Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Small business helmed by Cal Poly Pomona alumnae

Young Entrepreneurs attribute success to soccer

By Sandra T. Molina Staff Writer

Posted: 05/11/2010 04:14:28 PM PDT


WEST COVINA - Cynthia Gurrola and Lisa Araujo had the athletic touch on the field as soccer players in high school and college.

Now as businesswomen, the two have the "creative" touch.

The young women are the founders and co-owners of Creative Touch Communications, a small marketing and public relations company.

The business, which is run for now out of an office in Gurrola's West Covina home, has a number of clients in the San Gabriel Valley and Whittier area.

Gurrola, 24, started doing public relations on a small scale in 2007.

But when she wanted to attain a higher level, she joined forces with Araujo, 26, of Rancho Cucamonga, and whom she had met briefly while both attended Cal Poly Pomona.

"I have always been an overachiever," Gurrola said. "And I wanted more than writing press releases here and there."

It was not until 2006 when their paths crossed again while both held coaching positions in a Diamond Bar competitive soccer club.

Araujo had been the captain of the Cal Poly women's soccer team and Gurrola was a standout at Walnut High School before blowing out her knee.

The former athletes, who are currently coaching two girls teams for the Claremont Stars Soccer Club, said the dedication and work they displayed on the soccer field has transferred to Creative Touch.

"I was the captain at Cal Poly," Araujo said, "where I had to balance being a leader on the field while excelling in the classroom. It's about multi-tasking."


For Gurrola, the 10- to 12-hour workdays are an extension of the long hours she put in as a student, coach and staff writer at a Walnut-based weekly newspaper.


"There's no complaining here," she said. "We're always going and we love it."


The hard work has paid off.


Their client base has grown from a few to more than 25 in the last year.


One of their clients, Dolores Canning Company, Inc. has been pleased with the service Creative Touch has provided to the family-owned company.


"They are a great team, very hard-working," said Dolores Canning co-owner David Munoz, 42, of San Gabriel.



"We couldn't be happier with the way they've represented our company," he said of the family-owned business, which produces specialty Mexican food products


"We strive to make each client feel as important as the next, and that has been proven by the number of new word-of-mouth clients," Araujo said.


But the current success hasn't been easy.


There were slow days.


They lost Gurrola's biggest account due to financial cut backs.

However, once things picked up they haven't looked back or wanted to.


Being young and female proved to be a weakness as well as a strength.


They've come across a small share of people who doubted their potential because of their age and/or gender.


There were also those who thought they could take advantage of the young entrepreneurs.


Araujo remembers when they provided service to a company who let its invoice go past due. When she responded sternly with a letter and plan of action, it came as a surprise to the business.


"We're tough and we're not going to let anyone under estimate that we're serious about this," she said.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

CTC History, Launch Party Finally Set

The workweek and weekends feel no different to Lisa Araujo and Cyndi Gurrola.

Saturdays and Sundays also consist of early rising, meetings and late nights on their laptops, just as each weekday can.

The young co-owners of Creative Touch Communications, a small marketing and public relations company, live for what each different day brings.

“We’re always going and we love it,” said West Covina resident Gurrola, 24.

Araujo, 26 and Gurrola started their company, which they proudly refer to as, “CTC,” in early 2009. They provide innovative marketing, public relations and design to small and recently, large businesses.  However, they brand themselves by customer service and “two-way communication.”  

“Any client who has worked with us can tell you we go above and beyond to provide customer service,” said Araujo. “We strive to make each client feel as important as the next, and that has been proven by the number of new word-of-mouth clients.”

CTC says PR and marketing doesn’t have to be a one-way street. They encourage clients to interact through the Internet, primarily social networking and blogging and present ways they can solve their clients problems.

“We encourage our clients to talk with their clients,” said Gurrola. “It’s not just about producing content or information about our clients, it’s about presenting how our clients can solve a problem.”

CTC helps clients with website and database design, writing news releases (distribution and follow-up), e-mail marketing, planning events and promotions and creating various types of collateral and marketing material through graphic design.

They have a small office space in Chino, but find most of their time spent in the field, at client’s or in various Starbucks Coffee in between meetings.

Their client base grew from a few to over 25 in the last year. Gurrola started the concept in 2007, but took her and the company’s focus to a new level when she joined forces with Araujo, who picked the name.

Araujo was a soccer stand out at Cal Poly Pomona and Gurrola, a Communications major, was a staff writer for Cal Poly’s newspaper. They met briefly at Cal Poly and became even better friends in 2006 when they both held coaching positions for a Diamond Bar competitive soccer club. In 2007 they began co-coaching for The Claremont Stars Soccer Club. They’ve been with the club since and have two girls’ teams.

They also manage some marketing and website work for The Stars.

