By Ken Williams | Editor
Bev Oster is a woman on the go. As president of Oster and Associates public relations firm in Hillcrest, she keeps a hectic schedule overseeing the company, dealing with clients and drumming up new business. But Oster also finds time to give back, with a personal motto that volunteerism is at the forefront of good business practices.
For the past decade, Oster has volunteered with Project Amigo, a transnational nonprofit that supports impoverished students in Colima, Mexico. Presently she heads the organization’s board of directors, where she works closely with the executive director, raises money, and helps guide the development of strong relationships between the nonprofit and businesses.
“The knowledge, understanding and connections developed through our volunteer efforts are much deeper than what is realized strictly through normal business operations,” Oster said. “Businesses often prefer to partner with companies that have a heart, so they will seek out those with a similar approach to business, which become the greatest professional connections.”
Here are five questions with Oster:
1. What is your role at Oster and Associates, and what does your company do?
I’m the president of Oster and Associates, a company that I started in 1986. Oster and Associates is a full-service branding and PR agency with local, regional and international clients in the agriculture, hospitality, landscaping, nonprofit, planning, produce, sports and travel industries. Some of the wonderful clients that we work with include Armstrong Garden Centers, Mountain High, Organics Unlimited, Farmer’s Best, Proven Winners and Kent’s Bromeliad Nursery among others.
2. What is Project Amigo and who benefits from this nonprofit?
Project Amigo is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to supporting students from Colima, Mexico, so that they can create their own educational opportunities and better their quality of life.
Since 1984, Project Amigo has worked with rural youth in Mexico to help remove financial barriers to education through scholarships that include school fees, transportation, uniforms, school supplies and a hot lunch. The staff provides tutoring and mentoring during its Project Amigo Homework Clubs.
3. What do you do with Project Amigo, and how has this impacted your life?
I am currently chairman of the board for Project Amigo, an organization I’ve been involved with since 2006.
It has impacted my life in a number of ways. Project Amigo is a program that I can directly see all the good that it does for people. I actually get to know the kids who we work with, which is extremely fulfilling. One of the things that I really wanted to do in my life was to be a Peace Corps volunteer — this is like that because it’s very hands on in making a positive difference for others.
4. Some people think public relations is still like the “Mad Men” TV series. In reality, though, how has public relations changed since you’ve been in the business?
There’s an increasing need to show a return on investment (ROI) for businesses including our clients. Traditional print media used to be a main focus for the industry. Now, social media is woven into everything these days.
Technology has completely changed public relations. For example, when putting out a press release, we used to mail 100 copies of the release through the Postal Service for media outlets to do their own thing with it such as rewriting or reworking the information with their own personnel. Compare that to today where media take a digital file and can instantaneously use the press release in their reporting and coverage. It’s pretty incredible to see how far we’ve come as an industry in just the past 30 years.
5. Oster and Associates is located in Uptown. Why did you locate your office in Hillcrest and what do you like about the neighborhood?
We chose to locate our office in Hillcrest because it’s an extremely vibrant neighborhood and that lends itself to creativity. Hillcrest is centrally located by being near Downtown San Diego, yet not quite as congested. We’re just steps away from great restaurants, shops and other small businesses like ours that are all proud to call Hillcrest home.
It’s a warm and friendly area to have a business — we love being here.
Find Oster and Associates online at osterads.com and Project Amigo at projectamigo.org.