Catharine Montgomery 0:00
When it comes to communications, you have to realize that every article every post you make every event you host is helping make that change that you’re looking to seek.

Anne Bibb 0:10
Welcome to Unexpected Journey, the show where each week top professionals share work wisdom and life lessons about their careers and what they have learned about human experience in the workplace. I’m your host, Anne Bibb. Today we’re joined by Catharine Montgomery, ¬†Founder and CEO of Better Together, a communications agency that galvanizes positive change. For purpose driven organizations through creative strategies, messaging and branding. Catharine’s vision, for better together is to build a more just environmentally sustainable world centered around human and labor rights, access to education, and health care for all through collaborative and creative communication campaigns. After spending nearly 15 years working in public relations, Catharine knows what truly drives results and leaves a lasting impact. Come join us on her Unexpected Journey.

Anne Bibb 1:14
Before we begin, don’t forget to subscribe and leave your comments below. Now, let’s get started. Welcome back to Unexpected Journey and welcome Catharine.

Catharine Montgomery 1:26
Hey, thanks for having me. And it’s great to be here.

Anne Bibb 1:29
It’s I am. So I’m just so thankful that you agreed to be on the show, you have such a great story and so many great things that you’re doing. And as the CEO of Better Together, I am just very excited to hear and to share with our audience about the things that are going on not just in your life but with your organization. So let’s get into it. First off,

Catharine Montgomery 1:56
Put me in coach.

Anne Bibb 2:01
Let me let’s hear about I am I am you know what? I just adore?

Anne Bibb 2:14
Let’s talk about let’s talk about your coaching experience.

Anne Bibb 2:21
Video, you are the coach to a lot of individuals, a lot of people. How did you get here? What’s going? What’s where you saw yourself kind of going this?

Catharine Montgomery 2:31
No? Okay. So a year ago, what was that, you know, to July, June, July, I would not have thought that I would be here. I was having a really, really tough year, at my last job I was at and was thinking I would just go to the traditional route of you know, finding a different job and the nine to five kind of thing. But I just happened to be on a slack channel, ladies get paid. And there was a recruiter who had been hired by a venture capital firm looking for founders in the US. And they only invest in PR agencies. And I was like, well, this could be sketchy. Or it could be really cool. Who knows. And I’m sometimes I’m up for sketchy. So I reached out to the recruiter

Anne Bibb 3:21
for sketchy. I mean,

Catharine Montgomery 3:25
like my life goal is like making good out of Sketchies. So I reached out to the recruiter, we really hit it off. And then I met with investors, and I hit it off with them, too. I did not have a business plan in place. But I will say that back in 2018, I started this document just called all the things and it had, you know, potential business names and potential, you know, mission statements and clients and things like that. I didn’t know what I would do with it. But I knew I wanted to focus on social impact. And so I had that in mind. When I was talking to the recruiter, when I was talking to the investors. It’s like my true passion came out, although that was not what I was expecting in life. And so it really taught me to just kind of be open to the unexpected and even if unexpected. And even if your year or a lot of years are going really horrible. It’s like just be ready for that change because it can happen to just believing and being open to those those moments of opportunity.

Anne Bibb 4:27
We laugh at the year up for sketchy. And I think we both are, you know, we kind of both lead this life of taking things where we go and trying to help other people do better and help others that are less fortunate. And, you know, just okay, we don’t know where we’re going to end up. But let’s see what happens. But in reality, it’s kind of true because as the founder of better together, right? You face some unique challenges in building kind of this bencher based social impact focused communications agency, what are some of those unique challenges? Yeah, I would

Catharine Montgomery 5:09
say there’s not a day that’s predictable. You never know what is going to happen, especially when you’re focusing on social impact. There’s so many things happening in the world day by day, and you don’t know how it’s going to impact nonprofits, corporations, what their focus is going to be an even with clients that have now like their, you know, complete mission or vision or NGO can change in one day one movement. SCOTUS is going through so many decisions right now, that could change you know, a lot of the clients we have that we’re working with. And so we’re preparing them for responses and statements based on what how decisions are made, and how it impacts their audiences. So it really is kind of taking a step back thinking about things more than was just in our general lane. What our clients might want to be focusing on, but how it impacts everyone, and how we can help them, make sure that that’s a positive impact. And then from a business perspective, is making sure that we’re hiring and partnering with people who are open to that change and open to, you know, tackling issues as they come because nothing is predictable, like I mentioned, and so you have to be willing to, you know, step up your fight for good. And that’s, you know, what we’re here for, what better together is to make that positive impact, even if it means, you know, pushing back on decisions or things that happen day to day, and that makes it a lot harder.

