We Want To Know: Debra Goldblatt-Sadowski of Rock-It Promotions
The more I get to know the public relations industry and the people who work in it, the more I think it’s a field that I would enjoy working in. I even know the person who I would most like to work for and that’s PR veteran Debra Goldblatt-Sadowski. Debra is the founder of Rock-It Promotions, a public relations agency that she launched in January of 2000 from the spare bedroom of her parents’ house, and she has since grown the company to represent a long list of both established and new & cool clients, employing 25 people in an office space in downtown Toronto, and, for the second year in a row, has earned a position on The Profit 500, this year ranking 328 on a list of 500 of Canada’s fastest growing companies. Since first meeting Debra a couple of years ago, I’ve admired her and the successful company she built, and it was a pleasure getting to know more about her for this feature. I’m inspired by her confident leadership style, her philanthropic values, and the positive environment she’s created for her team to thrive in.
Debra initially found her way into public relations when she realized she could combine her passion for creativity (Debra has a degree in Creative Writing from Concordia University in Montreal) with her knack for sales from having worked in telemarketing, and took on a job as an assistant with a small agency that involved writing and pitching, and she discovered she was good at it. She left that job to the dissatisfaction of her manager to go on a trip with her mother who was dying of cancer, and it was the best decision she ever made, for it was the last trip they would ever take together. As Debra grieved the loss of her mother, she was also struggling with how she would make her place in this world, and Debra looks back on this dark period with significance, both personally and professionally, as these were the early days of Rock-It’s formation.
Debra launched Rock-It on her own, but she is clear that the agency isn’t about her - in conversation, she consistently uses the pronoun ‘we’ over ‘I’ and is quick to recognize her hard-working team, and that includes people from both past and present. Debra embodies this team spirit and leads by example - she instituted a culture committee at the Rock-It office with the goal of engaging staff members personally, professionally and socially, “turning colleagues to ‘frolleagues’/’froworkers’ (friends + colleagues/friends + coworkers).” The four pillars of the culture committee focus on wellness, education, giving back to the community and setting aside time to celebrate their wins. As a team, agency staff take fitness classes together, attend learning seminars, participate in fundraising activities, and share in group events such as attending Blue Jays games or spending an evening sailing along the Toronto harbour. The team does all this together and so much more. With a fun and happy work environment such as this, you can see why I would like to work for Debra! As well, a happy office environment in turn makes clients happy, and Debra attracts the best of them. She looks back proudly on her work with Toronto Fashion Week, and having launched hotels such as The Drake and, more recently, the new Broadview Hotel. She’s also excited about the diverse projects and events that she and her team just launched, like Northern Maverick Brewing Co., one of Toronto’s newest craft breweries, and Frank And Oak’s first womenswear-exclusive shop. Debra and her team at Rock-It are also behind the promotion of the Boobyball fundraiser, an event that supports raising awareness and donations for the Rethink Breast Cancer charity.
Fundraising and working with charities is important to Debra, and I admire her commitment to giving back. Debra has made philanthropy an integral part of her life since first getting involved in fundraising while at Concordia. One of the first jobs she took when starting out on her own was working on a fundraiser for a women’s shelter. I support her belief that the more you have, the more you have to give back; she even has a tattoo of a circle on her arm to remind her of this - it symbolizes for her that what goes around comes around. Debra made a very strong impression on me when I first met her and she continues to inspire me. I think that she is a wonderful mentor. I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know Debra as much as I have !
Keep up with Rock-It Promotions by following their blog On The Fourth Floor on Want.Canada - it’s a great resource for weekly events happening in Toronto, keeping up with the trends, getting introduced to awesome clients, and, my favourite feature, “Media, Darling” that shines a spotlight on media personalities through a quick Q&A with them.
Want more? Here’s what #WeWantToKnow from Debra herself:
I can't start my morning without... cuddles from my kids, lemon water and a big coffee with almond milk.
I have a weakness for... my husband. We got engaged after only six months. We’ll be married 12 years this winter. He makes me laugh every day (even when I really don’t want to) and he’s got the dreamiest blue eyes. I also rarely turn down a hot slice of pizza, a good scotch (one rock) and junky TV like the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise.
Most people don't know that I... started my business from a spare room in my parent’s house and do not have a PR or business degree.
Currently reading... Come Away With Me by Karma Brown.
I want... Obama to come back; global warming to slow down; my kids to be healthy and general world peace. But on a superficial level? I’d like to do yoga more often, see Dear Evan Hanson in NYC and a bottle of Oud Ispahan by Christian Dior would be nice.
Many thanks Debra, for participating in #WeWantToKnow! It's a huge honour to feature you. :)
The #WeWantToKnow series is published on behalf of Wantfolio Group for Want.Canada and showcases and supports the leaders and talent in the Canadian creative arts community. Visit Want.Canada for all Canadian news, blogs, photo sharing & messaging.