Heather Whaling, President
Heather Whaling (@prTini) is founder/president of Geben Communication. An avid Twitter user, Heather can trace the majority of Geben’s business back to relationships that began online. This ability to turn social networking into business outcomes illustrates Geben’s contemporary approach to traditional and digital PR.
After launching the company from her dining room, Heather’s fresh approach to best practices has helped Geben evolve into a highly respected, sought-after, award-winning PR firm. Geben was named the national media relations agency of the year (Ragan/PR Daily) and a top 10 agency for startups (Agency Post). Geben is also the top boutique agency in Columbus, according to Columbus CEO.
Heather is a sought-after speaker on topics relating to traditional and digital PR, as well as technology’s influence on business. Her work and industry perspective has been included in Mashable, Entrepreneur, Inc.com, BusinessWeek and Huffington Post. Additionally, Heather has been named a top PR/marketing pro to follow on Twitter by Convince & Convert, Cision, PR Newser, Onalytics and The Daily Muse.
Heather was selected as one of Columbus Business First’s “Forty Under 40” and named one of Columbus’s top 10 entrepreneurs by The Metropreneur. She also serves on the boards of The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio and the Columbus chapter of the American Marketing Association.
Just for fun: Thanks to her iPad, Heather rediscovered the joy of reading – especially books like Half the Sky and Pray the Dressmaker that show women overcoming the odds. Always up for happy hour, Heather won’t say no to a good glass of Zinfendel or craft beer. When Heather’s not working, you can probably find her catching up on the latest Shonda Rhimes show, attempting to become a runner or experimenting with meat-free recipes. Heather is most definitely one of the 91% of people who keep their iPhones within three feet at all times.
Favorite Spotify Playlist: Choose Happiness, a compilation of my personal favorites that are pretty much guaranteed to brighten my day.
Megan Severs, Vice President of Client Strategy
As vice president of client strategy for Geben Communication, Megan is responsible for managing client relationships and strategy, while overseeing the development of the uber-talented Geben team. Megan has spent 11 years navigating the ever-changing landscape of public relations, social media and marketing communications in Chicago, and, for the last four years, Columbus, Ohio. With a passion for storytelling, Megan has helped shape the narrative for brands like McDonald’s, Simplot, Experience Columbus, WhiteWave Foods (Horizon Organic, Silk Soymilk), ConAgra Foods, ZonePerfect, The Home Depot, Chicago Festival Association and The Joffrey Ballet, on both a national and local level. Though Megan is a proud graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, she has turned into a true Buckeye at heart.
Just For Fun (and Favorite Spotify Station!): With a serious case of wanderlust, Megan has traveled across the globe, everywhere from the hidden alleyways of the Left Bank in Paris, to the awe-inspiring Andes mountains and ancient valleys of Peru, to the hauntingly beautiful mosques of Istanbul. When she’s not toting around her passport, you can find Megan with her nose in a book, teaching herself to bake (she can make a mean box of Betty Crocker brownies), drinking flights at local breweries and chasing around her dog, Albert, who she is convinced may be a terrorist. Megan has eschewed iTunes in favor of ad-free Spotify, which is set permanently to her “Boys & Girls with Geetars” playlist.
Tyler Durbin, Director of Business Strategy
As director of business strategy, Tyler is responsible for leveraging his marketing, sales and business savvy to identify like-minded organizations and partners for Geben to work with. Tyler spends his days building relationships, facilitating conversations and connecting dots, people and opportunities – all with a focus on finding companies whose values, goals and approach to business align with Geben’s House Rules.
When Tyler’s not in the office, he’s engulfed in the community – supporting local entrepreneurs, attending local events, and contributing to organizations that are helping build a better city. Tyler is a board member of Forge Columbus, where he’s works to support community initiatives and the people behind them. He spent three years as a Create Columbus Commissioner and has led various crowdfunding initiatives that support local nonprofits.
