By Elizabeth Anna Valla
Columbus Telegram, Neb.
Columbus High graduate Kelly Krause always loved working with people.
After being told she was too nice of a Nebraska girl to work in publicity, she made sure to use it to her advantage, recently earning distinction as one of Marie Claire’s top 50 most connected women in America.
The 32-year-old was recognized in the magazine’s “New Guard” section of the November issue for gracefully climbing her way to the top of her profession as a publicist for South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, Texas.
The annual SXSWi Festival is an event established for the creative kind, spanning all industries to discuss emerging trends, advance careers and share ideas while showcasing up-and-coming technologies and industry leaders. SXSWi is best known for its association with Twitter, as the festival is where the social media site was first introduced in 2007.
Krause was only 28 years old when she discovered the Austin-based company and although she didn’t have the best grasp on what exactly SXSW was, she didn’t let that stop her from taking a shot at it, knowing trying was the best way to get her foot in the door.
“I fell in love with Austin and the festival,” she said.
So Krause took the leap, leaving her job in Los Angeles, where she worked as a publicist leading campaigns for tech firms, indie films and television.
“I thought it would be a good next step,” she said.
The approachable personality others warned would hold her back is actually what got her to where she is today — the top.
As the SWSXi publicist, she focuses on cultivating relationships with top-tier media and tech firms, actively promoting the annual festival.
“I dig into my Rolodex and build on those relationships I’ve already established,” Krause said.
“It’s not about what they can do for me, but more along the lines of how we can work together and collaborate,” she added.
She attributes her career success to her love of meeting new people.
“This job feeds off of creativity, innovation, being around a lot of people, collaborating. I think that’s why I’ve really excelled,” she said. “I love my job.”
In her line of work, Krause gets to rub elbows with a lot of influential people who are often in the public eye. The key to dealing with it all is staying humble.
“If you want to get ahead, be nice,” she said. “Put your ego in the backseat.”
Her humble attitude was made evident when she first received the email from Marie Claire telling her she made the “New Guard” list.
“I thought I was going to be forwarding it to someone else,” she said with a laugh. “I had to open it up and read it again.”
Though she stopped for a bit to bask in the honoring moments of the award ceremony in New York, she got right back to the daily grind.
“We basically never stop planning. If we don’t have a place for ideas in 2015, we’ll put them on the back burner for 2016,” she said. “We’re always a couple steps ahead.”
Her best advice for anyone trying to climb the corporate ladder — never turn down a meeting request and always be nice because you never know when your paths will cross again.
Others who earned a spot alongside Krause on the 2014 “New Guard” list were celebrities like “Parks and Recreation” actress Rashida Jones, actress Jessica Alba and Jennifer Lee, the writer and co-director of the hit movie “Frozen.”