By Kim Ramsden
Missed birthdays, late nights away from home and tight deadlines were all part of Kristi Piehl’s job as an investigative news reporter. But the work was also exciting and rewarding. Kristi was one of the top reporters in the Twin Cities, Minnesota and had earned industry recognition—including an Emmy Award—as a compassionate storyteller. Yet she was yearning for a change. She wanted more balance between work and her growing family, but she also didn’t feel brave enough to walk away from a career she had dedicated more than a decade of her life to. Then a layoff forced her hand.
After the initial shock wore off, Kristi started feeling more confident about pursuing a career change away from journalism. She attended a workshop in her church’s basement that helped participants focus on connecting their passions to their career goals. That was when Kristi had an aha moment. She could create a business where she continued using her gift for storytelling to help other businesses tell and amplify their stories, and she could design it in a new way that allowed her to put her family first. That’s when the idea for Media Minefield was born.
She opened the business’s first checking account with a paycheck she earned from a speaking engagement—a moment that filled her with joy. It cemented that she was a real business owner and making a leap into entrepreneurship was the right decision. Kristi’s business began to steadily grow. Soon she was offered an opportunity to sign an exclusive agreement with a company that would bring Media Minefield national, but in order to deliver the services outlined in the agreement, she had to scale and grow the company. Seeing the potential to take her business to the next level, Kristi immersed herself in executive leadership training and getting to know other emerging CEOs.
Drawing from her own experiences and what helped her thrive in her new professional role—opportunity for development, positive work environment and personal life balance—Kristi began building a different kind of public relations agency. She put her favorite Ralph Waldo Emerson quote into action: “Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
With each additional employee, Kristi’s purpose gained momentum. While serving clients and providing top notch PR services was (and is) a top priority, making a positive impact on Media Minefield employees and their families is her purpose. A core value she lives by is what’s best for employees is best for the business. The company invests heavily in coaching, assessments, tools and value development so there’s an opportunity to make a positive impact on people’s lives, not just their careers.
Media Minefield created an internal role of an executive leader, which is completely dedicated to employees and their development path. The work environment can positively or negatively affect families, and that is a responsibility Kristi doesn’t take lightly. The company has dedicated team-building days, Margarita Fridays, a Miners Serve initiative where employees take 16 hours out of the workweek every year to volunteer at a charity of their choice, and Flight School, a development program Kristi designed to help employees grow professionally and personally so they can leave work every day better than they came.
The process Kristi developed for media placements during the first year when she was working alone is still used today. Having a team has improved that process; she calls it Newsability®. The company’s strengths are in messaging, earned media and her signature program around executive visibility known as Positive Online Presence℠. Media Minefield continues to attract clients and employees because of Kristi’s values of putting people first. She is growing comfortable in her role moving from storyteller to CEO, taking on new challenges and dreaming of even bigger opportunities for the company to blaze uncharted paths.
To learn more about Kristi’s business, visit Media-Minefield.com.
Photo: Media Minefield
About the author: With two decades of experience creating plans that move audiences to action, Kim Ramsden helps companies bring their vision and values to the forefront of their marketing mix.