Just For Fun: Thanks to his intense passion for neighborhood development, Tyler can often be found working in community gardens on the South Side of Columbus and working on his home rehab project in Hungarian Village. A rare morning person among Geben’s night owls, Tyler’s trick to getting up early is setting alarms past standard tea times (e.g., 5:12, 6:47, 7:48) to create a sense of urgency. All while in college, Tyler lived in Costa Rica for a summer, studied briefly at the Vietnam National University and traveled Southeast Asia.
Nathan Okuley, Director of Social Media
As director of social media, Nathan is responsible for developing and overseeing the execution of strategic social media initiatives and interactive media activations for clients – ranging from Fortune 50 companies to emerging brands. Nathan also oversees Geben’s ever-growing team of community managers. An avid storyteller and content producer, Nathan is passionate about helping forward-thinking interactive brands take the time to connect with their customers to build loyalty, trust and authenticity.
Nathan has spent six years managing social media content strategies for a variety of clients, including Southwest Airlines, Adobe, Panasonic USA and Mission Coffee Co., plus a handful of startups and emerging brands.
Just For Fun: Having spent two years living on the road and traveling as a film festival producer, Nathan has since rediscovered his love of Columbus and the passionate, entrepreneurial community that makes it thrive. When he’s not helping others tell their story, Nathan is likely engaging in his own social interactions. In fact, he’s been the fortunate recipient of over 320 bags of Doritos and a year’s supply of Kerrygold Cheese thanks to social media stunts! He’s a specialty coffee nerd, a lover of patios, and is slightly obsessed with the game of baseball. Nathan writes about his explorations, findings, and watched-films on his website, This Wild Adventure.
Favorite Spotify Station: Nathan has obsessively created over 180 playlists to cater to every setting, occasion, or ambiance. You’re most likely to overhear him listening to (and singing along with!) “It Won’t Get Better Than This” or “It’s a Modern Day Gatsby Party.”
Taylor Ray Orsbon, Senior Account Manager
As senior account manager and startup practice leader, Taylor Ray Orsbon is responsible for developing and implementing traditional and digital PR strategies for several Geben Communication clients. A creative storyteller and media relations strategist, Taylor’s experience includes media and influencer relations; social media; strategic brand planning; technical, news and feature writing; event planning; online monitoring and research. Taylor has a proven track record of securing high-profile placements in national media outlets and blogs, including Pando Daily, Mashable, Forbes, PureWow and Babble, among others.
With multiple planners and to-do lists in-hand, Taylor also specializes in project management and helping clients plan and execute creative campaigns. Before joining Geben, Taylor worked at one of the Midwest’s largest full-service marketing communications agencies, where she served a variety of clients in the tourism, consumer, technology, business-to-business and nonprofit industries.
Just For Fun: Continuously exploring all that Columbus has to offer, Taylor is an avid seeker of live music and a good craft beer. Both a coffee connoisseur and proud foodie, Taylor enjoys embracing new tastes and dining at a variety of restaurants. While at home, she admits she likes to indulge in the latest guilty pleasure sitcoms, but you can also catch her out and about at local events like dime-a-dog night at a Clippers game or OSU tailgates with her friends and family.
Favorite Pandora Station: Today’s Country (Raised a country girl, she just can’t seem to shy away from her southern roots.)
Rose Finnerty, Account Manager
As an account manager and consumer practice leader, Rose Finnerty develops and implements results-driven PR, digital and marketing initiatives for Geben’s diverse portfolio of clients. Skilled in creative storytelling, media relations, research and social media, she specializes in helping clients determine the right mix of tools and messages to reach their target influencers and audiences. Rose has secured coverage for her clients in a wide array of publications, including the New York Times, Family Circle, Crain’s New York Business and others.
Prior to joining Geben, Rose worked in New York City with several high-profile tourism lifestyle, food, beverage and small business clients focusing on project management, media relations, event coordination and content creation. Rose graduated from the Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.