Anne Bibb 6:36
It does make it a lot harder. And I know that one of the things as a leader, and as somebody that has their own company, one of the things that specifically I have looked at is when when I’m using my voice, do I want to filter it? Right? And I had a very dear friend of mine, call me out a long time ago and say, Why aren’t you standing up for your beliefs? You have a loud voice, you have a huge following on social media. And I know what you believe, I know you as an individual yet you aren’t standing up for on your social media that has 50,000 followers on Twitter, great, or an Instagram and 16 on Twitter. That’s not a lot of people. I mean, I’m not Katy Perry, or Barack Obama or Michelle. But it’s also not a little bit, but why aren’t you standing up for what you believe on these on on these platforms. And I had to reflect that. At the time, I was working in corporate and there were the social media requirements that we had to follow. And there was a fear factor at the time of I would lose my job. I was not, I was not following the guidelines of the man, right. But when I was working under my own organization, I then had to say, I was afraid I was going to lose my clients. And then I had to think, do I want those

Catharine Montgomery 8:24
clients right?

Anne Bibb 8:27
If I have clients that are not going to work with me, because I am standing up for what I believe, do I want those clients, so all have this to say, and yet same friend always calls me verbose, so

Anne Bibb 8:48
so all that to say, if you’re working with

Anne Bibb 8:51
somebody that he’s going through those emotions that’s going through those thoughts and feelings and knows internally, that they’re basically externally not standing up for what they’re believing it because there’s a fear or something along those lines. What, what do you say to them? How do you work with them, whether they’re the decision maker of an organization? Or what because that’s, that is a between a rock and a hard place? Yeah.

Catharine Montgomery 9:22
And I feel like we’re in that situation right now with affirmative action and like, how do you phrase, your response to whatever SCOTUS decides in the right way where it doesn’t neglect some people who follow the organization and some people who you know are going to be for the decision or against the decision, whatever that is. So it’s really guiding clients and giving them the reassurance that if they have people involved in the organization who are really going to take a negative sway from whatever statement the organization releases They don’t need to have them in there. By themselves by their side, they don’t need their support, because they’re trying to make a difference in the world and you can’t have people holding you back, you can’t have people limiting you on sticking up for what you believe, or you’re, you won’t make an impact at all. And so that’s kind of how we guide clients, a lot of our clients are not in that situation, because they will be the first to come out and say, you know, we agree or disagree with whatever is going on in the world. And so I really am proud about that. And that’s what the mission of Better Together is, in general, I will say that, from my experiences, you know, I worked at a progressive agency that focused on union work and different things like that. And social media was not a part of the company’s positioning at all, because they didn’t want to take a stand on any issue. And so when I started better together, I was like, I’m doing the exact opposite. Like, we’re going to talk about every issue there is, and we’re going to talk about how it is impacted by communications and how we can help organizations and it’s not to only try to, you know, get clients, obviously, but it’s just to have a voice in how many times do we want to say something, and we can’t, because we’re being held down by you say, the man, and I was listening to ABC podcast this morning. And they were talking about how some employees can’t have a pride flag at their desk, just because, you know, like, they can’t express themselves that way. And I was like, What is 2023? What do you mean, you can’t have a pride flag. And I think there’s just so ridiculous if you can’t truly be yourself, because company wants to please everyone. And when you try to please everyone, as we know, you, please no one, and people leave the company, you lose your clients, you have no mission, you have no purpose. And you just have to decide am I going to stand up for what I believe in, or I’m going to let other people stand up for me, and just do whatever they asked me to do. And I can’t do both. I have to stand up for what I believe in what our employees believe in what our clients believe in what my investors believe in, and make sure that every decision I make is aligned with that, and that we stick to our mission, again, mission or mission always.

