Helen Bertelli was invited to join the Alliance of Women in Technology Leadership in the spring of 2019. At that time, Benecomms, her PR and marketing agency, was only a year old but already winning significant accolades for its work.
Benecomms is a creative agency with a mandate to give back to its community. To celebrate the company's first anniversary last year, Benecomms held a three-day retreat that included a dinner, training sessions, and three days of volunteering where the team held meetings while painting fences and petting horses at Hope Reins, folded clothes for kids at A Note in the Pocket, and tending to vegetables at First Fruits Farm, a rural NC farm was founded in 2012 by Jason Brown (a former, successful NFL player, Jason walked away from his career in 2012 after hearing a calling to feed the hungry).
Benecomms turns two this year and the team plans to head to the mountains of Asheville to celebrate its continued growth and success. I recently sat down with Helen to learn more about Benecomms and her background and experiences that led her to found the company...
After a career of more than twenty years in PR and marketing, my vision was to build a home for creative, ambitious people in our area, and do the work of business building for successful clients, through innovative digital marketing and PR.
The business has grown quickly, and in May 2019 we moved into our first office space to accommodate new hires. Much of this success, I think, can be attributed to the diverse expertise we provide. Today, more than ever, successful marketing requires a broad skill set. It is not enough to be creative, a great writer or graphic artist, you must do well in all these things plus be analytical, as data plays an increasingly important role in strategic decision-making.
I was so excited to win a Sir Walter Raleigh Gold Award from the Raleigh Public Relations Society last year for a project that Benecomms undertook only a few months after our founding.
I have two great girls aged 11 and 13, and I love being a mum. I’m also very proud of founding the first all-female acapella group at Oxford University, The Oxford Belles, in the 1990's.
At the time, there were only male barbershop quartets at Oxford; nobody really knew what to do with singing group of 16 women. A few months after our founding I called different venues to find somewhere to perform our first concert. The only place that said yes was the local LGBT club. So that’s where we performed. And it rocked! Although several people did show up to the event thinking that we were bell ringers -they ended up staying so they can’t have been too disappointed.
Today The Oxford Belles perform regularly at the Edinburgh Festival and around the UK. They’ve won international awards, toured the US, and were invited to NBC Universal in London to sing at the opening of Pitch Perfect 3! If I’m ever feeling down I watch their awesome recently released music video and feel proud to have started something that has positively impacted many young women over the years.
We are building a strong practice in the area of sustainability and climate change, and I’m loving the journey. We are currently representing two businesses in this space, The Climate Service and Ecobot. It is very rewarding work, not just because of the subject matter but also because of the people. Another significant practice for us is in the area of safety and rescue; we work with one of the largest providers of technical rescue training and services in the United States. Again, very rewarding work and wonderful people. I’m very much hoping to continue building these practices in 2020 and beyond.
I am so enjoying the journey of building a business in the Triangle area. I’m constantly amazed at the region’s quality of talent and commitment to entrepreneurship.
I was the lead singer of a rock band in Washington, DC (in my twenties. BC. Before children).
I put it at the bottom of my resume when I interviewed for my first marketing director job at a law firm in DC and was a little afraid they wouldn’t hire me as a result. But turns out that was all they wanted to talk about in the interview.
Many of the lawyers were musicians - one even split his time between DC and Nashville as a singer-songwriter. So, for the firm’s 20th anniversary we published a CD of original music written and performed by employees. We sent it to clients and prospects and got an overwhelmingly positive response, including an email from a senior counsel at Coca-Cola asking if he could jam with us sometime.
The moral of the story is this: communications is about connecting with your audience by being real, sometimes vulnerable and always human. Even B2B communications (especially in B2B communications, I would argue).
In the middle of high school, I moved from a big city in England (Bristol) to a small town in Virginia (Williamsburg). I wore Doctor Martin’s shoes and had a very British accent and sense of humor. I’m not sure my American classmates knew what to do with me.
During the years I lived in DC, parallel parking was one of my superpowers. Unfortunately, years of minivan driving have blunted this. One day I will purchase a Mini, with a Union Jack painted on its roof, and reclaim this lost talent.
I’ve been so busy with starting and growing Benecomms as well as being a mum, my hope in the coming years is to do more traveling so I can see and reconnect with long-lost friends.
Networking! I have really enjoyed meeting the talented and amazing members of the Alliance. It is a wonderful group and I feel honored to be a part of it.
Our professional woman’s peer group is designed for strong successful leaders in the Triangle. Members include executives in sales, marketing, and business development type roles in technology, pharma, biotech, and healthcare. Our group provides a confidential place to share best practices, discuss strategies, and address business challenges. We share successes, tools, vendors, networks, talent, and ideas that can help each of us grow and develop professionally.
Through our passion, enthusiasm, talent, innovation, recruiting, and success, Women in Tech Leadership support, mentor, and empower one other. We also support one another during trials and transitions, through coaching, collaboration, and resources. Our members are building healthy relationships and stronger networks, creating stronger personal brands, recruiting and retaining talent, positioning ourselves as thought leaders, and communicating with confidence.
We believe in candor and confidentiality, creativity and concision, confidence and circumspection. We believe in taking risks and grasping opportunities that challenge the limits of our capability, and encouraging others to do the same. We believe in winning with integrity, through inspiration and leadership.