Just for fun: Rose is in love with food – cooking it, eating it, talking about it, reading about it and everything in between – and has recently begun falling in love with the worlds of craft beer and mixology. A Cleveland native turned (soon-to-be) Columbus PR pro, she looks forward to exploring all the delicious things Columbus has to offer. Rose also enjoys reading and has a book in some form (Nook, Audible or hard copy) on her at all times.
Favorite Spotify Station: With an eclectic taste in music, Rose is equally likely to be listening to jazz, 90s hip hop, classic rock and today’s pop. Just depends on her mood!
Devin Hughes, Account Manager
As an account manager and Geben’s B2B practice leader, Devin works with his team to innovate best practices, infuse creativity into PR (yes, that’s absolutely possible for B2B clients!) and achieve objective-driven results for a number of organizations large and small. He has provided strategic counsel to a wide range of clients over the years, overseeing public relations, content marketing, social media and other influencer engagement campaigns. Devin is a true data junkie – always on the look out for the latest insights, information and trends that will drive his clients’ business and communication strategies.
Just for fun: Devin is a major sports fan (particularly Cleveland teams), and enjoys fantasy sports and playing in recreational leagues. He is a bit of a foodie — always open to trying new foods and drinks. He also enjoys musicals, and holds season tickets to the theater.
Favorite Pandora Station: If a song has come out in the past ten years, Devin probably doesn’t know it – he is more familiar with 80s and 90s music (exception: Taylor Swift). To the surprise of many, he is also a fan of show tunes.
Lexi Messenger, Consumer Media Relations Specialist
Lexi Messenger, consumer media relations specialist, spends her days securing strong, positive media opportunities that help companies achieve their business goals. Pairing a creative approach to writing and storytelling with proven relationship-building skills, Lexi has landed her clients coverage in top-tier local and national consumer publications — from Brit + Co., Babble and Buzzfeed … to (614) Magazine, Good Day Columbus, Columbus Alive and Columbus Underground. Lexi is responsible for crafting storylines, drafting and executing influencer outreach strategies and building relationships with local and national consumer media, while also providing strategic counsel and guidance to Geben’s growing media relations team.
Before joining Geben, Lexi interned at a non-profit arboretum, where she helped manage social media, wrote feature stories, worked with the local press and developed a love for all things nature. Additionally, she interned for her alma matter, Ohio University, getting hands-on media relations and social media experience. This mix of traditional and digital PR experience means Lexi is always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to blend the two.
Just for fun: Secretly a little nerdy, Lexi is a fan of books like A Game of Thrones, The Hobbit and Harry Potter (and their corresponding shows/movies). Outside of the office, you’ll probably find her being a wannabe crafter on Pinterest, cheering on the Ohio Bobcats or standing in line at the local coffee shop.
Favorite Pandora Station: Mumford and Sons or 90s Pop Radio (Both help turn a stressful day into a fun one!)
Zach Gerber, Social Media Strategist
As social media strategist, Zach is responsible for developing and implementing results-driven social activations and campaigns. With a focus on quick response times, attention to detail, and a high level of accuracy, Zach works closely with clients and the Director of Social Media to ensure we’re executing social strategies that reach the right audience with the right messaging. Prior to joining Geben, Zach has spent the early years of his career developing digital marketing strategies for large advertising agencies, as well as instituting tactical social media initiatives for large pharmaceutical and healthcare brands such as Eli Lilly, Amgen and Hollister. A true believer of “designing your day,” Zach once wrote a news-worthy whitepaper from the emergency room (you’ll have to ask him about it sometime).
Just for fun: Zach is constantly on the move. As a competitive skateboarder of 15 years, he learned the hard way to be resilient and persistent in difficult situations, and has found ways to translate that into his everyday work. When he’s not out skateboarding, he enjoys traveling, trying out new restaurants in the metro Columbus area and going to see live music.
What’s your favorite playlist? The National, Modest Mouse, underground hip-hop, and all genres of jazz.