Anne Bibb 12:14
So can you you know, speaking about missions and, and everything. Can you talk about a specific campaign or maybe a project that you’re really proud of that you helped address that social issue or? Or brought about social change?

Catharine Montgomery 12:28
Yeah, yeah. So one I would say is, with cannabis industry in Massachusetts, and I had, you’d have to be very transparent that I grew up in Alabama, I grew up in the South in a very conservative area where, you know, we went to church every Sunday and every other day of the week, and cannabis was not a thing that you would ever partake in. And you don’t have to partake in it to not want black men and women to be put in jail just for having it. So when I was in working with this organization to in put a law that would make sure that licenses in the cannabis industry in Massachusetts will go to black men and women first, I was kind of hesitant, it was out of my element. But the more I learned about the topic, the more I learned that there are people making millions of dollars off the cannabis industry, while they’re still black men and women in prison for having minor offenses using it. And so although at a federal level, Biden release those men and women on those charges, but at the state level, they they’re still there. And so we were able to, you know, build a campaign where we had protests, and we, you know, went into city halls and we had, you know, campaigns and you know, all these types of things. And we created this organization called race, which is frill action for cannabis equity. And we had community members come out and voice how important it was that we diversify, who has a license and who can sell cannabis and who can do it legally, and making sure that it’s equitable for all people. And so not only that the campaign, do we succeed in the campaign and ensuring that minorities have the first opportunity to get those license, but I learned a lot, it opened my mind. And it showed that even though I want to do so much good in the world through communications, I still have my own biases and my own perceptions about things. And so I have to check myself all the time, knowing that all of us have biases that we don’t even realize we have. And then we have to take those out when we’re trying to help others and help everyone because it’ll limit us.

Anne Bibb 14:40
That’s amazing. So we’re gonna get into DDI next, but before we do, it’s time to play a little this or that. Okay.

Catharine Montgomery 14:49
Are you ready? Ready? I think so. So,

Anne Bibb 14:56
I know that you watch the show and it’s So we give you two words or phrases we both answer and talk about why we pick what we pick. So first question,

Anne Bibb 15:11
coffee or tea

Catharine Montgomery 15:17
It depends. Okay, I have to choose. I’ll say coffee. You

Anne Bibb 15:19
have to. You have to choose coffee. Okay, why do you take coffee? And why was that hard?

Catharine Montgomery 15:28
Because I don’t really drink either. But it depends on like a mood, you know. So if I, sometimes traveling, I’ll have like a double espresso latte with almond milk and sugar free vanilla. I know. Order down because I’ve been traveling so much. And so that sounds really nice. But then sometimes just the calming nature of tea that you can have sounds good, too. So it really depends, but I’ll say like, if I have to choose down had to, I would say coffee, but which I mean, we would choose.

Anne Bibb 16:00
See, this one is hard for me, because I’m from I’m from the south. I’m from Texas. I don’t use I don’t claim that as often as I used to, you know, I used to be yes, Texas.

Anne Bibb 16:12
It now I do love Texas. But I do like me some sweet tea.

Catharine Montgomery 16:24
Oh, and you’re thinking sweet tea. I was thinking like Hyatt was

Anne Bibb 16:27
that that was the other part. So I have two best friends. One of them is from Nigeria. And she introduced me to this hot tea with like, condensed milk, like all kinds of I just, it’s yummy. Especially when you are not having a great day. And so like whenever I’m in a bad mood, I’ll have that it reminds me of her and it just kind of puts a smile on my face so but those are not everyday things whereas

Catharine Montgomery 17:11
more your couldn’t be there. There’s been I have a problem. See how you’re drinking hot tea in Texas right now that are hot coffee right now. Oh, goodness.

Anne Bibb 17:27
It’s in my

Anne Bibb 17:27

Anne Bibb 17:29
I say kid temp. It’s warm.

Anne Bibb 17:35
My other bestie gets it like extra hot and I’m like, what? How? What? And whereas I don’t?

Anne Bibb 17:47
I can’t do iced coffee. It’s okay, but I drink it too fast. Yeah. Yeah. But this is not at this point. See, I put it in my mind. Oh, okay. But it’s not hot. It’s not cold. It’s kind of like there and I’m enjoying it slowly throughout the day.

