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South Florida's Best and Brightest
Originally published: Monday, August 1, 2011 (12:03:32 a.m. ET)

Tara Solomon
Tara Ink President and Founder Tara Solomon. (Photo courtesy of Tara, Ink.).
Tara Solomon
Her client-list reads like a veritable directory of American real estate, pop culture, fashion, and beauty icons. Too many names to even know where to begin listing them all. Before creating her own agency, the eponymous TARA, Ink., she penned an advice column dubbed "Queen of the Night" in the pages of The Miami Herald. That was more than a full decade ago. These days, the incomparable Tara Solomon runs three public relations offices, one in Los Angeles, a second in Philadelphia, and the other here on Miami Beach. Driven by an undeniable, relentless pursuit to create the perfect campaign, the hottest signature event, the most precise message-branding for those who've entrusted to her their life's work, Solomon has carefully fused on each coast a team comprised of the brightest minds from the marketing, advertising, journalism, and entertainment backgrounds. A native of Cape Coral, Fla., Solomon graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in television and film.

Q: What advice would you give youngsters who want to embark on a career in your industry?
A: A degree in public relations would be nice, but is not essential. What is essential: understanding the industry and its tools - strategy, writing, story placement, social media, special events and marketing campaigns - as well having a good grasp on popular culture. Public relations is so much more than throwing parties. There are plenty of good blogs devoted to the PR industry; read them religiously, as well as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New York Post and everything else influential. One cannot read enough, especially in this industry. Get to know the written voice of the columnists you will one day be pitching. And do your research before you interview with a PR firm, even if it's just for an internship. Many applicants are too cavalier, I find. They haven't done their homework and it shows in their speech. Brush up on your writing and social media skills. Get a Twitter account, if you don't have one already. As with anything in life, you will get out of this crazy world of PR what you put into it.

Q: Of what professional accomplishment are you most proud?
A: In our 10 years as a firm, there have been so many successes that it's difficult to pinpoint just one. The most recent accomplishment was the finale runway show for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim that IMG, the event's organizer, asked us to take ownership of. We coordinated the four designers and every aspect that goes into a fashion show and packed the Cabana Grande tent for a 10 p.m. closing show on a rainy Monday. There were so many photographers in the media pit, and the energy in the crowd was insane. Just before the show started, as the lights were slowly being brought up in the darkened space, I could see a sea of lit cell phones being held up - the modern equivalent of holding lighters up at a concert, in anticipation of the first look down the runway. As I glanced around the tent, a wave of happiness and pride washed over me. Everyone at my firm had worked so hard during Swim Week, and this moment was the culmination of our efforts. And we had blown it out of the water.

Q: What's the most challenging part about your work?
A: As a co-principal and co-owner, there's a lot of HR and management involved. I also review all the financial documents and, being the writer of the agency, as it were, I approve every press release, tweet and e-blast subject line. The multitasking, and the time it takes to do everything, can be a challenge.

Q: What did you envision doing for a living when you were growing up?
A: I have always wanted to be a writer, living somewhere glamorous and being involved in different activities that I was passionate about. So I suppose I am, on many levels, living my childhood dream. I also envisioned, however, being a smoky-voiced chanteuse with a cabaret act, but that may have to wait a few years.

Q: In ten years' time, I will be _________________.
A: A successful published author with an affinity for singing Cole Porter in French.

Q: Who are/were your professional role models and why?
A: I always gravitated to powerful women who were intelligent, elegant and gracious, such as Letitia Baldrige, or clever and funny, such as Nora Ephron.

Q: If you could do anything else in the world for a living, what would it be?
A: I'd love to be a global hospitality consultant, not unlike the mystery shopper version of a hotel guest, traveling the world and staying at different properties, then rating the experience for management. I'm extremely detail-oriented, which can be as much curse as blessing, and I see things that most people do not. And I've had enough four- and five-star travel experiences around the world to know what exemplary looks like.

Q: What's the best part about your job?
A: It's three-fold: the ability to learn something new every day, work with many of the most talented and interesting people in their industries, and see the growth of our team members as they advance in their knowledge and confidence. It's extremely rewarding to see someone who started out as a timid intern become a strong publicist scoring weekly placements on "The Today Show." And that, I'm happy to report, is an actual TARA, Ink. success story.

Q: What's the worst part about your job?
A: I have to admit I'm not a big fan of reminding the team to clean the microwave after they use it, or to keep their food in the refrigerator current. My personality type is Mommie Dearest-obsessive, clearly. And it drives me nuts when they blame it on the interns, LOL.

Q: What's the one most important thing that experience has taught you?
A: In a world where perception is reality, you're only as good as your last press release or your last event, so make every action count. And proofread everything, again, and again, and again.

Q: What's the best career advice anyone has imparted on you?
A: The squeaky wheel gets the grease - in other words, speak up for what you want. I think it's important to define our goals and take daily action to accomplish them, including verbalizing our needs.

Q: What's the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened during your career?
A: Way back in the beginning of TARA, Ink., our office was in my apartment. On the morning a new assistant was starting, I escorted her to the home office where I was shocked to discover my cocktail dress and shoes from the night before in a heap on the floor. I apparently disrobed in the office and just left everything there, like an errant teenager. Not my finest moment.

Q: What's your favorite South Florida charity?
A: The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida has done such phenomenal work in making wishes come true for so many South Florida children with life-threatening medical conditions. It's a blessing for the entire Wish family. Make-A-Wish of Southern Florida is the nation's leading chapter in wish granting. This year, its goal is to grant 500 wishes. We're super excited for the November 5th annual gala, held at the InterContinental Miami. The celeb emcee will be Gabrielle Anwar, star of TV's Burn Notice, and the event's fundraising effort will take the charity to the $10 million mark. Just incredible.
Archive: 20 Good Questions
Best & Brightest: June 2011