What LinkedIn Doesn’t Know About Kim Farlow … And I Do

LinkedIn asks a lot of questions.

On Sunday, it asked me about Kim Farlow, a friend and professional mentor I’ve known for 18 years.

Here’s what the popular social media site with some 225 million users wanted to know.

Little did LinkedIn’s algorithmic-driven coders know that this UNC journalism graduate is one of the country’s top PR pros and that on May 15 she will receive Virginia’s highest PR honor. At The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Kim will receive the 2013 Thomas Jefferson Award for Excellence in Public Relations.

“Winners of the Thomas Jefferson Award for Excellence in Public Relations exemplify the best in the profession,” according to the Richmond chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

About Kimberlie J. Farlow, APR

Kim, director of public relations at Big River Advertising in Richmond, is just as at ease developing a communications plan for a Fortune 500 client as she is organizing an office party that would make Martha Stewart envious.

Kim knows how to engage senior leaders. She is a champion for employee communications and understands how to connect with consumers. Did I mention she has a killer music memorabilia collection, a wicked sense of humor and fervently expounds on the merits North Carolina BBQ?

Unfortunately, LinkedIn can’t capture all of her impressive attributes.

What I learned from Kim

I first met Kim in June 1996 on the 19th floor of a high-rise building overlooking the James River. I was fresh off a year-long tour of America driving the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, and Kim was the head of advertising for Virginia Power (now Dominion). We clicked immediately. She got me, and I got her.

A few days later, I started working in employee communications. Kim was right across the hall and always there to answer my questions.

A few weeks after I started, Kim taught me a valuable lesson about public relations that I’ve carried ever since: anticipate the clients’ needs before they have them.

Here’s what happened.

Kim recruited me to help with a public event at the Science Museum of Virginia. There she stood with a walkie-talkie, a fanny pack filled with provisions and an endless supply of energy as she coordinated the setup of a massive stage along Broad Street.

Minutes before the event started Kim saw something she didn’t like: a scuffed floor on the black stage. She pulled me aside and said, “Run, and I mean run, to Pleasants Hardware and get me four cans of black spray paint.”

Luckily, I was 22 and could run a mile in about 6:15. I took off sprinting like Forest Gump in coat and tie and returned in just enough time for Kim to paint the stage before a bunch of suits took their seats. Kim quietly reinforced for me that details – even the smallest ones – matter.

Kim Farlow has defined her career by anticipating clients’ needs across a wide variety of businesses, organizations and nonprofits, including FeedMore and the Fan Free Clinic.

Congratulations and thank you, Kim!

We all can learn from you.

Jonathan Rhudy recently learned how to transform a run-of-the-mill folding table into a work of art thanks to Kim Farlow.