(Editor’s note: Today’s post kicks off a series that profiles successful ASU alumni and shares their tips for succeeding in today’s career marketplace.)
Crystal Patriarche has found an unusual niche in the public relations world. Her firm, SparkPoint Studio, located in Tempe, publishes the work of authors, as well as promoting their books – an uncommon mix of services that has her firm prospering.
After graduating from the Walter Cronkite School of Mass Communication in 1998 with a degree in journalism that focused on public relations, her first job after graduation was in Seattle, with a global PR firm representing Microsoft. After a decade working for that and several other agencies, she set up business for herself in Arizona, and that is where her firm’s specialty came into focus.
“I just happened to take on a client who was an author, because I love to read,” she said.
SparkPoint Studio was officially created as that side of her business grew, and it has expanded significantly.
“I’ve now done PR for 450 authors and 25 different publishers,” she said. “We have 15 people on staff here in Tempe, and other team members across the country.”
In 2014, the firm added publishing to its repertoire, and has since published more than 230 authors. Some books have won awards, some have been sold internationally, and one has been signed for a movie with Universal. The firm also recently took over management of SheWrites.com, an online community for female authors.
Patriarche says her education at ASU prepared her for this career path.
“The Walter Cronkite School has a really great reputation. There are a lot of hands-on opportunities, and I felt prepared to really go out and try new things,” she said.
Remembering her ASU experience, Patriarche implemented an internship program when SparkPoint was in its infancy.
“Interns have an opportunity to come in here semester after semester and get really hands-on experiences because that’s what I felt I had at ASU.”
Patriarche is riding a wave of publishing industry change, something she clearly relishes. “There (are new) online ways to publish and reach new people. I think we’re literally at the forefront of that innovation. We’re disrupting the traditional industry and opening up new ways for authors to tell and share their stories.”
For those wanting to make it as an author or publisher, Patriarche’s advice is something that has been given to writers for many generations: write everyday.
“Even when you don’t feel like it. It’s literally like any other career, you have to practice and stretch your muscles,” she said.
While Patriarche has been busy delivering and promoting the stories of hundreds of writers, it’s clear she has written quite a business story of her own.
~Abby Zufelt, a student in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication