10 to Watch 2017: Rep Lab Communications

“It’s difficult to teach expertise in issues and crisis management; it’s about experience.”

Photograph by Joshua Lawrence.

It’s a well-known truth that a business’s survival depends on its good name, which is why Trisha Lees, owner of Rep Lab Communications, looked to this reality when choosing her own company’s moniker. 

“A colleague asked me to think about the impact I have for every single client and person that sits across from me,” Lees says. “And that’s reputation.”

While the majority of Lees’ work is focused on “enhancing reputation” and raising the good profile of a business or service, 30 to 40 per cent of her time is dedicated to managing issues and crises that affect businesses or individuals.

“In that case, it’s really managing a reputation at a time that might not be one’s glory hour and has the potential to hurt one in some way,” Lees says. 

Her unique training for her role as “fixer” came from her time as a journalist and as a spokesperson for the Alberta Children’s Hospital.

“My background has led me to a place where I am able to help companies in their time of need,” she says. “In those two types of careers I honed my skills related to managing issues as they arise.“

It also informs her crisis-communication plans — so her clients have a step-by-step guide if anything ever goes wrong — and her media training seminars.

“I was trained in a really combative way, and [the way I train my clients] is completely the opposite,” she says. “You’re going to feel comfortable and put your best face forward.”

Q&A with Trisha Lees of Rep Lab Communications

What was the best business advice you ever received?

It’s from my dad, who said if you treat people properly, you’ll always be successful. He ran a tire business, which is completely different from what I do, but the advice works for any business. And the advice doesn’t just mean your clients, but media, your partners or anyone.

What was the scariest part of starting up?

The scariest part was balancing it with my family life and making sure I was able to do it and still be there for my two little kids, who were two and five when I started — and I’m a single parent. And because it’s public relations, the schedule can be a little tricky.

What are you most proud of?

My clients’ successes and being a part of getting them there.

Rep Lab Communications Business Profile

Type of business: Public relations and marketing

Year founded: 2014

Owner/principal: Trisha Lees

Employees/contractors: 2

What sets you apart? “Crisis management. When it comes to preparing for and managing issues as they arise, few companies in town have the depth of experience found at Rep Lap. As the city grows and social media becomes even more prevalent, the need for this service will grow.”

This article is from the April/May 2017 issue of Douglas.