Shelli leads Sam's Q&A!

Q&A with Bellmont Partners’ New Account Strategist, Sam Zender

As the cal­en­dar flips over to a new year; what bet­ter time to wel­come a new team mem­ber? We’re hap­py to intro­duce Sam Zen­der, the most recent addi­tion to Bell­mont Part­ners’ Pro­fes­sion­al Ser­vices and Pub­lic Affairs team.

Sam has put his wealth of exper­tise in every­thing from PR to cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions to state gov­ern­ment affairs to work from the moment he joined Bell­mont Part­ners in Octo­ber. Most recent­ly, he spent near­ly two years at a large PR agency where he worked with clients in health­care (includ­ing a large health plan), finan­cial ser­vices, con­sumer goods, and travel/entertainment. He also brings deep gov­ern­ment expe­ri­ence, includ­ing devel­op­ing leg­isla­tive pol­i­cy and media rela­tions strate­gies for state officials.

We sat down with Sam to talk about the inter­sec­tion of pub­lic rela­tions and pub­lic affairs, his love for dig­ging into com­plex top­ics, and why Bell­mont Part­ners seems like a per­fect fit.

You’ve held mul­ti­ple roles in both state gov­ern­ment and com­mu­ni­ca­tions agen­cies. How do those two areas fit together?

I believe both state gov­ern­ment and com­mu­ni­ca­tion agen­cies are mul­ti­fac­eted and solu­tion ori­ent­ed. In state gov­ern­ment, the focus is on address­ing com­mu­ni­ty issues and assist­ing indi­vid­u­als who approach offi­cials with con­cerns affect­ing their lives. Sim­i­lar­ly, com­mu­ni­ca­tion agen­cies work with clients seek­ing solu­tions for their mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion strate­gies. Both fields require quick learn­ing in diverse indus­tries and the abil­i­ty to gath­er infor­ma­tion to for­mu­late effec­tive pol­i­cy or com­mu­ni­ca­tion strategies.

What is it about agency life that res­onates with you?

I pri­or­i­tize being a gen­er­al­ist, con­sis­tent­ly cul­ti­vat­ing a well-round­ed mind­set through­out my aca­d­e­m­ic and pro­fes­sion­al jour­ney. Work­ing in an agency allows me to engage with diverse indus­tries and clients, con­tribut­ing to ongo­ing per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al development.

What drew you to Bell­mont Partners? 

Through­out the inter­view process and now work­ing along­side my tal­ent­ed col­leagues, I con­tin­ue to expe­ri­ence the excite­ment and col­lab­o­ra­tive spir­it with­in the agency. I feel a strong sense of belong­ing and appre­ci­ate our team-ori­ent­ed approach in col­lab­o­rat­ing with clients and partners.

What are your ini­tial impres­sions now that you’re dig­ging in?

Begin­ning to work at a new agency with new clients, there’s always a learn­ing curve. Yet already, there are tasks and oper­a­tions that I’ve nev­er worked on before, like pod­casts and devel­op­ing strat­e­gy for inno­v­a­tive com­pa­nies seek­ing to be trend-set­ters in their indus­tries. I’ve embraced the new process­es and have con­tin­ued my ambi­tion to being a life-long learn­er as a person.

You have a lot of expe­ri­ence across a num­ber of com­mu­ni­ca­tions dis­ci­plines, includ­ing pub­lic affairs. Which areas are you most excit­ed about?

I’ve always enjoyed pub­lic affairs. My first degree was in polit­i­cal sci­ence, and I took plea­sure in devel­op­ing leg­isla­tive pol­i­cy in my past career, pri­mar­i­ly in trans­porta­tion pol­i­cy. Since work­ing at a pub­lic rela­tions agency, I’ve loved learn­ing about the com­plex sub­ject of health­care. It’s a com­pli­cat­ed indus­try to under­stand, but tak­ing my expe­ri­ence of focus­ing on either the human or oper­a­tional ele­ment of the trade has helped me orga­nize the some­times niche areas that health­care can involve.

What can clients and col­leagues expect when they work with you?

Since grade school, I’m a researcher first. I seek to read and absorb top­ics to devel­op an under­stand­ing of the com­plex. From there, I can uti­lize my vary­ing expe­ri­ences and inter­ests to help solve prob­lems that can some­times be out of the box. I feel the gen­er­al­ist approach to my work can be more agile, effi­cient and esca­lates the abil­i­ty to make connections.

How do you spend your time out­side of work?

Every day I exer­cise and read. My work­outs are always planned a week ahead of time and my read­ing list is long and cov­ers a wealth of dif­fer­ent sub­jects. Out­side of day-to-day life, I love to trav­el and seek out new expe­ri­ences. I’ve been priv­i­leged to have lived in Wash­ing­ton, DC; Seat­tle, WA; and Greenville, SC; and con­tin­ue that quest of adven­ture after set­tling back in Min­neso­ta. Main­ly now, I trav­el to vis­it my fam­i­ly who live in South Car­oli­na. I’ll road trip down (17ish hours) and spend mul­ti­ple days trav­el­ing around the south­east region of the coun­try, going to the beach and moun­tains, sport­ing events and con­certs. I’m con­stant­ly seek­ing out new experiences.


Wel­come, Sam!

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