Rebecca Diehm, Account Executive
Rebecca Diehm, account executive, specializes in analyst relations, building media relationships and identifying emerging market trends and media opportunities for Geben’s growing portfolio of clients. Rebecca has secured media coverage in multiple prominent national and regional publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, LA Times and Forbes. Prior to joining Geben, Rebecca worked in Sarasota, Florida as a public relations specialist for a national real estate company where she focused on media relations, trend monitoring and social media management. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Reed College of Media at West Virginia University.
Just for fun: Rebecca is a die-hard Colts and Mountaineers fan and is notorious for quoting Friends multiple times a day. She frequents the grocery store almost daily as she loves to cook but can never seem to decide what to make for dinner until the very last minute. Rebecca enjoys yoga, running and getting just a tad bit competitive on the tennis court. On weekends you might catch her binge watching her favorite Netflix shows (and by that, she means Friends reruns), checking out a local brewery or curling up with a good book.
Favorite Pandora Station: Matchbox Twenty
Beth Shaheen, Account Executive
As an account executive for Geben Communication, Beth Shaheen is responsible for content creation, social media management, research, trend monitoring and media list development – always while maintaining a laser-like focus on supporting client goals. A constant list-maker, Beth loves crossing off to-do items to keep projects moving forward, on time and on task — a quality that came in especially helpful when she project managed a Fortune 50 brand’s social media policy/guideline playbook.
Before joining Geben, Beth completed two internships, one at a a full-service advertising agency, and the other at a non-profit organ procurement organization. While she attended The Ohio State University, Beth was heavily involved in OSU’s chapter of PRSSA and spent three years on the executive board. Since graduating, she’s become involved in Central Ohio PRSA.
Just for fun: A lifelong bookworm, Beth enjoys reading anything and everything and does not discriminate against any one genre. She has studied Spanish for 10 years and plans to visit Spain before she turns 30. In her free time, Beth loves cooking, exploring Columbus and white wine.
Favorite Pandora Station: Mumford and Sons is her default but she also likes to mix it up with Jay Z or Adele, depending on her mood.
Heather Phillips, Account Executive
Heather Phillips, account executive, provides day-to-day support for several Geben Communication clients. Heather focuses on research, results reporting and trend monitoring, while also supporting social media management and media/blogger outreach.
Heather landed her first major media placement just months after graduating from Ohio University, helping to secure a story in USA Today for a Pittsburgh-based startup that she worked with prior to joining Team Geben. She also gained relevant PR and social media experience through two internships, one working with the digital media team at a full-service advertising agency and one as a student brand manager for a large corporate company. While she attended Ohio University, Heather was an active member of the Scripps PRSSA chapter and an account associate for their student-run PR firm, ImPRessions.
Just for fun: A Cleveland native, Heather is continuously exploring her new home and all it has to offer. Outside of the office, you’ll likely find her shopping all things local, dancing to live music, wandering the streets of Columbus with her dog or cheering on a Cleveland sports team. She loves to unwind with dinner and a glass of wine at one of her favorite restaurants, or at home behind her Kindle with a new recipe she is trying in the oven.
Favorite Pandora Station: Dave Matthews Band
Miranda Scott, Social Media Manager
Miranda is a Chicago-based social media manager for Geben, and one of several community management specialists on the team. In this role, she is responsible for planning, executing and measuring effective big brand social media strategies, all while staying on top of the latest technologies, trends and applications.
Prior to joining Geben, Miranda worked at a Chicago-based public relations agency primarily serving B2B clients. She has experience in media relations, content creation, digital analytics, social media strategy, and more.
Just For Fun: Outside of work, Miranda enjoys practicing yoga, rocking out at concerts and taking in anything and everything Chicago. She can often be found curled up with a cup of coffee or glass of wine, and is always ready for new adventures!
Favorite Spotify Station: Constantly on the lookout for new tunes, Miranda loves checking out Spotify’s “New Music Tuesday” playlist every week.
