Houston Marketing Moguls: Recognizing Rachel Gottschalk


Imagine one of the brightest, wittiest, A-game marketing professionals in Houston with a knack for effectively building marketing plans that align perfectly with strategic goals and enter Rachel Gottschalk. She’s just one of those gals who has got our ambiguous profession that IS Marketing figured out. With a work roster that includes the likes of the Houston Rockets and Memorial Hermann – clearly others have figured her out too. Enjoy.

Meet Rachel Gottschalk: Marketing Director – Orthopedics/Sports Medicine

Memorial Hermann Health System

Maintains extensive experience in developing, implementing and executing, marketing, communications and corporate development strategies.

CMG: How did you wind up in sales/marketing?

RG: I actually majored in marketing in college so it is something that has always appealed to me. I thought I would end up in the advertising world as opposed to marketing, but through my experience in media buying at an agency I realized I was more interested in the campaigns our clients were running rather than how to best place them. I also realized that working directly with clients and stations played perfectly into my strengths and therefore I migrated to that role.

CMG: Who has had the biggest impact on your career and why? 

RG: My former boss at the Houston Rockets was truly a mentor to me (ahem – Dawn Keen.) She saw a lot of potential and afforded me the autonomy and flexibility to create and implement new ideas as I had them. She trusted me and therefore played more of a support role rather than micromanaging my efforts. I also learned how to effectively manage people – different types of people – from her. She allowed me to observe and learn from how she dealt with various situations with employees and co-workers. The good, the bad, and the ugly, so to speak. That education has proven invaluable.

CMG: What in your marketing experience are you most proud of?

RG: While I was with the Rockets, a co-worker had left the organization and there was a shuffling of the deck where I was given several large, critical sponsorship accounts to manage. For a couple of those accounts, the partnership had become very strained. With focused efforts, I turned the relationships back into positive ones and secure a renewed, long-term partnership with each. I am proud that the relationships I built with those accounts and contacts continue to exist today and I still keep in touch and/or work with them in some capacity even now.

CMG: Where do you come up with your most creative ideas?

RG: Creative ideas are everywhere! I think I have gotten just as many great ideas from meetings and conferences as I have at sporting events, concerts and cocktails with friends. If something I see or hear strikes me as “interesting” or “cool” then it worked! I am still a consumer first – before a marketer – and it is worth trying to apply that “something” to what I am trying to accomplish in my role as a marketer.

CMG: One word that describes you?

RG:  Accountable.

CMG: In the Houston business world – what do you want to be remembered for?

RG: I make an effort not to just do things because they have been done before. I’d like to be thought of as someone who is able to take a step back and look at initiatives and opportunities objectively and only execute those that truly have the ability to bring value to my team.

CMG: What is one hard lesson you’ve learned about marketing?

RG: Just because you think it is the greatest idea since ‘Happy Hour’ – that is the saying, right? – doesn’t mean that everyone will agree with you. Or, that it will in fact turn out the way you expect. I have learned to be as diligent as possible when trying to predict or sell others on the value of ideas before diving into them. 

CMG: How do you integrate your marketing efforts? Can you give us an example? 

RG: Good ol’ communication is the key here for me. I have been fortunate to work for multifaceted organizations with many departments all focused on their own areas of expertise with the idea that all of those strengths will come together for an outstanding final product. Easier said than done when, in reality, everyone gets caught up in their own departments’ projects and goals and deadlines. It is easy to lose sight of the “big picture”. Communication can help bridge that gap – whether it be regular, cross-departmental meetings or off-site, team-building outings.

CMG: Do you have any tips or best practices for measuring ROI?

RG: Two lessons I’ve learned here. 1) Set target goals before activating if at all possible. 2) If you have no benchmark and cannot set a goal beforehand…DON’T! It does no good to set an arbitrary target. If you meet or exceed that target – it doesn’t mean it was a success. If you fall short of that target –  it doesn’t mean it was a failure.

CMG: What is your secret weapon? ff

RG: This will sound odd, but I try to remain a bit removed from my current position. Over time, it is easy to “drink the Kool-Aid” and not remember what it was like before you became a part of your company. This sounds like a good thing and probably what HR execs dream of at night. However, I believe that by attempting to stay closer to who you are targeting (the “consumer”), you have a better shot at actually reaching them. You become a bit jaded when you live and breathe a certain product or service or vision every day at work. It is important to remember that most people receiving your message don’t know, or frankly care, about it as much as you do. Our message can speak truer to the audience if we can still think like that audience. 

CMG: Amen. 

Houston Marketing Moguls: Recognizing Dan Parsons


At Cox Media Group Houston, we believe in the power of relationships. We also believe in the potential of connecting with individuals and businesses with synergistic goals to succeed – especially those who make a career out of making Houston better. And that is precisely why we couldn’t be more honored to have a friend in Dan Parsons – President at the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Metropolitan Houston and South Texas.

Dan’s team at the BBB and the rest of Houston’s city leaders are on a perpetual mission to ensure the growth and vitality of Houston’s business community and economic health. And it turns out – folks like Dan happen to be really good at it. But don’t take our word for it – take Forbes’.


Meet Dan Parsons – President

Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Metropolitan Houston and South Texas.

Maintains 32+ years of experience in media and business.

CMG: How did you decide upon your current career path? What were some motivating factors that led you to where you are today?

DP: It kind of found me. I was planning to be a Band Director…as I have a great passion for music. But in college, before one could be a “DJ”, he had to cut his teeth in news. And voila! I got the media bug. In 1983, I faced a forced move to either Washington D.C. or New York.  At that point in my radio career, I also found out the BBB wanted somebody to “chase” people originally in the Witness Protection, now relocated here running scams for credit repair…timeshare scams, etc….and that was that!  From chasing politicos to con artists! [And sometimes they are pretty close in comparison!]