Araujo earned a Bachelor’s in Business and Gurrola in Communications with an emphasis in PR. Gurrola worked in the newspaper and public relations industry since she was a senior in high school in 2003, and Araujo worked in human resources and purchasing since 2005.

They service clients from a number of industries, but 40 percent are from the restaurant industry; sit down and fast food restaurants and distributors. Their recent efforts include trying to provide marketing and PR services to a nationwide fast food chain. 

In July of this year, they also hope to open their own Quizno’s franchise in West Covina. They have been working with Quizno’s corporate since late March to acquire the West Covina store. Pending further negotiations, the two could also be some of the youngest franchisees in history.

They plan to use their marketing and PR expertise to help bring the store back to success, which closed the first week of April.

Beginnings are scary

While 2009 and early 2010 has yielded success it was a scary ride at the start and they’ve overcome many obstacles.

“Lisa wasn’t sure at first, and I’ll admit I was a little scared. The economy was tough and with a mortgage it was hard for her to leave her last position at a corporation,” said Gurrola.

At first, they both admit there were slow days, and the transition from what Gurrola had started to the birth of Creative Touch wasn’t picture perfect.

They lost Gurrola’s biggest account due to financial cut backs and at times it was slow.

However, once things picked up they haven’t looked back or wanted to.

Being young and female proved to be a weakness as well as a strength.

They’ve come across a small share of people who doubted their potential because of their age and/or gender, or who thought they could take advantage of the young entrepreneurs.

Araujo remembers when they provided service to a company who let their invoice go past due. When she responded sternly with a letter and plan of action, it came to them as a surprise.

“We’re tough and we’re not going to let anyone under estimate that we’re serious, about this,” she said. 

CTC’s Innovative Future

CTC is growing at a time when marketing and public relations are changing and have a large common area.

“The Internet is changing it all,” said Gurrola. “We have to keep a mix or traditional and new-era PR and marketing.”

CTC is always reading and learning to stay up-to-date on changes and new ways to market its customers.

One of CTC’s most common monthly PR and marketing packages includes developing an e-mail campaign, search engine optimization and help with social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. 

Most clients prefer CTC manages their website updates and changes as those go hand-in-hand with their marketing and PR strategies.  CTC has recently employed two graphic designers with great experience and an understanding of how to use design to brand. 

CTC will host a business mixer at The City Broiler in Chino Hills on Saturday, May 15 from 6-9 p.m. They will give a presentation about the company and then allow for people to mingle and enjoy appetizers and drinks.

For more information about Creative Touch Communications, visit

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The important role of journalism in PR & Marketing

Like many PR people, I began my communications career in print journalism. I began even before I knew what the AP Stylebook was. Yikes!
I began at the time when ad sales began to plummet and the future of newspapers in print became questionable. Over my college career, the Internet evolved at a very fast rate. All newspapers went on-line, most sharing all news and articles for free, with banner and button ads galore. That helped keep things going, but for the most part, the reality of newspaper’s history was setting in.
The first newspaper I ever worked for saw sales cut in half, and then in half again, and sold its assets to an on-line only news source. My college newspaper saw some major cutbacks. The staff went from earning a stipend and having a decent budget for coverage and diversity, to all being volunteers with little funds to spare.
Luckily, I had shifted my emphasis from journalism to public relations, but I still earned a minor in journalism and took all the required reporting and writing courses a journalism major was required to.
Throughout college, I was friends with the newspaper staff, not the PRSSA members. Journalism was my passion.
Now, I sit at the throne of a small PR & marketing company. Creative Touch Communications ( offers small businesses, non-profits and some individuals help with creating strategic game plans, which can include email marketing, graphic design, event management, website design, news release writing and media relations.
When I first meet with some individuals, presidents or managers they want to promote their product or service. They want to go on about it for pages and hours. My business partner and I have to tell them before any plan or line of content on a website is written, their want to share what they have to offer needs to change to a want to share how they can solve a problem for a client.
That makes all the difference. Then the problem solving needs to be brought into words. They hire us to do it, and the best way of doing that is putting on my journalism hat, not my marketing or PR hat. I need to be objective and get the facts out and relate those facts to the bottom line; how each client’s product or service solves a problem. One of my best relationships is with a free lance journalist, whom we often use to edit content we write for clients; news releases, features stories and so on. A journalistic writing style does not look like a solicitation or an advertorial. Journalists asks questions and deliver content that get the facts out and place an organization as having answers to your questions. Stepping away from the promotional angle PR and marketing people often use, gives an organization a great deal of credibility.
So, journalists, as the industry shifts, don’t forget you are much needed. You bring something to the table PR and marketing people don’t, and perhaps more jobs at PR and marketing firms will open up for those of you who have experienced cutbacks in your current positions.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

How do businesses go wrong?