Catharine Montgomery 18:08
Okay, and you don’t have like a little heater thing?

Anne Bibb 18:12
Well, because then it’s too hot and I’m already hot.

Catharine Montgomery 18:18
Water spicy.

Anne Bibb 18:22
Spicy. Yeah. All right. All right, here we go. Next one. Cats. Or dogs tow

Catharine Montgomery 18:32
cars either. I know. I’m gonna like turn everybody off.

Anne Bibb 18:39
Neither person aren’t you?

Catharine Montgomery 18:41
Can I say horses?

Anne Bibb 18:44
Well, that wasn’t but I’m gonna lean more towards dogs if you’re talking horses.

Catharine Montgomery 18:48
That’s true. I guess actually, I think I would go for cat. Like if they’re gonna die. They need to, you know, be independent.

Anne Bibb 18:59
I challenge you on that because all of my dogs are independent. We have a dog door and we have land. Okay, it is fenced in my husband. We at one point we had Great Danes. Unfortunately, they just passed away recently that you saw them on some episodes. But he custom built it is the most horrible looking.

Anne Bibb 19:26
You’re gonna see. It is amazing in the fact that it has lasted seven years, but it is still like that pine wood never been finished.

Anne Bibb 19:39
I would call it white trash because

Anne Bibb 19:46
like, can I call myself like, is it okay? I don’t know. I don’t want to get cancelled. But at the same time, it’s me like it is my family. I’m calling that and if I put a picture of it up right now I think everybody feel Have you ever?

Anne Bibb 20:02
How ever I will say I give him mad props for the fact that he built it himself and he was so proud. It lasted seven years. It survived seven years of great gains and multiple dogs running it through that door, like the world was on fire. And, yeah, it’s still there. So yeah, I challenge the independence of cats versus the independence of dogs because they just do their business and go outside. And

Catharine Montgomery 20:34
I guess it depends on where you live, you know, living in DC. There’s not Yes, Drew and

Anne Bibb 20:41
I data give you data give you and you

Catharine Montgomery 20:44
see my neighbors. I live in an apartment complex, so they’re always walking their dogs like to go outside.

Anne Bibb 20:52
Yeah, it was harder when we had an apartment because we had to make sure we got an apartment that had a ground floor that had the little yard and it was it was much harder, but having a house is is very different. So so your cats and dogs. But you know what cats and dogs get along great sometimes, I

Anne Bibb 21:09
guess. Yeah. You’re like, I guess I don’t like you know, but you know what? I think we both like horses. So let’s just stick

Catharine Montgomery 21:21
Oh, I love that. Okay. Later this year to go ride some horses.

Anne Bibb 21:27
Oh, Yellowstone activity

Anne Bibb 21:33
books or movies?

Catharine Montgomery 21:39
I would say movies probably are

Anne Bibb 21:46
definitely down doubt about it here.

Catharine Montgomery 21:52
Movies can.

Anne Bibb 21:53
You’re struggling? I’m curious why.

Catharine Montgomery 22:00
So I so I’m used to nowadays the eighth episode, our launch shows. And so when I see a movie nowadays, and it’s an hour and a half, I’m like, I’m not getting the full effect. Where’s the in depth? And so that’s why I was hesitating on the movies. But the movies I happened to lately, which has been exciting now that COVID staying down but are subsiding. I’ll say they have been and I’ve been on a lot of planes lately. And they pet some really old school movies. Like I watched. I don’t know, Bridget Jones’s Diary on the plane. Like, take me back, you know? Yeah.

Anne Bibb 22:40
I left the last one where they like, they got married Bridget Jones’s wedding or what have you. I liked that one.

Catharine Montgomery 22:47
It’s not like 10 years ago, like really kind of more recent.

Anne Bibb 22:52
It was the most recent one. Or maybe it was her baby Bridget Jones’s Baby.

Anne Bibb 22:59
Oh, my gosh.

Catharine Montgomery 23:04
I’m gonna do I’m not going to work today because

Anne Bibb 23:12
it’s the one with Patrick Dempsey in it.

