Palm Beach County's Latina Entrepreneur of the Year provides advertising, PR with a Latin flavor
By Dennis Glade
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
WEST PALM BEACH — Fresh off being named Latina Entrepreneur of the Year in Palm Beach County, Colombian-born Claudia-Ruiz Levy is working every day to improve her surroundings. She is the owner of the West Palm Beach-based CRL Media, a company that provides advertising and public relations with a niche in the Hispanic market.
In 2005, with the help of the Red Cross, Ruiz-Levy launched the Spanish initiative program that helped the Hispanic community obtain information during hurricane season and other emergencies. Ruiz-Levy also formerly served as the chairman of volunteers for the Greater Palm Beach Area Chapter of the American Red Cross, where she received the Public Relations Award in 2007 and served as a Spanish spokesperson for several years.
Hometown: Buenaventura, Colombia
Education: Bachelor's degree in advertising from the Catholic University at Manizales.
Family: Husband, Seth, and three dogs and two birds.
Your organization: I have three employees and a lot of contractors and that means that at certain times we can be just three of us and at other times on Christmas or Hispanic Heritage month we can be as large as 15. We do regular advertising for radio, print, social media as well as public relations. We are always focusing on the niche of the Hispanic market.
What was your first paying job and what did you learn from it? I was 10 years old and my aunt owned a store. One of the items they sold were shoes, so I wanted to help on vacations.
First break in business? I did my internship at global communications firm McCann Erickson and they hired me.
How has your field changed and what is your organization doing to adapt to that change? The biggest change has been the Internet, technology and social media. When I started the business, we didn't have Facebook or Twitter. Even the way we were connecting with clients was very different, it was more one-on-one over the phone and email in a small capacity. Now there is a lot of email and basically social media has changed for the Hispanic market. A lot of companies think that Hispanics don't use the Internet...
What do you see in the future for CRL Media? We have been trying to get into other counties. Right now, we are in Broward and Palm Beach County and we have some clients in the Treasure Coast. I think the next step is setting up a satellite office in Miami.
Best business book you've read? Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy. The book basically told me a lot of advice that to this day I follow. For example, don't take more than one client in the same industry.
Best piece of business advice you've received? It is something very simple that we take for granted, but is, "Get paid."
What do you tell young people about your business? That there are endless possibilities. A lot of people see you working in public relations and advertising and say, "You are on television." No, my clients are on television. When you are in advertising and public relations your client is the star.
A lot of people take it the other way and say that I want to be in that industry to be a star, but in reality your client is the star and you want that for them.
Many successful people learn from failure, did you experience a failure that you learned from? When I came to this country 14 years ago, I went to New York City and I thought the doors were just going to open, but I had to knock on a lot of doors to get one open. Don't let that get you down.
What do you see ahead for Palm Beach County? Recovery, I see it here in downtown West Palm Beach. I see it in my clients, they are telling me that things are moving forward.
What are you doing when you're not at the office? I am with my dogs. We go a lot to the movies, I love the outdoors, I love photography and spending time with my family.
What is the most important trait you look for when hiring? Passion. I like to work with people who are enthusiastic. They need to believe in the brand or the service for the clients they are working for.
Colombian-born Claudia Ruiz Levy started her career at one of the biggest ad agencies in the world: McCann-Erickson, where she handled local accounts as well as multinational accounts such as Bayer Pharamaceuticals, Goodyear, Casa Color and Gillete. She was later hired by Publiplan as creative director for accounts such as Bayer (Talcid and Aspirin), Piaggio (Vespa), B.D.F Healthcare, Ford Motors, Almacenes Si, Renovar, Lantik among others. She is a graduate of Manizales Catholic
University where she majored in advertising.
She moved to Princeton in 1998 to perfect her English and afterwards felt in love with New York where she worked in the entertainment publishing industry and attended the School of Visual Arts. This experience led her to rub shoulders with Latino personalities like Enrique Iglesias, Shakira, Rey Ruiz and Jose Feliciano, among others. After enduring three winters in the Big Apple, Claudia moved to Florida and became editor and director of “Revista Mas” Magazine. Working there she realized many small businesses in the area where looking for advertising consulting and help. She decided to embrace her entrepreneur spirit and open the first Hispanic advertising agency in West Palm Beach under the name “CRL MEDIA.”
At the same time, she served as Chairman of Volunteers for the Greater Palm Beach Area Chapter of the American Red Cross where she received the Public Relations Award and served as a Spanish spokesperson for several years. With the help of Red Cross staff, Claudia launched the Spanish initiative program that helped the Hispanic community endure and get essential info during hurricane season and other emergencies. She also lends her talent to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Una Mano Amiga Foundation, El Alma Hispana and other non- profits.
In 2012, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Palm Beach County named her "Latina Entrepreneur of the Year" and she received the Triunfo Award, which is the highest Distinction awarded among the Hispanic business community of Palm Beach County.
In her daily management of CRL Media, Claudia combines her passion for the community with her knowledge of the market. She is hands-on with the public relations aspect of the business and is in constant contact with CRL clients. She has counseled some of the largest companies (and the smallest) on market strategy and brand architecture - with an emphasis on marketing to niche audiences. She is a confessed social media addict and specially loves twitter.
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