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What’s Brewing? With Laura Stengrim, public relations & marketing communications manager for DigiKey

Did you know that Min­neso­ta is home to essen­tial­ly the “Ama­zon” of elec­tron­ic com­po­nents – those pieces and parts that make up the tech­nol­o­gy in your cell phone, lap­top, car, smart home devices and more? DigiKey is the glob­al leader in the cut­ting-edge com­merce dis­tri­b­u­tion of elec­tron­ic com­po­nents and automa­tion prod­ucts, and they are locat­ed in Thief Riv­er Falls, Minn., about five hours north of the Twin Cities.

Bell­mont Part­ners has part­nered with DigiKey since 2019 on all things exter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tions, includ­ing media rela­tions, trade show sup­port, con­tent devel­op­ment, cri­sis com­mu­ni­ca­tions and much more. We are thrilled to work with one of the largest pri­vate com­pa­nies in Min­neso­ta, and recent­ly sat down with Lau­ra Sten­grim, pub­lic rela­tions & mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ag­er for the com­pa­ny, to chat about her first year at DigiKey, their recent brand refresh, and what she thinks about work­ing in the inno­v­a­tive elec­tron­ics industry.

Con­grat­u­la­tions on one year at DigiKey, Lau­ra! How has the tran­si­tion been from the tourism mar­ket­ing space to the elec­tron­ic com­po­nents dis­tri­b­u­tion space?

Thank you so much! The tran­si­tion was bit­ter­sweet. I absolute­ly loved my job with Vis­it Thief Riv­er Falls, and I was for­tu­nate enough to be the exec­u­tive direc­tor for 14 years, so it was very famil­iar. The process­es, projects and cam­paigns flowed like a well-oiled machine. I had the plea­sure of being very tied into the com­mu­ni­ty, so I had a giant sup­port sys­tem I could count on and leav­ing that was scary. But I was ready for a new chal­lenge, and I have def­i­nite­ly been chal­lenged mov­ing into a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent indus­try with a fair­ly steep learn­ing curve. How­ev­er, with that chal­lenge, has come growth, and I con­sid­er myself for­tu­nate to have been giv­en this growth oppor­tu­ni­ty – both pro­fes­sion­al­ly and personally.

What has been the most sur­pris­ing part of mov­ing from a most­ly B2C mar­ket­ing role to more of a B2B role?

My biggest sur­prise while step­ping into this role has been the tech­ni­cal knowl­edge that is need­ed to feel ful­ly con­fi­dent in the role. Some may say that “mar­ket­ing is mar­ket­ing,” no mat­ter what you’re pro­mot­ing; but I don’t think that’s true. I came from a posi­tion with Vis­it Thief Riv­er Falls pro­mot­ing our city to overnight vis­i­tors and it was quite sim­ple to learn about all of the great things that drew peo­ple here.

But DigiKey is a com­plex, glob­al tech com­pa­ny that sells prod­ucts to com­pa­nies that lit­er­al­ly change the world in indus­tries such as med­ical, aero­space, auto­mo­tive and mil­i­tary. Since day one, I’ve been learn­ing tech­ni­cal engi­neer­ing terms, elec­tron­ic prod­uct clas­si­fi­ca­tions and acronyms that I had nev­er heard of before. The com­fort zone that I stepped out of is long-gone and I’m expand­ing my brain every day, which is exhilarating.

Have there been any chal­lenges along the way?

I’ve been chal­lenged to hum­ble myself and ask for help… a lot. I’ve prob­a­bly asked more ques­tions in the last year than I have in the last 10 years, but the sub­se­quent knowl­edge that has fol­lowed is invalu­able. Jack Can­field said, “A com­fort zone is a beau­ti­ful place, but noth­ing ever grows there.” That is one of my favorite quotes and sum­ma­rizes this last year perfectly.

The Bell­mont Part­ners team has been there to help with every ques­tion or request I have had. They are a wealth of knowl­edge in the world of PR, but also regard­ing DigiKey as a whole. I’ve learned a tremen­dous amount from our account reps., Shel­li, Megan, Angela and Johan­na! And no, they didn’t pay me to say that.

What has been the high­light of work­ing at DigiKey this past year?

It’s dif­fi­cult to choose just one high­light, so I’ll men­tion my top three. DigiKey broke ground on their Prod­uct Dis­tri­b­u­tion Cen­ter expan­sion (PDCe) in 2017 and when it was ready to offi­cial­ly open in 2022, I was hon­ored to serve on the event plan­ning team for the rib­bon cut­ting cer­e­mo­ny. It includ­ed a lun­cheon and pro­gram from dig­ni­taries such as MN DEED Com­mis­sion­er Steve Grove and our exec­u­tive team. DigiKey pro­vid­ed tours of the PDCe and end­ed the day with a press con­fer­ence. We are thrilled at the excite­ment the com­mu­ni­ty and indus­try showed around this huge milestone.

The sec­ond high­light was trav­el­ing to Munich, Ger­many in Novem­ber 2022 for elec­tron­i­ca, the world’s largest elec­tron­ics expo. Our team coor­di­nat­ed over 20 press inter­views at the event, so I was able to meet the EMEA edi­tors that we have such a close work­ing rela­tion­ship with. I also had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to gain so much knowl­edge about our com­pa­ny and the elec­tron­ics indus­try by sit­ting in on the inter­views that week. It was an expe­ri­ence I’m very grate­ful for and won’t soon forget.

The final high­light was in Jan­u­ary 2023 when I was able to meet some­one I look up to immense­ly – U.S. Sen­a­tor Amy Klobuchar. We invit­ed Sen­a­tor Klobuchar to the PDCe rib­bon cut­ting cer­e­mo­ny last year, but she was unable to attend, so while she was in the area vis­it­ing oth­er major projects she stopped by and toured the PDCe. Our team worked hard (and swift­ly) to cre­ate talk­ing points for our exec­u­tive team who met with her after the tour, and we also pro­vid­ed brief­ing doc­u­ments for her team.

What’s brew­ing at DigiKey this spring—what’s next?

Things move quick­ly at DigiKey, and with over 5,000 employ­ees, there’s always some­thing brew­ing. Our team is cur­rent­ly assist­ing with our brand refresh, coor­di­nat­ing press inter­views for a few upcom­ing trade shows, writ­ing press releas­es, sub­mit­ting award nom­i­na­tions and every­thing “PR-relat­ed” in between. One of the things I love most about this posi­tion and this com­pa­ny is that there is nev­er a dull moment.

To wrap it up, what’s brew­ing in your glass these days?

Sum­mer is final­ly here in north­west Min­neso­ta, so cit­rus beers are fre­quent­ing my glass late­ly. My cur­rent favorite is Cider Boys Grand Mimosa, but Leinenkugel’s Sum­mer Shandy is always a clas­sic this time of year.

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