Ana Gabriela Fernández recently moved back to Washington D.C. after living in Caracas, Venezuela for over 20 years. She holds a master’s degree in International Relations from the Universidad Central de Venezuela and has a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from the Universidad Metropolitana of Caracas. She’s fluent in both English and Spanish and can handle herself pretty well in French. Her goal is to learn at least one more language. In Venezuela, she worked as international coordinator for one of the opposition leader’s electoral campaigns. She also performed as Chief of Staff for a Congressman at the Latin-American Parliament and most recently she was Project Manager at the consulting firm Machina. Outside of work, Ana enjoys hanging out with her friends and getting to know D.C.

Who/what has had the most impact on your academic or professional interests?

My father who was a diplomat had a major influence in my career choices, especially in deciding on my master’s degree. Then again, Venezuela’s turmoil has had the biggest impact in both my academic and professional interests. Since I was 14 years old I have somehow been involved in Venezuela’s democratic struggle, but especially since I turned 18. Growing up in society where democratic and civic values are at great stake made me realize the importance of well-educated people being actively involved in the promotion of such values. That is the combination of both interests (academic and professional) that I find vital for anybody’s personal growth: a good academic base that can launch your professional goals.

What do you look for in an internship experience, and how has this shaped your career goals?

I look for an experience that can strengthen and broaden my skill set as well as the opportunity to be involved in projects and topics that can further inspire and motivate me. Working in environments like these provides the opportunity to learn from those around me. 

What are your long-term career goals?

I have always expected to work on international affairs, as this area has always appealed to me. Given Venezuela’s polarized situation this has been a difficult goal to pursue, but something that I have never given up on. I have a keen and honest interest in international politics. I believe that by pursuing the right solutions, international relations may have great impact in the shaping of future democratic and peaceful societies.

What has surprised you so far about your journey towards your career goals? 

I believe it has been my persistence and undying will to continue pursuing projects and goals that can better influence societies into peaceful and democratic paths, despite the difficult and pressing situations I have been involved in. Also, people have been very surprising as well, including the will that human beings have to continue fighting no matter how hard and complicated life can get. It is amazing how humankind will always find an idea or a goal to hold on to, to move forward.

Can you expand on your interest in public relations?

Given my professional background, I strongly believe that good public relations management is a key element for many areas – the public and private sector, social movements and groups and political or non-political leaders  in order to be able to both correctly express and spread the message you want, an element much needed in the work environment. Miscommunication can be devastating in many circumstances. Learning the way this process is developed for clients is an amazing learning experience.

What comes easiest to you as an intern at CLS Strategies?

The research and fast-paced environment comes easiest to me as an intern. In most of my previous positions I was the point research person and I led many investigative projects on a great variety of topics. I have also worked on at least five different electoral campaigns, which has made me acquire good skills to be able to handle myself and tackle situations under stressing and pressing deadlines.

What has been your biggest challenge as an intern at CLS Strategies? How do you address that?

One of the biggest challenges for me at CLS has been keeping up with the great amount of information that the firm manages, especially because of the variety of clients that it has. Here at CLS Strategies I have had to work on further developing my organizational skills in order to better separate and prioritize each account’s needs and information. A good way to address this is by being well-organized and not being afraid to ask questions when I am confused. I always remember - there aren’t any dumb questions. I think it’s dumber not to ask.

What is your favorite thing about living in Washington, D.C.?

Being raised abroad and having lived in so many different places because of my father’s career, for me it is amazing to finally have come back and get to know the place where I was born, after hearing so much about it. I am truly in awe of the city’s beauty and the many different social and cultural things that it provides for its residents. Also, the sense of power that comes from it - after all, it is called the world’s capital. So there isn’t really a thing I can say that it is my one favorite about living in Washington D.C. Although I can’t wait for spring and see the cherry blossoms!

On our website we ask all of our staff to share three things about themselves. What are three things about yourself that we might not know?

1. I can’t be modest about this. I’m an amazing Latin dancer. You name it, I dance it. 

2. I am a Potterhead. Always. 

3. I may come as a very quiet person at first, but once you press the right buttons, there is no shutting me up! 

February 9, 2017

In nearly three weeks since Inauguration, President Trump’s willingness to engage with – and about – specific brands on Twitter has kept many jittery business leaders on their toes. And it is no secret that how to avoid, or react to, a Trump tweet has become one of Corporate America’s most frequently discussed concerns.

The recent Nordstrom incident provides a good case-in-point. So in an effort to provide some guidance, we wanted to briefly analyze the facts, and share some valuable lessons for companies looking to navigate this new landscape.  

Lesson #1: There Are No Boundaries

Perhaps the first lesson is that we may not be able to predict the scope of the president’s tweets, as they may know no bounds. The purpose behind the president’s prior tweets, aimed at companies, was to criticize them because, in his view, they charged the U.S. government too much money for projects (Boeing, Lockheed Martin), or cost our country jobs (Carrier, Ford, Toyota). There was a semblance of a policy disagreement underlying each of them. 

The latest tweet is very different; it clearly sprung from the president’s desire to defend his daughter while criticizing Nordstrom for cutting the Ivanka Trump clothing line from its stores this season. Here is the text:

“My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom.  She is a great person – always pushing me to do the right thing!  Terrible!” 

Press secretary Sean Spicer later doubled down and tried to inject policy into the flap, calling Nordstrom’s decision a “direct attack on his policies and her name.” But indisputably, the president’s tweet took direct aim at Nordstrom’s business decision.

Lesson #2: A Fast, Credible Response Can Mitigate Adverse Impacts

Nordstrom responded quickly and matter-of-factly to the president’s tweet, explaining in a statement:

“We made this decision based on performance. Over the past year, and particularly in the last half of 2016, sales of the brand have steadily declined to the point where it didn’t make good business sense for us to continue with the line for now.” 