Catharine Montgomery 23:15
What? Oh, wait, no. Okay. So there was Hugh Grant. Maybe I did see the one with Patrick Dempsey. Maybe. I know there were two with you. Grant. Right. Yes. Okay. Then there was a third one. Okay.

Anne Bibb 23:36
I like to I mean, I liked all of them, but I liked the third one. Okay, so so so you’re liking that? What? Other than that, what have you seen lately that you liked?

Catharine Montgomery 23:45
Let’s see, I watched the inside man with Denzel Washington and some other people I don’t know.

Anne Bibb 23:56
Aging like fine wine.

Catharine Montgomery 23:58
Oh my god. Well, that movie was made in 2008. So

Anne Bibb 24:01
I know but I just thought what would you leave with him? Oh, I

Catharine Montgomery 24:05
haven’t seen him in a while.

Anne Bibb 24:08
Maybe it was just a video or something. But I mean,

Catharine Montgomery 24:11
like that’s it cracks me up. We’re gonna sneak right into do we need to do this is for okay.

Anne Bibb 24:33
This is why we get along.

Anne Bibb 24:36
We can talk about just about anything and neither of us get offended. That’s what

Anne Bibb 24:44
I did pick movies to make, because well, I do read and I do like books. I have a lot of author friends and I read their books. I used to when I was younger read like I had all of Daniel steel collections single when I had some first editions like that, yeah. Do you still have them? Actually? No, I sold them to pay for my

Catharine Montgomery 25:12
wedding. Wow, did you make a lot of money off them?

Anne Bibb 25:16
I did not make as much as I thought I would. But I made plenty. And my husband and I paid for our own wedding. And we didn’t have like an extravagant wedding. So it’s plenty. Yeah. So we have talked about all kinds of crazy question things. And, you know, strangely enough, or this or that game led us straight into d i and as a leader in the communications field, you have been involved in internal and external d i efforts, can you kind of elaborate a little bit on the importance of dei in the workplace, and how it can really effectively integrate into communication strategies.

Catharine Montgomery 26:05
Of course, of course. So even the premise of better together, it’s based on the I think, both from an external perspective and internal perspective, because when we’re working with especially corporations, because they’re for profit, it’s really, we have to really push back on them to say, you know, we’re not going to work with you, if you think it’s just because we want your money. Like, you have to be really committed to changing the way you communicate your DEI efforts internally and externally and be very authentic with what you’re doing. So it’s not, it’s for my, for me, the mindset came from when George Floyd was murdered in 2020. And how corporations just gave so much money, the Wall Street Journal, I mean, the Washington Post said that corporatist corporations gave millions of dollars, but nobody knows where it went. It didn’t go to black communities, it just nobody held them accountable, it was just like, here, we’re gonna give all this money, and we’re not going to, you know, follow up with how we use it, we’re not gonna say how we, how it impacted communities and make them prove them. And so it’s like, you can just say you did things and nobody holds you accountable, and you can get away with it, they did get away with it, and you move on, and, and there were no true impacts that came out of that movement. And so I wanted to hold companies accountable, and not just let them get away with giving money to a community or when we don’t even know where but to truly say, Okay, this is what we did with our money, this is how we’re going to use it. This is these are the results. This is you know, actually it didn’t do anything. So we’re going to do something different. And for them to really prove that they care about communities, and that it’s not just a bunch of talk, and so that a lot of times, unfortunately, with communications with agencies, we support them in that just here. Here’s a statement on the money that we gave to XY and Z. And we don’t hold anyone accountable. And that’s just not how we work better together. And so our whole premise is lead on ensuring that dei comes from an authentic perspective, and not just a show type thing. It’s not just for show, and it really is for a lot of people, which is why I think that it’s become more of a just saying, like ESG, or CSR, or any other term, you want to say it’s just kind of a term that people kind of have to embrace and use. Because it’s I think

Anne Bibb 28:32
that’s what’s happening with a lot of companies right now that they’re like, oh, we have to have a DNI strategy. Oh, we have to have this. So somebody put it in place, because we want to be able to say, yes, we have one.

