By Brenda Matamoros
Photo by Amy Mayes Photography
Becoming a successful media spokesman or spokeswoman requires practice and precision. Cindi Creager and Rainie Cole, the married duo that make up CreagerCole Communications, have built a public relations business, offering media training, media relations, message development, public speaking preparation and interview coaching, with expertise in LGBT issues.
Their goal is to teach clients how to convey ideas simply but powerfully, while building rapport with their audiences. They are no-nonsense straightforward coaches with techniques to help mold a person into a poised, impeccable speaker who shines in the media spotlight.
“The media landscape we live in today can feel overwhelming — the 24/7 news cycle, more and more digital news outlets and multiple social media platforms,” Creager said. “Getting your unique message out amid a barrage of other information is challenging. What sets us apart is our disarming yet laser-focused approach. We put our clients at ease, while building up their confidence to promote themselves and their brands as clearly and effectively as possible. We teach them how to stand out in a crowded media environment.”
Creager, a former ABC News producer, earned a Master of Science from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Colleagues and professionals have told her that her compassion, grace, humility and listening skills are rare gifts not easily taught. She has used these talents to help academics, activists, athletes, attorneys, authors, executives and physicians, among others.
“My background in local and national news coupled with the media advocacy and communications positions I held at GLAAD and the New York City Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center were the springboards for starting this public relations firm,” Creager said. “My years running GLAAD’s National News Program also helped me become comfortable in my skin as an out gay woman. Coming from a conservative family and coming out at 29, it took me a while to be OK with me. Working at GLAAD and having an amazingly supportive wife and fabulous friends were the catalysts.”
Creager has prepared hundreds of people for high-profile media appearances on a range of national platforms including all the major broadcast and cable news networks, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and beyond. She media-trained James Franco before his press tour to discuss his part in the movie “Milk” and also prepped Laverne Cox before she did press around the premiere of her VH-1 reality show “TRANSform Me.” In addition, Creager has placed numerous stories and spokespeople in outlets ranging from The New York Times to USA Today to Time magazine. She says her top strength is in connecting authentically with people.
Cole moved to New York City to be a singer/actress and spent much of her early life there as a performer. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in theater & communications from the University of New Hampshire. She also earned her membership in the Director’s Guild of America while working for ABC News “Good Morning America” as a script, tape and graphics coordinator and production assistant. She has written, produced, promoted and performed in numerous cabaret shows and appeared in the off-Broadway, gay-themed hit “Ten Percent Revue” at the Actors’ Playhouse in Greenwich Village.
Her greatest theatrical achievement was one of the most critically and commercially acclaimed shows in cabaret history — “Always, Patsy Cline.” Cole conceived, co-wrote, promoted and produced the show, winning a Manhattan Association of Cabarets & Clubs Impersonation/Characterization/Drag Artist award for her performance. She later brought the production to Chicago, Illinois, and Portland, Oregon.
During this time, Cole realized she had a knack for how to promote herself. Now — through CreagerCole Communications — she loves her job of promoting other people. “I used to be wrapped up in my own performing career,” she said. “Now, I find joy in elevating the voices and talents of others. My greatest source of inspiration is promoting those who do things for the greater good.”
Cole came out in the early 70s when it wasn’t easy to do. “I never hid my truth again,” she said. “That honesty has been my trademark, both personally and in business. Being my authentic self has been the key to success in work and in life.”
Creager and Cole have been in business for three years and over time came to realize that when they first started out they were undercharging for their work.
“Which meant we were undervaluing ourselves and the value of our services. That was a rookie mistake of being entrepreneurs, but we have overcome it through the help of our amazing business coach, Ann Jenrette-Thomas, and the advice of mentors at the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce New York like Rob Finkelstein and Ingrid Galvez,” Cole agreed.
Highlights of their time in business include promoting the amazing work of organizations like the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, Family Equality Council, Arcus Foundation, True Colors Fund and others, as well as credit card startup EqualityCard®, the card that allows business and consumer cardholders to donate 1 percent of their purchases to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender nonprofits of their choice.
CreagerCole Communications recently became an LGBT-certified business.
“We’re extremely excited about being a newly certified lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender business enterprise,” Creager said. “It was a no-brainer for us to become a visible, lesbian-owned public relations supplier. We want to engage with large, medium and small U.S. businesses and discuss how CreagerCole can best augment their communications needs, whether that’s taking on a special public relations project that may or may not be LGBT-focused or training executive teams to be savvier media speakers. Through certification, we know our business is poised to grow dramatically.”