Nicole Spears, Social Media Manager
Nicole Spears, social media manager, works closely with Geben’s Fortune 50 clients to provide social media strategy, content creation, community management, reporting and evaluation. Nicole specializes in consumer relations and customer service, with an eye for Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as up-and-coming social platforms. A Cleveland-area native, Nicole now lives and works out of NYC.
Nicole has also contributed articles to Brit+Co. and Social Fresh. Before joining Geben, she conducted media relations and produced content with tech startups at a full-service NYC PR agency. While enrolled in Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Nicole completed PR internships in the tech/tourism industries in San Francisco and Paris. She graduated with a focus in anthropology and business administration, was recognized by the Greater Cleveland PRSA Chapter as the 2013 PR Student of the Year.
Just For Fun: During her time away from the three screens, Nicole explores all that NYC’s five boroughs have to offer – especially great food, beautiful parks and bountiful thrift shops. She likes to feign fluency in French and fluidity in yoga class. A believer in the power of technology to augment ever-changing societies, Nicole also volunteers as a crisis counselor for Crisis Text Line, a national nonprofit.
Favorite Spotify Station: Only Nicole’s custom “radio” will give her the eclectic mix of Third Eye Blind, Stevie Wonder and Shania Twain that she need to make it through her commute.
Briana Saunders, Social Media Manager
Briana Saunders is a Seattle-based social media manager, working closely with Geben’s Fortune 50 clients to provide social media strategy, content creation, community management, reporting and evaluation. Her approach to community management is customer first and if you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right.
Briana previously managed social media at a B2B technology company, Microsoft and several technology startups. She live-tweeted President Obama’s first inauguration for the National Post of Canada, and organized one of the first tweetup groups in the US. In addition to proven community management expertise, Briana brings experience in event management, customer service and nonprofits to Geben. Briana studied African Studies at the University of Kansas.
Just for fun: When she isn’t heads down on her iPhone or laptop, Briana loves to explore Seattle. She’s an avid foodie, trying the latest restaurants and whipping up her own dishes whenever she can. Briana also sails, hikes and loves a good wine tasting trip, taking in as much of the beauty the Pacific Northwest provides as possible. Finally, she’s an intense Kansas Jayhawks fan and regularly organizes alumni watch parties in Seattle.
Favorite Spotify Station: It’s a tie between Acoustic Afternoons, Piano Ballads, and Songs to Sing in the Shower.
Kate Ryan, Social Media Manager
Kate Ryan, social media manager, oversees social media and content strategy, community management and analytics for one of Geben’s largest consumer clients. She also specializes in social media advertising and ecommerce strategy. Originally from the Ann Arbor, Michigan area, Kate lives and works out of Chicago.
Before joining Geben, Kate provided social media and digital marketing strategy recommendations to various lifestyle hospitality clients and trade associations. While attending The University of Toledo, Kate held a variety of agency internships and leadership roles with the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) before graduating with a degree in communication and political science.
Just for fun: Kate is constantly looking for new things to do and places to explore in Chicago – especially in the summer. She loves finding new music and going to concerts. Additionally, Kate is a huge sports fan, and always enjoys rooting for her favorite teams – Notre Dame, the Detroit Red Wings, and the Chicago Cubs, to name a few.
Favorite Spotify Station: ODESZA and Jamie xx are tied for #1, and “Be Bold. Or Italic. Never Regular.” always does the trick when in dire need of a dose of creativity.
Kyle Vogelmeier, Social Media Manager
Kyle Vogelmeier is a Chicago-based social media manager for one of Geben’s largest consumer clients. In this role, she provides a wide range of social media and community management services – from strategic planning to implementation and evaluation … and everything else in between.
Before joining Geben, Kyle produced and managed content at Discover Student Loans. Her agency experience began at The Ohio State University, where she participated in the school’s student-run PR firm, The PRactice. There she also completed two marketing and communications internships, one at a radio station and one at a local non-profit. Kyle has a BA in strategic communication with a minor in business.
