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Blog: My Day with the Publicist

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To say Lisa Rau is a people person would be an understatement.

That much was more than obvious as I followed the director of PR/publicity for Silver Dollar City on May 9 for Springfield Business Journal’s annual Day in the Life series.

Even before I arrived at the theme park nestled in the Ozarks hills, I knew I was in for a thrill ride. Lisa and I spoke via phone a few days prior, and she was a ball of energy. You have to be when you’ve got a dozen or more radio stations working remote spots from your theme park – and that’s just her Saturday schedule.

From the moment SBJ photographer Wes Hamilton and I set foot in the park it was go, go, go — and go some more. I hit all three health rings on my Apple watch before lunch.

Lisa knows everyone, and I say that almost literally. From the park’s regular guests, to her co-workers and the Herschend Family Entertainment board members we passed while walking, she greets everyone with a smile and a hug. Yes, Lisa is a big hugger.

In my five hours with her, I got the sense Lisa not only cares about what she does, but also the people she does it with. By extension, Wes and I are now part of that group. During a rare bit of office time, Lisa questioned us on everything from our jobs at SBJ to love lives and our middle names.

Lisa is a people person through and through.

Reporter’s Notebook
A day in the life of a publicist is filled with too much to fit on one printed news page. Little tidbits of insight get left on the cutting room floor, such as text messages from Billy Long or her favorite ring made from a fork and handcrafted at SDC.

As always, I had my iPhone at the ready to capture each moment. If a picture is worth a thousand words, here’s another couple grand that didn’t make print.

As we waited for the first show of the day, Lisa had her hot-pink phone in hand. It’s never far from sight. As the day went on, I noticed Lisa rarely says “hello” when she answers a call, she just launches into a plan or fix for the situation.

Lisa’s longtime boyfriend played his first gig at SDC that day. He earned his street cred in Nashville, but Lisa was a ball of nerves watching from the back as he took the stage.

Food is a big part of the SDC experience and this trip didn’t disappoint. This is a BBQ Sundae – fried apples, baked beans, coleslaw, brisket and topped with a rib. Yeah, you read that right. It was a jar of heaven. Lisa had a similar jar but with pulled pork.

At various points during the day, we stopped to view SDC’s super secret roller coaster project. Dubbed Mountain Mystery 2018, Lisa loves to show it off and have visitors – or journalists – guess the details.

At one point, she even took Wes and I to a special viewing spot off the side of Thunderation. I don’t know what it is, but it’s going to be huge. This picture doesn’t do it justice.

Every time Lisa leaves her office, she swings through the bakery near the entrance. She doesn’t eat a lot of sweets, she just likes to chat with the people. Truth be told, she allows herself one funnel cake and two apple dumplings per season. Today was not that day, but I couldn’t pass up snapping a pic of the biggest chocolate chip cookie I’ve ever seen.

We spent about 15 minutes with this TV crew from Joplin doing a spot on Branson vacations. Lisa has print, TV and radio journalists in the park that day.

The walls of Lisa’s office are lined with her accomplishments. While there are a few awards in there, too, for Lisa, that means front pages.

This is one of her favorites. It’s not often you make the cover of the Wall Street Journal.

Desk time is a rarity, but you’ve just got to sit down and puzzle things out. Here, she had three journalists in the park and two publicists to coordinate. That’s a lot of schedules.

This is the department’s unofficial wall of fame. Clippings from newspapers far and wide adorn the wall –  including a recent SBJ front page on the plans for the park’s new coaster project.

It all comes back to the food. We meet a Branson Tri-Lakes News reporter at the ice cream shop. Of course, Wes and I got a sample. SDC gives employees these small cones on their birthday each year.

This was one of two times I saw Lisa sit down all day. The radio crew from KTTS was a bit behind schedule, and we had a few minutes to kill – hot pink phone in hand.

This is the first of a handful of walking radio interviews slated for drive time on KTTS.

On your 25th anniversary with SDC, you get a sign in the park. Lisa’s hangs on the taffy shop, and she couldn’t be prouder of it. It was our last stop for the day.

I end each Day in the Life the same way – with a selfie. Thanks Lisa for letting me be part of your tribe for the day.

To read more about the day, check out the full article and browse Wes’ professional photos in the featured gallery.

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