uncover motivations, define purpose, and collaborate with our clients to explore what’s possible. For example, if we’re exploring a use case for a product and the intended audience, our team is not afraid to ask about who or what else this product may be a solution for, suggest other opportunities, and prompt new ways of thinking through individual and shared experiences. 

Creativity is in our DNA and, as communicators, we pride ourselves on working with fellow female leaders as partners to continue innovating, collaborating and communicating their unique voices and messages in the industry.

DSN: Can you provide insights into the long-term vision for Bolt PR’s efforts to empower women in consumer products and the impact you hope to make in the coming years?
CC: Bolt PR has found a niche in partnering with consumer products companies and the brilliant minds behind these innovative products. Our vision has not wavered over the past nearly 17 years: simply put, we’re here to make an impact. We’re here to be an integral partner to consumer products brands—to put them on the map, to tell their stories, and to highlight the people behind these brands who make the offerings all the more special. In doing this, we enjoy the continued opportunity to meet and elevate the profiles of women in the consumer products space. We see our role as one of empowerment - to work in partnership to uncover their narratives, define their thought leadership platforms, and create opportunities for them to educate, inspire and encourage not just women, but an entire category. We see our role as continuing to make impact by spotlighting perspectives and, as a women-led agency, amplifying the voices of our fellow women in consumer products.

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