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Anna Crowe: “Communication is key”

I’m a big believer in authentic leadership and transparent culture — one that is based on trust and aligns with core values. It’s important to create and maintain a culture where people can bring themselves to the table without fear of judgment. Every person has unique strengths, experiences, points of view and superpowers and those need to […]

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I’m a big believer in authentic leadership and transparent culture — one that is based on trust and aligns with core values. It’s important to create and maintain a culture where people can bring themselves to the table without fear of judgment. Every person has unique strengths, experiences, points of view and superpowers and those need to be acknowledged and included in the conversation. Distance from the office should not preclude employee participation or one-on-one conversations; instead, make time for your team and have regular check-ins.


As a part of our series about the things you need to successfully work remotely, I had the pleasure of interviewing Anna Crowe.

Anna Crowe is a recognized public relations and marketing expert, best-selling author and speaker. A powerhouse female business owner in her own right, she is the founder and CEO of Crowe, a national ROI-focused PR and marketing agency. Anna’s focus on growing and protecting brands, while developing extraordinary leaders has led to a number of notable recognitions, including PR News Top Women in PR, CEO of the Year and Women Who Mean Business awards.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. What is your “backstory”?

My family and I came to America from Russia when I was 11 years old, landing in New York City. After graduating from Rutgers College with a degree in accounting, I began my career on the CPA track as a Staff Auditor at Deloitte’s New York office. In the years that followed I searched for more brand-focused creative roles, taking on senior marketing and financial positions with a leading global cosmetics company and a major LA-based record label. I moved to San Diego to pursue my MBA in International Marketing from the University of San Diego and spent a few years in senior marketing and PR roles in-house and on the agency side. In 2015, I founded Crowe PR, which started as a traditional PR agency and developed into an integrated public relations and marketing firm. Today, we’re proud to service a variety of international and national clients throughout the consumer goods, hospitality and healthcare technology industries.

What advice would you give to other business leaders to help their employees thrive and avoid burnout?

I think regular self-assessment is important and we should all have a good pulse on how our bodies and minds are performing and what we may need. I would encourage leaders to have open conversations with their teams regarding leaning into their energy levels and taking the appropriate time to disconnect. There will always be work to be done, but if we don’t recharge, we will not be able to sustain not only the quality of our work but also our health. In the end, that’s the most important asset we have, so it’s essential we nurture it.

To begin, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main benefits and opportunities of working remotely?

Some of the benefits of remote work are the ability to choose your work environment, and potentially enhanced work-life balance and flexibility. For some, the comfort of their home is invaluable, especially if they have a good setup or have others to take care of throughout the day. With kids studying from home in many families these days, working remotely enables parents to do their job while partaking in their kids’ education. With regards to balance, one can shave hours off their morning and evening commute and spend that time doing something meaningful or joyful. And it is easier to integrate wellness, errands, meal prep and other important activities into your day when you are remote.

Consider also the carbon footprint — there have been studies throughout the pandemic showcasing the positive environmental impact of cutting down the daily drive. So that’s another great benefit of staying put!

Can you articulate for our readers one main challenge of working remotely?

While work-life balance is a potential benefit, remote work can also impede this sense of balance as there may be no clear divide between starting and stopping work. This is especially an issue given our accessibility to mobile devices. Some people may also have challenges with self-discipline. To work remotely effectively, you likely need to create your own structure and hold yourself accountable more than in an office setting.

Based on your experience, what can one do to address or redress this challenge? Can you give a story or example?

For the work-life balance piece, I found it helpful to carve time out on the calendar for personal endeavors, just like I would for business meetings and to-dos. So, if I need to take some time in the afternoon to go for a short walk, I’ll add to it my calendar and hold myself accountable for doing so. I think it’s also important to disconnect and give yourself time outside the work schedule without looking at your phone, iPad or any other device. It’s easy to jump into outstanding items when those pop up, even if you’re just browsing social media or doing some online shopping.

With regards to discipline, it’s a skill that can be practiced. I like to block off chunks of time when tackling larger projects and let the team know if I’m unavailable for a period of time. This ensures I stay on track with the task at hand vs. jumping into emails, shifting my focus on non-priorities, etc. And I consistently challenge myself and hold myself accountable with KPIs, even if they’re simply internal goals.

What are a few ways to be most productive when you work at home?

This may be obvious, but it’s key to have an area blocked off in your space that is work only. If we work on a kitchen counter all day every day, that area will not be considered an off-work zone and it’ll be harder to disconnect. Plus, organization is imperative when working from home. The more organized you are, the more structure you can infuse into a non-structured setting. Also, ensure you take breaks, even though they may be short. Stretch, walk around the block, step away from your screens and take deep breaths. It’s amazing what that can do for your soul. When I have a late night coming up and I need to work on a project, I break it up with a long relaxing bath. The physical act of it tells my mind to unwind and rest.

Can you share any suggestions for teams who are used to working together on location but are forced to work remotely due to the pandemic? Are there potential obstacles one should avoid with a team that is just getting used to working remotely?

Communication is key. Most conflicts arise when there is a communication breakdown, so updating means, styles and rhythms is a great first step. Have an open conversation with the team on needs and don’t be afraid to continuously refine the process. While we may no longer have the ability to walk over to a colleague’s office, we can pick up the phone or schedule a time on the calendar. And perhaps in lieu of a quick conversation regarding a project, you may get into a daily update routine or lean more on a project management tool. I think the pandemic shined a light on the fact that every employee has a unique circumstance and leaders can’t operate in a one-size-fits-all model. Having open conversations and adjusting scenarios that accommodate the employee and the business is important at this time.

What do you suggest can be done to create an empowering work culture and team culture with a team that is remote and not physically together?

I’m a big believer in authentic leadership and transparent culture — one that is based on trust and aligns with core values. It’s important to create and maintain a culture where people can bring themselves to the table without fear of judgment. Every person has unique strengths, experiences, points of view and superpowers and those need to be acknowledged and included in the conversation. Distance from the office should not preclude employee participation or one-on-one conversations; instead, make time for your team and have regular check-ins.

I believe people should also have a clear sense of a company’s vision and goals and know how they are contributing to the bigger picture.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote?” Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

One of my favorite quotes is ‘Dream Big. Work Hard. Make it Happen.’ I love it because dreaming big and having goals is amazing and it’s important to have a vision for your life. But dreaming is not enough — dreams are just aspirational without the hard work. I don’t believe in cutting corners and I truly think that you can create and accomplish anything you set your mind to with the right mindset, hard work and discipline. But first — create that dream, reach for the stars. Then set your plan in motion and refine it along the way.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can connect with me on LinkedIn, connect with my work as part of Forbes’ Agency Council or learn more about Crowe PR at www.crowepr.com.Anna Crowe on How To Successfully Navigate The Opportunities & Challenges Of Working Remotely Or From Home

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