“When Life Zigs, You Gotta Zag”

| Written by: Karen Y. Kirksey

Carolyn Gosselin-chicken salad chickTelling a good story is key in public relations. When Carolyn Gosselin, APR, addressed the Florida Public Relations Association-Capital Chapter, the past-president of the FPRA-Orlando Chapter told two good stories.

Gosselin is Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer at the Florida Chamber of Commerce in the Capital City. She’s also co-owner, along with husband Bob, of the popular Tallahassee eatery Chicken Salad Chick, with locations at Market Square and Apalachee Parkway.

At the monthly meeting on July 21 at the Capital City Country Club, Gosselin spoke about  “When Life Zigs, You Gotta Zag,” sharing how the skills and experience of communications professionals can be great preparation for handling today’s inevitable challenges. The University of Florida journalism alumna didn’t start out in the food industry, but, she said, “We take the skills we have and learn about other issues.”

She began with “The Story of Stacy” and ended with “The Story of Me.” Each involved an intelligent, ambitious woman — one in Auburn, Alabama; the other in Tallahassee — whose lives would intersect all because of chicken salad. Stacy was a young mother of three children under the age of five, who started the business when her marriage ended. She was a college graduate but had never worked outside the home. Stacy was a mom by day and a cook by night — preparing chicken salad in her home to earn a living, selling to neighbors and other locals, until she was stopped by a courtesy call from the county health department.

In 2008, Stacy teamed up with friend and future husband Kevin Brown, a single dad with business acumen. They founded Chicken Salad Chick –- then, a small take-out restaurant. Gosselin was later brought on board to help them solidify the company’s brand. With an impressive background of working in marketing and public relations, including a stint at  the National Restaurant Association in Washington, D.C., she was a perfect fit.

Gosselin began her research using focus groups. She wanted to understand why some people ate at the restaurant every day! Then came a food philosophy, new logo, website, décor/packaging and franchising materials.

The rest is history. Gosselin fell in love with the chicken salad product and brand. Today Chicken Salad Chick has 15 flavors and more than 50 restaurants throughout the South. Gosselin said celebrity chef Paula Dean calls it “the best chicken salad in the country.”

Sadly, Kevin Brown died last November at the age of 40, of colon cancer. However, not before establishing the Chicken Salad Chick Foundation, dedicated to fighting cancer and feeding the hungry.  http://www.chickensaladchick.com/foundation