By KENDALL GILFILLAN
The Franklin-based boutique agency, LEGACY Consulting, PR & Events, combines the best in sports, entertainment, corporate and non-profit services. At the helm is Tresa Halbrooks, who founded the agency in 2012. This unique firm offers a highly specialized perspective in public relations, branding and complete event production to their impressive roster of clients. Halbrooks works with a variety of individuals and organizations that include professional athletes, sports leagues, country artists, entertainers, corporate entities and non-profit organizations.
After spending nearly two decades directing public/community relations and events for well-known organizations like the NFL Franchise Tennessee Titans, Gaylord Entertainment and Service Merchandise, she decided to launch her own creative agency. She’s coached some of the most talented and illustrious personalities in the sports, entertainment and corporate CEO’s during her career.
In addition, she’s produced some of the most prestigious events in the country like the Annual Waiting for Wishes Celebrity Waiters Dinner hosted by Super Bowl Champion Kevin Carter and Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts that benefits Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee and country artist Carrie Underwood’s STORYTELLER Album Launch event that wowed the music industry and media. Regardless of the event or PR campaign, Halbrooks says that their priority is to help their clients make a difference in their industry and community.
Q: What made you decide to start your own company?
A: There were definitely a few moments that made it clear that there was a need. For example, I got a call from a very high-profile star NFL player based in New York that asked for my assistance with his personal foundation charity event. We had never met, but one of my former athletes suggested he call me. When I explained that he should have resources in New York, he told me that he didn’t feel like he had someone with a concentrated specialty he could rely on and wanted my help.
As a celebrity athlete, he was also challenged with finding someone that wanted to be involved for the right reasons, not just because of who he was. At the time, I wasn’t in a position to assist him other than give him some pointers over the phone.
That was a defining moment for sure. It took several years after that phone call to launch the company, but it got my wheels turning in the right direction. To know that I could serve more people in a variety of industries and markets across the country was very appealing to me. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of more people that needed direction. I wanted God to use me. There were so many conversations I had with celebrities and CEOs about who they were as a person, not as an athlete, not as the business tycoon, but who they wanted to be remembered as a person.
That’s where I came up with the name LEGACY, because, in the end, it always came back to that in conversation. “What’s your legacy?” That was the question I would ask, not realizing it would eventually become the tagline of the company.
Q: What’s your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
A: Becoming an entrepreneur is the greatest opportunity we have in this country. Being in charge of your own destiny is a true blessing and it certainly has been for me. I love that there are no limits. I don’t have someone telling me what we can and cannot do. Throughout my career, there were times that I may bring an idea to the table, only to be told that we can’t do it for whatever the reason. The freedom of being your own boss is magnificent. There are no limits. It’s truly liberating. I remember telling a friend that I felt unbridled and able to run free.
With no risk, there’s no reward. I often felt like I was jumping off a diving board and hoping I had enough water in the pool below to catch me. Thankfully, the water has been warm and inviting.
For those who have been considering starting their own business, even if it’s a side business, I highly recommend it. You never know until you try. Becoming a small business owner can empower someone beyond what they ever imagined. I also enjoy being able to work with the brands, companies and people that we really want to work with. It’s been a gift.
Q: What advice would you give our readers to get ahead in their career?
A: I grew up in a generation that believed that hard work will be rewarded. In my experience, the power of hard work and desire to prove yourself will take you far in your career. I am always impressed with a staff member who puts in extra time and effort to make sure that their work is precise.
It’s not enough to just do your job, but doing it very well that is most important. My advice is to find ways to set yourself apart from others in your office. If you can anticipate the needs of the company before your boss asks for it, that will show your superiors that you are thinking about the big picture. I have a running joke with one of my staff members, who does this well. She really enjoys being able to hand me something at the very moment I ask her to do it. “I’ve already done that,” is her favorite statement to me. That type of thinking and work ethic by an employee becomes invaluable to any organization. I have found that type of employee will have more flexibility and reward than others in the office because they prove their worth.
Q: What do you recommend to those wanting to find something meaningful and fulfilling to do in their career?
A: Finding something that fulfills your heart’s desire is so important. I often say that a lot of our work is a “paycheck of the heart.” You may not have an obvious opportunity to so something heartfelt in your workplace, but that doesn’t mean that the opportunity doesn’t exist.
Many corporate offices have philanthropic efforts that their staff can get involved in. Corporate giving and philanthropy is more common now than ever. We consult with corporate entities about their philanthropic programs and how to get more involved in the community and allowing their employees to drive the programs that matter most to them.
If your company does not have charitable efforts, you may want to approach your boss to see if there is an opportunity for you to lead the charge, recruit employee volunteers or lead a holiday effort to give back. The holidays are a perfect time to give back to others.
It’s not hard to find a holiday program that serves your community, whether it’s through your church or area non-profit. Feeding the homeless, leading a toy drive or adopting a family in need this holiday is certainly available. Finding something that fills your heart with joy, whether it’s through your company or on your own, is going to help with that work/life balance. You feel better when you’re giving back. That’s the foundation that LEGACY was built on.
Q: Do you think professionalism is important?
Yes, professionalism is a crucial element in the workplace. In today’s casual work environment, professionalism can often get lost. However, it’s one of the most important qualities that I look for in a new hire along with discernment.
A professional attitude, behavior and work attire are still highly desired qualities that seem to be harder and harder to find. I also encourage young talent to be very careful on social media. You must think about what future employers will look at years down the road. Professionalism on social media is a must as well.
You may not think that your personal social media platforms have anything to do with your work life, but can certainly impact the perception of who you are. Having an overall professional demeanor and strong work ethic will take you farther in your career than you might expect.