The web is here and the Internet is everything and anything. From a simple small business, to corporations, everyone’s ideas, products and services are on-line.
Businesses are using Twitter and Facebook primarily to reach their buyers from a different, yet similar angle, and are very often redirecting fans and followers to their actual websites.
This is great!
But businesses go wrong once an interested reader is at their website. They know their information is useful or intriguing; why else would a person be browsing through their site? However, they require personal information, even beyond just a simple email in order to share those ideas.
One website boasts about its press release and public relations secrets. Of course a small business owner wants to know what they are, but they are required to give their own personal information to read it. More than likely, that deters them from ever knowing their secrets.
Who knows what could have been missed out on then? Maybe that person owns their own small business and would have posted links to their ideas on their own site, or maybe they would have recommended the ideas he or she read to friends and colleagues and created a small cult of followers of the ideas being presented.
Businesses allow people to read about who you truly are. Don’t just offer the standard information on the “about us” page or section, but offer your blog, your ideas, your passion, as written content on your site for FREE. It’s OK to ask for an email to receive further email blasts, updates or reminders, but don’t do it initially. Once people read about your ideas and insights, they will be lining up to hear more. I promise

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I evolved with the media, or did I?

I wrote my first article (outside of my high school and middle school newspapers) for my hometown community newspaper when I was a senior in high school. It was a 700-word article on a soccer game. Boring. Even better, I was on the team, and interviewed my own teammates and coaches. Bias? Heck yeah. But I wrote, and to see my name in the by-line was a trip.

Quickly the industry shifted, and reporters were making less, but I saw the advertising executives reaping the benefits. This was when the ad team and the editorial team rarely collaborated, and seldom crossed paths. This was how it worked. I realized I’d rather be a part of the ad team than the editorial team.

A couple years later, while studying Public Relations (journalism became my minor) at my college and while being a contributing writer to the school’s newspaper, I landed a job as an Account Executive for The PennySaver, an advertising newspaper book, which also had a classified website where people most commonly searched used furniture and puppies for sale. I was 19, and knew squat about the industry, but in a short period of time I learned a lot.

It was late 2006, and the 2007 tax season was approaching, as were the holidays. I was young, and I made a fortune, fast, too fast. It was too good to be true. I capitalized on the fact that I was young, Internet savvy, a fast talker and thinker, and could present myself professionally in any sales pitch meeting. I realized then, but just wouldn’t admit it, but I knew very little about sales, and even less about advertising.

By then I was 20, and school ate up all my free time. So in late 2007, after I had taken on a mortgage and treated myself to a new truck, I realized my sales were plummeting. Was it me? Had I lost my edge? I was still knocking on 20-30 doors per week, but maybe the magic number was 40. What I didn’t realize was that the media was evolving, but I wasn’t. We were already in the “post-advertising” era, but I was stuck in the advertising age. I couldn’t come out. Who could? With a near six-figure income and what felt like financial freedom, I would have done all I could to hold onto it.

I had lost my corporate accounts first. Those were first to go because the corporate camps had the tools to learn that the post-advertising age was here and that they needed to focus on other things: website, their own message, public relations, innovative marketing, and so on. They had PR execs, marketing directors, seminars and hosted speakers. My mom and pop advertisers caught on a little later to the trends, but when they did, the numbers fell again. It was gain one, lose 2. I couldn’t get ahead.

So, right before I received my Bachelor’s, I left my “dream job” and went to work for a wholesale foods company as a marketing and communications director. My eyes opened to PR and marketing. Things needed to change.

Here I was at the communications throne for a family-owned company that banked in over $50 million per year, but they didn’t even have a website. AHHH!! I was ready to pull my hair out.

What were they thinking?  No website, no collateral info, no way of expressing who they are. No PR or marketing campaign. I was doomed. And if they never believed in it before, why would they believe in it now? I tried, for almost a year, and then I realized I had a knack for this. I evolved with the media and was ready to tell people what I learned and knew.

We were in the post-advertising age. PR was not about articles and being named the best (although that still helps here and there), but it was about building an image through content, website, blogs, podcasts, rankings and linking in.

So, we created the company, Creative Touch Communications, an innovative marketing and public relations company. We don't just encourage clients to spend lavishly on campaigns or ways to gain the media's attention, rather we use a very powerful tool to help our clients reach their audience; the Internet.  A majority of CTC’s clients are small and growing, but together through promotions, brand building, article sharing, and more through the Internet community we’re all a part of, we have grown with our clients.

So, from my first newspaper layout with a glue stick and scissors in middle school, to my first published article, to where I am now, I feel like I’ve evolved with all these changes in the media.

Now it’s time to put it all to work…and continue to evolve.