Elevate Communications Founder & President Lindsay Colker ’95, communications executive & strategist, took some time to visit with us and tell us about her professional journey, as well as reminisce about her RLS days and friendships.

[Editor’s Note: This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for length and clarity.]

Q: From your RLS years until now, you have navigated a successful career path, from working for other companies, including Netflix, to opening and running your own PR company, Elevate Communications. Please share a little about this experience.

Lindsay Colker: I went to Santa Clara University and after college took a job at an advertising agency for a year in San Francisco, not because I was passionate about it, but because it was convenient and the closest thing to working in media. After a year of this job, I realized it wasn’t for me, and took a job as an executive assistant at a Private Equity firm working for two Partners. I loved being an executive assistant; I loved my bosses – and I was good at it – but it wasn’t my PASSION.

Then 9/11 happened, and it changed me. I realized how short life is and questioned why I wasn’t pursuing what I was always hungry for: entertainment, Hollywood, and living in LA. One month post-9/11, I quit my job, moved my stuff home, and a week later got a job offer working at Vivendi Universal Interactive as an executive assistant. I knew gaming and another executive assistant job wasn’t where I saw myself longterm, but I was also very clear with myself and the people I worked for that I saw it as a stepping stone to get me where I wanted to be.

Three months later, my dream job presented itself as an assistant working in the Media Relations department at Paramount Television. I spent two years working on iconic TV shows like “Frasier” and “Becker” and learning the ropes of publicity, and then left to take a job at a PR Agency. I was there for two years working on entertainment and lifestyle campaigns throwing myself into pitching the press. It was literally a crash course.

Following those two years, I went to Sony Pictures Television where I spearheaded TV publicity campaigns for shows like “The King of Queens,” “Justified,” “The Dr. Oz Show,” and more.

Seven years later, I got an opportunity of a lifetime to work for a company called Netflix, best known as a distributor of content and for its DVD business. They were moving into something called app-based television/streaming and launching original programming. They needed someone hungry, a hustler, who was ready to build something from the ground up and go where no one had ever gone. I started in November 2012, right before we launched “House of Cards”, and ultimately went on to launch the biggest shows of my career and the talent associated with them including: “Orange is the New Black,” “Stranger Things,” “The Crown,” “Arrested Development S4,” and so many more.

After 6.6 years at Netflix, I knew it was time for the next empowering step in my career – opening my own PR shingle- and so I did. Elevate Communications is a full-service, boutique PR agency specializing in entertainment, technology, and lifestyle. It’s been the most gratifying experience of my adult life.

Q: During your high school career, were there any moments that stand out as beneficial in preparing you for where you are now professionally? Were there any teachers who you found to play impactful roles?

L.C.: I’ve always been driven to excel, but it doesn’t come easy to me; I’ve always had to work hard at it. RLS taught me the value of good work ethic and the teachers made me feel that I mattered; they showed investment in me.

Teachers who made an impact on my life: Mr. Senuta – I loved how quirky, funny, and good-natured he was and how he bridged this into the math discipline; the late Señora Workman – she was a funny lady and tough too; and Mr. Biff Smith (and his corgis) -he brought character and comedy to the classroom.

Q: Your class, the Class of 1995, is a very special class full of wonderful alumni. Any favorite memories from time spent with your classmates? Have any of your Pirate friends been a part of your professional journey?

L.C.: I have been a tennis player since I was 7 years old and played on a scholarship in college. I have really great memories from the camaraderie of being on the tennis team. Tennis can be such an isolating sport, so having a team behind you is special. I love that my sister, Jayme Case ’97, and I were on the same team. I also smile when I think about my friend, Lindsey Yellich ’96, who played. She made me laugh all the time and still does. She and I also ran the Big Sur Marathon together my senior year!

Funny you ask about any crossovers with alumni in my professional journey. I was the publicist on a pilot with Kris Polaha ’95! We also have a few similar friends in the entertainment industry. And Lindsey Yellich actually connected me to my first-ever job in Hollywood working at Paramount Television. She had interned there over the summer, knew I wanted to get into entertainment, heard about a job in the Media Relations department in the TV division, and sent it my way. The rest is history!

Q: And, lastly, for current students and younger alumni who are interested in pursuing a career in the PR and publicity realm world, what advice would you offer them?

L.C.: Identify your passion, chase your passion, and DON’T EVER STOP. There is ALWAYS a way. A few tangible tips:

  • On-the-Job – On-the-job experience is the best teacher, especially when you’re thrown right into it. It’s not always comfortable, but you’ll either sink or swim, and depending upon where you land, you’ll realize if you’re cut out for it.
  • Time + Observation – Learning the field takes time and is not something you can rush. It comes from years of observing those more senior than you, listening to how they handle themselves with clients and press, witnessing how they manage tough conversations, and watching how they negotiate. If you want to learn the job, you need to think of yourself as a sponge and just take it all in.
  • Making Mistakes – You’re going to learn the most when you make mistakes. It will make you feel bad, but you’ll learn more that way.
  • Different Jobs -You’ll gain a broader perspective and a more well-rounded view of the business when you move around to different roles and jobs in the industry— job at an agency, in-house at a brand, at a studio, at a streamer or network.