Catharine Montgomery 28:47
Oh, yeah, for sure. I mean, but then you have the other side of that you have Florida and Texas, sorry. Carolina lineup, and that are like, actually, we’re gonna ban that you can’t have any more di roles in universities and public institutions. And so I think, and also those di roles are some of the first that are laid off when all these you know, tech companies and others are, you know, making cuts. And so it’s a good thing to show and say, and even in my industry, with agencies, you know, they focus on every type of communications and when it’s cool to have a multicultural division or dei practice, so they can say that they do that. They add that in, and that it’s not, it can’t just be a small segment of what you’re going to do because you think it sounds good, but it has to really truly be who you are. And a lot of companies just are one generation. So we’re not going to let companies get away with just saying it anymore. I think I think that we’re kind of at a turning point of either you’re gonna really have to embrace dei and social impact or people are going to call you out, you know, and so hopefully we’re moving in that direction, but for sure, I completely agree with your statement. and that a lot of companies do it for sure. Have you

Anne Bibb 30:03
encountered when you’re working with these organizations, any specific challenges, incorporating dei into communication translate, you know, campaigns? And how do you address that?

Catharine Montgomery 30:18
Yeah. I will say that, again, you know, we have a client where, you know, we thought we were getting into one thing we thought we were getting into one area. And once you actually start needing to implement that messaging around ei around equity, it becomes like, oh, no, this is actually what we met, or this is what we’re actually thinking of saying. It’s our way to rephrase that. So it doesn’t come off, as you know, too much. It’s like, what are you talking about? Like, this is what our proposal says, This is what we agreed on, these are all the conversations we have before we got started. So this is what we need to be focused on and doing. And so it, it really is frustrating, but it is also corporate, you know, like all the different layers, all different people who have to approve things and don’t have a certain perspective on things. And sometimes we just have to take it into our own hands and figure out what’s happening in the news. Now, what is the reporter going to, you know, want to know about what makes it different? What makes it impactful? And kind of just push and push and question. So we don’t give up easily. We don’t just fall back and say, Okay, fine, we’ll just talk about whatever at a high level, that’s fine when everybody else is talking about but we really push them this way you hired us, you know, and we’re not gonna just give in to, you know, your feelings at the moment. But what really make a difference?

Anne Bibb 31:53
What are some of the big things happening? That you feel companies are struggling with? They’re not just di, but a lot of Di. But what from a calm standpoint Do you feel like companies are struggling with communicating about in the public right now?

Catharine Montgomery 32:14
Yeah, I think one main topic is about trans youth, especially black trans youth, the suicide rate among black trans girls are, it’s like out of, I don’t know, you son imaginable. It’s really a problem that a lot of industries are going through. And I think, figuring out how you support families that have youth at home, who are trans, figuring out how to communicate, health policies, how to communicate, just like you’re like every other family, your child just has to happen have these types of characteristics rather than, you know, what a typical child would have. And so I think it’s hard for them to figure out how to be equitable with their care for parents and for families and things like that, from an internal perspective from external, I think it’s some of the same issues of and there’s so many that it’s really hard to pick, but I’ll say for one, take the LGBTQIA plus community, you know, the big fight, years ago was, you know, gay marriage. And so that passed. And so then it became like, Okay, we want, like, let’s just have pride month, and let’s move on. And it’s really, that white gay men one, they can still walk down the street, they still are white, they’re still men, they don’t have the same issues, as you know, black gay women, or black trans kids or other kids who are minorities. So it’s like, there’s still this fight that people feel like they’ve won, forced, but it’s just a small segment of that LGBTQ i plus community that has one one, quote, unquote, and so I think a lot of times we think of one thing, and we think, Oh, that’s, it’s settled, it’s fine. But really, there’s so much more to fight for. And so that same drive that it took for gay marriage is what we need for others who are going through similar situations, but have but are a woman or have different skin color. So I think those are some of the cute struggles, both from an internal corporate perspective and also just from a society when nonprofit sector who may be focusing on LGBTQ rights and so those are some things I’m seeing now. So but

Anne Bibb 34:34
what do you say to the companies to say, well, that’s not my problem, you know, I hear you I hear what you’re saying about black trans girls in youth, right? Like I hear you, I feel bad for them, but that’s not my problem. I don’t have children. Right. Like and and that’s not what our company does. We are, you know, a streaming service or We are our car company or we do this, like we have nothing to do with that area. They’re not even our target client. So why do why does that impact me at all? What what do you say to those companies?