Just for fun: Kyle likes to split her time between her two favorite cities, Chicago and Columbus. She can be found enjoying a mimosa at brunch or trying a new dish at local restaurants. In her time outside the office, Kyle loves to write, watch her favorite TV shows (Orange is the New Black, Broad City, and The Mindy Project, to name a few) and spend time with friends and family.
Favorite Spotify Station: Alternative Buzz or Afternoon Acoustic
Tom Shepherd, Social Media Manager
Tom Shepherd supports various clients across Geben’s growing social media practice, with a focus on big brands — both B2B and B2C. He specializes in content creation, community management and paid social, plus supports measurement, reporting and strategic planning.
Tom’s first job after graduating was nuts- that is, driving the Planters NUTmobile across the country and acting as the face of the brand in communities far and wide. His time in the large legume gave him real-world experience in social media, media relations and events. While pursuing a degree in Strategic Communication and Psychology at Ohio State, he completed a marketing internship at a creative media company in Columbus. Additionally, he was very involved in the Ohio Union Activities Board, securing first-class programming for all students.
Just for fun: Tom is always looking for a new adventure. In addition to driving through 32 states aboard a motorized peanut, he has eaten at more than a dozen of Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives,” run a marathon, sang way too much karaoke, dabbled in cross-stitch, and summited a 14,000-foot mountain. In his favorite city of Columbus, you might find him seeing whatever musical is in town, playing with other people’s dogs or tweeting about Ohio State football.
Favorite Spotify Station: Tom tries to listen to a different album every couple days, but frequents Ben Folds, Betty Who and the “Epic Workout” playlist.
Kelsi Rupersburg, Account Coordinator
Kelsi Rupersburg, account coordinator, is a jack-of-all-trades at Geben, providing traditional and digital PR support to both local and national clients. Whether she’s prepping pitches, building media lists, researching digital trends or results reporting, Kelsi approaches every project and task with outcomes in mind.
Kelsi honed her PR skills while attending Ohio Northern University by completing internships in Columbus, Boston and Providence, RI. She gained valuable media relations experience, contributing to coverage in outlets of all sizes, including The Columbus Dispatch, 10TV, CD102.5, Ohio Magazine, Good Morning America and Food Network Canada.
Just For Fun: Kelsi loves books of all genres, but Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides and the Harry Potter series have been her favorites from the first time she read them. When she isn’t re-watching the Harry Potter movies, she can be found trying new craft beers and finding small ways to make the big city feel like home.
Favorite Spotify station: Kelsi bounces between Weezer, The Lumineers and The Vaccines artist-based radio stations.
Ellen Schneider, Office Manager
Ellen oversees the day-to-day operation of Geben’s headquarters, where she manages everything from office administration and finances, to coordinating travel schedules and furnishing our soon-to-be-outgrown space (and, of course, fueling our team’s addiction to sparkling water). Organized, efficient and detail-oriented, she is also responsible for supporting Geben’s CEO and VP of client strategy, plus keeping employees – in Columbus and across the US – cool, calm, collected and connected.
Ellen’s prior experience encompasses customer service, staff development, program management, special event coordination, and administration of grant programs. Before signing on to help manage Geben’s growing team, she spent 15 years in the nonprofit industry, managing office/programs and coordinating volunteers for the American Diabetes Association, YMCA of Central Ohio and The Boys & Girls Clubs of Rutherford County in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Ellen received her BS in recreation management from the University of Tennessee.
Just For Fun: When she’s not golfing, running or doing yoga, Ellen enjoys quilting, crafting or killing time on Pinterest. She’s a fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio State Buckeyes and Tennessee Volunteers, and (somewhat) unashamed to profess her love for reality TV, Survivor and anything on Bravo. Ellen has been to 45 states, with a goal to visit all 50 by 50 (it’s no shock she loves to travel!).