The Company went on to say it had a “great relationship with the Ivanka Trump team” including “open conversations with them over the past year to share what we’ve seen and Ivanka was personally informed of our decision in early January.”

Nordstrom’s response is proof that straight, factual responses from targets of tweets play well and can even win the news cycle. Nordstrom’s response was pitch-perfect. The company responded with a short and reasonable business explanation for its decision. It avoided any language that might further provoke the president. And Nordstrom closed with nice words about Ivanka and her team.

Lesson #3: Not All Trump Tweets Are Created Equal

While the president’s tweets criticizing companies for overcharging the government or moving jobs overseas may be potent, tweets that defend his family and call out companies for sound business decisions may be less impactful. Along these same lines, the Ivanka Trump line of clothing is not a big deal for Nordstrom’s business success say, in comparison, to Boeing’s relationship with the U.S. government which was at issue with criticism regarding the cost of the new Air Force One.

Lesson #4: Secondary Narratives = Diminished Impact

Trump tweets that trigger secondary, unintended debates diminish his intended impact.

In this case, the president’s Nordstrom tweet set off an unintended debate and significant media coverage about the ethics of the president commenting on routine business decisions that adversely affect his family. That debate was further exacerbated when the official POTUS Twitter account retweeted the president’s personal message, and Spicer escalated the attack during his daily press briefing. Over the course of the day, the narrative of the news cycle shifted quickly from the substance of Trump’s tweet to its appropriateness, a transition that repositioned Nordstrom from villain to victim.

Lesson #5: The Market Is Adapting

The market may be adjusting to, and no longer overreacting to, Trump tweets.

Having seen Lockheed Martin and Toyota bounce back strongly following Trump tweets, the market may be factoring in this experience and taking new tweets in stride. For Nordstrom, this impact was clear: after the stock initially dropped about 2% as news of the tweet hit, it eventually closed up 4%, with its strongest one-day gain this year, even though the overall market dropped slightly.


President Trump’s tweets are giving rise to a new communications specialty, advising companies on best practices to respond to critical presidential social media messages. There is a growing body of experience from which to learn, but companies should remain vigilant and flexible because every situation is different, and there is not one best way to manage when your business is caught in the @realdonaldtrump crosshairs.

January 17, 2017

President Obama’s farewell speech from McCormick Place in Chicago on January 10 marked the end of an era. It also marked a new beginning for online livestreams, as it was the first time a livestream was broadcast across all major platforms in 360-degree video. Two days later, Facebook announced its live streaming platform, Facebook Live, will allow broadcasters to “go live” from their desktop and laptop computers.

This latest update should come as no surprise to social media gurus, as Facebook Live continues to set itself apart in the fight for livestream airspace between platforms like YouTube, Twitter and Periscope. Facebook’s efforts to promote their video streaming service have been two-fold: a pervasive print advertising campaign that extends from city bus stops to full-scale building banners, and the unique ability to prioritize Facebook Live posts on users’ newsfeeds.

Facebook’s cityscape advertising of just one aspect of its ever-expanding platform is relatively unprecedented in the digital space. Much like when the social media giant purchased Instagram, this advertising blitz signals a trend in the way digital media is being produced and consumed. As this latest shift in priorities indicates, Facebook prefers to set these trends – not adjust to them.

In our own way, CLS Strategies works hard to make sure our clients can put these digital innovations to good use. This past November, my colleague Tim Hogan and I joined one of our clients, the Academy of Actuaries, for their Annual Meeting. Using the only camera approved by Facebook for live streaming, Mevo, we live streamed several award presentations and brief remarks throughout the two-day event. In doing so, we were able to provide the Academy’s Facebook followers with the highlights of the event, generating hundreds of organic views in a short timeframe.

It is only a matter of time before Facebook allows users to promote their videos while broadcasting live, which will inevitably lead to even greater growth and proliferation of this burgeoning streaming service. In the meantime, we look forward to finding more opportunities for our clients to broadcast important events and experiences with the click of a mouse. 

As the old song goes, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” As we say goodbye to President Obama, we say hello to Facebook Live, and the myriad promotional opportunities it offers businesses and consumers alike. 

January 11, 2017

Name: Dan Knight
Title: Managing Associate
Time with CLS: 7 months

1. In your career, what is the best advice you’ve been given?

“Don’t be scared” (from the individual who Jim Messina called the “smartest Republican operative today”)

2. If you weren’t in the PR industry, what would you be doing?

Probably still working in campaign politics. I’ll always be passionate about it.

3. What dream client/industry would you like to work with?

I’d like to do something where I can work to promote U.S.-Greek relations. Being of Greek descent and from an immigrant family, I cherish my heritage and would like to see it promoted even more strongly within the U.S.

4. What is your favorite use of social media in PR?

Twitter. It has such an incredible reach in both organic and paid fashion, and you can influence countless people across the world. With a 24-hour news cycle, Twitter has truly changed the game. I’ve seen it in PR and politics.

5. How did you get started in PR?

I wanted to expand my skill sets and abilities and gain experience in an industry outside of political campaigns. PR has always interested me and it was a natural transition.

6. What is your favorite movie?

The Godfather (I know a lot of people say this, but I’ve seen it over 100 times and can quote most of it)

7. What was the last book you read?

Coolidge (biography of our [greatest] 30th U.S. President)

8. If you can bring one fictional character from books, television or movies to life, who would you want to work with you at CLS?

Don Draper. He was such a boss in PR/advertising and life in general.

9. Dog person or cat person?

Dog (I’ll be in the market for a German Shepherd puppy in the next 3-5 years)

10. What is the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Magiritsa (Greek Easter stew of lamb offal, egg, vegetables, and olive oil)


CLS News
December 20, 2016