Catharine Montgomery 35:17
Yeah, I mean, everything in society really impacts all of us. And it can be small, or we could not really see it, you know, right in front of us. But it impacts the attitudes of our employees, and impacts how we treat our customers, how we relate to them, how they think of our brand, if they want to even use our streaming service, if they want to use whatever product that we’re selling, or what, what have. So I think, you know, we have a client that is using virtual reality, augmented reality, to train the AI at companies, and it’s in every sector, you might think, okay, so what they’re focusing on is healthcare. And so they have these AR glasses that they use, and it teaches them from the perspective of patient, how it feels to have a doctor who’s dismissive because there are certain color or different things like that. And so you might not even think about it at the time of what you’re doing and the biases you have. But it’s a part of every thing that we do, no matter if it’s a trans person, or straight person, or you know, someone from Texas or someone from Alabama, we have all these thoughts in our heads in ways that we need to understand how we’re communicating to them and with them. Because we the way we communicate maybe to white gay men is going to be completely different to our white straight men. And we know that but a lot of times we’re not even thinking about that. And so when we think about these audiences, and they’re not a target audience, they really are because it impacts every part of our business and impacts every part of who we’re communicating with externally. And so we have to just be adapt to that and be open to realizing when we don’t know how to communicate every part of our business, and that we need to keep learning and being open to changing our messaging to adapt to those different audiences.

Anne Bibb 37:10
So how do you stay up to date on one? What’s happening? Because there’s always something happening. happening? And how do you know? Like, what is the top thing that should be addressed? From that? Whether it’s social impact, or that communication strategy? Because the dues is just overwhelming. So from that perspective, how do you know this? Is it? Or these are the top two or three? Because there’s, like 52 things?

Catharine Montgomery 37:55
Yeah, yeah. I mean, it really does take an organization defining what is going to focus on and your focus. So I have another client that’s focused on breast health and educating women on the importance of breast health and also their supporters. And we’re connecting that to the air quality issues that are happening in throughout the country. Because if you don’t have high quality, you know, health, you need to stay indoors. But if you’re you have health of breast cancer, you’re impacted even more, if you’re black, and you have breast cancer, you’re impacted even more than that. And so it’s like, you might not, I, like identify something as being relevant to your cause at the time, but it normally does. And it’s finding those connections, and not being too out there, you know, with ideas of how it does. But it’s a way to educate others on how you might take something that seems so extreme, so different. So out of the ordinary, and how it really does impact your audiences. You’re right, not everything needs to be addressed. You can’t focus on everything. That’s why there are so many different organizations focus on so many things. But they those organizations focused on so many things like the Human Rights Campaign, they have to be open to not just ensuring gay marriage stays in place, but that they’re also helping those black trans girls and open to all the other issues that are happening. So how I stay up to date on those I talked to a lot of people. I talked to a lot of people, I love how we’re getting more in person, conferences and meetings now and I’m just learning so much. And I also know that I don’t know everything. I know that I have so much to learn. And I’m open to that. And I know that every person I meet can teach me something. And I know I said I like movies more than books, but I read a lot. Unfortunately have to still read. And yeah, I don’t know I’m connected with amazing people who are just willing to share their knowledge and understanding and I’m open to learning that

Anne Bibb 40:01
I love that you said you don’t know everything. Because I think that there are a lot of people out here that feel like they have to know everything that to be a thought leader, to be an expert in your industry means

Anne Bibb 40:16
you have to know it all. That’s not the case, I learn new things. Every single day, you learn new things every single day. That’s how you become a thought leader. That’s how you learn new things and come up with new ideas and help people grow people helping you grow.

Catharine Montgomery 40:38
I completely agree. Yeah, I mean, even with AI, for instance, like people weapons, so hesitant to embrace it, but if we embrace it, and learn it, and are able to construct how it operates now, instead of, you know, just letting it happen, and then eventually picking it up, we can change the way operates, we can make it more dei friendly, where it actually knows to capitalize black when it’s talking about black people or that it knows to do certain things. And it knows certain knowledge and so like I encourage my employees to you know, seek out AI but also know that you can’t just let it tell you what to write or copy and paste. Because I know for sure we use AI to write something. But I just think being willing and open to embracing new technology, learning new things, realizing we don’t know everything, but also being willing to, you know, learn those things and adapt them and change them and improve them. It’s just, it just makes society better. And it helps all of us in the end. So it excites me, then, you know, learning something new. And I love the challenge. And I also really love being able to say I don’t know everything and, you know, for people to feel comfortable sharing, you know, their experiences and their background was

Anne Bibb 41:58
absolutely. So what is your advice to people that are aspiring communication professionals, they really want to make a positive impact, they want to drive social impact and change through their work. And they, they’ve wanted to do it through this field.

Catharine Montgomery 42:17
Yeah, yeah. A lot of the basics of communications are the same, like, you know, you have to be, you know, driven, obviously, you have to be willing to learn new things, you have to, you know, just always be on your toes, and, you know, handle clients and all that customer service and all that good stuff. And those are basics, but you also have to be patient, you know, and it’s, it’s really tough, and you’re not going to necessarily make that difference that you’re looking to make in one day, one year, it takes a long time, everyone in kind of the social impact realm knows that it takes a long time when it comes to, to making true authentic change. And this is just going back to Roe v. Wade being overturned, back when it was passed in the 70s. Republican Party knew that it was going to take a long time to get it overturned. And they started 50 years from when it was overturned, slowly putting in place people policies, changes ideas, into the minds of Americans where it eventually was overturned, they knew it was going to take a long time, but they eventually did it. And that’s when it comes to communications, you have to realize that every article, every post you make every event you host is helping make that change that you’re looking to seek. And so it’s embracing that the slowness of it, some things will come fast, most things that are worthwhile, will be slow. But it’s such a joy, to see that change happen. And to see the impact that it makes on people’s daily lives and just you know, at the ground level, knowing that you’re making change, it’s just, I don’t know, gives me so much like joy and passion and mix all of the years that it takes worthwhile. It is

Anne Bibb 44:17
definitely working with purpose. Yes, very much so. Yes. So Catherine, why would anyone want to reach out to you, and how would they reach out to you?

Catharine Montgomery 44:33
Yeah, I mean, because

Catharine Montgomery 44:39
but, um, you know, I know that better together as a unicorn and I you know, that might sound funny, but I know that we’re different and we’re special and that the way that we embrace communications and the change that we want to make in the world is different from from other agencies and other communications services. But we also have that those those skills that I was saying that are needed when it comes to to communications agencies in particular, and we know the importance of client service and what it takes to make a true impact in our work, as well as ensure clients are satisfied. But if people want to get in touch, my website is the Better Together dot agency. I’m also on LinkedIn at CNN, Montgomery or the Better Together agency. And my email address is Catherine at the Better Together, dot agency as well.

Anne Bibb 45:33
All of those links are below, as usual. And are there any other reasons? Do you take mentees or anything like that from a communication standpoint? Or is it all at this point, you’re so busy, you’re looking for work related context.

Catharine Montgomery 45:49
Please, if I can help anyone I have, you know, colleges, you know, where I went to school reach out to be mentors for students. I am volunteering now with Girls Inc of greater DC, helping girls be the best that they can be. And just, it does take a lot of time. And it does take a lot of effort. But knowing that I can give back because people gave to me is one of the choices also. So please, if I can be of any help to anyone, please reach out. salutely

Anne Bibb 46:18
Thank you so much for being on the show this week. Really appreciate it. It’s been a lot of fun. Little bit more fun than we might have.

Catharine Montgomery 46:30
Yes, I love it. I just get to smile and laugh.

Anne Bibb 46:34
And everybody else. Thank you for joining us. We will see you again next week. As we wrap up the episode, we would like to take this time to thank you for joining us this week on unexpected journey. Our guest information will be linked in the episode description along with a link to our hosts website, and and our sponsors websites, remote, ethos, and your Please don’t forget to like, subscribe and share on your favorite podcast app and on our YouTube channel so that you never miss an episode and we can continue to bring them to you. Let us know your thoughts on what we discussed in the comment section. And once again, thanks for joining us. We hope to see you again next time on Unexpected Journey,

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