CMG: What are the most important lessons you would share with other business owners on how to grow and maintain a viable business in today’s economy? 

DP: Very simple….everybody wants growth.  But with it comes responsibility. So does “growing” customer service along with [increased] marketing, sales and market penetration. Failure to do that is 95% of what generates our complaints. That and basic communication.

CMG: Who has had the biggest impact on your career and why?

DP: My first BBB mentor, then-President, Dick McClain. He hired me in 1983 and showed me the beauty and purity of the self-regulatory world.

CMG: Which of your marketing or business experiences are you most proud of?

DP: Leading new generations of BBB leaders and therefore new generations of informed customers and reliable businesses.

CMG: Where do you come up with your most creative or strategic ideas?  

DP: I have a never ending flow of ideas as I am always thinking of our model and what the best, next innovation will be. [I’m] always keeping in mind our core mission and avoiding sudden, violent turns of the tiller…that is what kills organizations!

CMG: What is one word that describes you?

DP: Passionate.

CMG: In the Houston business world – what do you want to be remembered for?

DP: What the Houston Press coined on me in 2001 – “The Most Honest Man in Houston”.   Note – it did not say smartest, richest, or nicest.  But the truth is purity unto itself and of that I am constantly focused on.

CMG: What is one hard lesson you’ve learned about marketing or business in general?

DP: There are always two sides to a story, and sometimes three or four or more and one must strive to find the right one…

CMG: What is your secret weapon?

DP: Mentoring future generations by setting a role model of ethics and having those new leaders as my allies.

CMG: Describe Houston’s business landscape 10 years from now. 

DP: Wow – what I HOPE?  Increased business diversity (as the current downturn will test us) and maturing to be a city that is proud of what it IS…not what some self-appointed “elitists” would have us be. Also, comfort in our skin, even if it is a little rough at times – and remembering we are all Americans and not at war with the rest of the country, just because it is way to blow off anger.  

Houston Marketing Moguls: Recognizing Suzan Sherburn

1-Suzan_Sherburn_12_20_04_v2On behalf of Cox Media Group Houston, I’m pleased to publish the inaugural interview for our Marketing Moguls feature section by highlighting a dear friend of mine – Suzan Sherburn – who also happens to be a rock star in the marketing world.

Suzan comes from a background steeped in corporate branding, marketing and sponsorship’s. Her views are always based on broad knowledge and experience – which makes her one of those credible experts you know has gone through it before. When Suzan talks – we listen. Enjoy.

Meet Suzan Sherburn – Associate Director, Global Branding and Sponsorship’s

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Maintains 25 years+ experience in marketing and communications positions within the financial, high-tech, transportation and health care industries.

CMG: How did you wind up in sales/marketing?

SS: I ended up in marketing because I couldn’t find a teaching job.  After grad school, I moved to Los Angeles to continue teaching English as a second language. I had previously taught ESL at the University of North Texas and at the American Cultural Center in Alexandria, Egypt.  When I landed in LA, I got a job at Glendale Federal Bank as an advertising copywriter just to pay the bills.  I realized I had a knack for business communications and so I never went back to teaching.

CMG: Who has had the biggest impact on your career and why? 

SS: I would not be where I am today in my career without the unconditional love and support from my family.  Whether it’s working late, travelling out of town on business, changing jobs, or relocating, my husband and son have always been my biggest cheerleaders.

CMG: What in your marketing experience are you most proud of? 

SS: I was on the core team that led the rebranding of UPS in 2001.  Getting to completely rebrand a company the size of UPS was a once in a lifetime opportunity.  I learned so much about the business and the complexities of changing a logo on everything from airplanes and trucks to uniforms and packaging.  After working in secret for 18 months, the best part was when we finally revealed the brand strategy and seeing UPSers, customers and partners embrace the new direction. 

CMG: Where do you come up with your most creative ideas? 

SS: I usually do my best creative thinking when I’m reading about others’ ideas and innovations. It gets me thinking about how I could take that concept or product and apply it to what I’m doing.  I try to read a variety of web sites, blogs, novels, and magazines across multiple industries and topics.  Right now I’m reading several golf publications to get ideas for a golf sponsorship.  I also share what I’m reading and learning with my colleagues which often sparks creative conversations.

CMG: One word that describes you? 

SS: Purposeful

CMG: In the Houston business world – what do you want to be remembered for?

SS: Helping others succeed and make connections.  I love it when I can connect two colleagues and they end up collaborating on some level.  In fact, an associate at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo connected me with Cox Media.  And now I’m being featured in their marketing blog!

CMG: What is one hard lesson you’ve learned about marketing?

SS: You may have the greatest idea in the history of marketing, but if the decision makers aren’t buying it, it’s dead in the water.  So, be well prepared when pitching ideas.  The follow-up lesson is that if your idea is shot down, don’t waste time sulking.  Have a drink with a friend to mourn the loss and then move on to your next great idea.

CMG: How do you integrate your marketing efforts? Can you give us an example? 

SS: Marketing can be so specialized these days.  You’ve got one group doing traditional advertising, one doing social media and another doing sponsorships.  While everyone usually sees the value in integrating efforts, it’s still a challenge to get teams to work together and “open their borders.” 

One way I’ve been able to integrate our sponsorship efforts was to form a cross-functional team, made up from staffers from communications, development, corporate alliances, community relations and marketing. We meet regularly to brainstorm ideas, address third-party requests, and approve strategies.  Everyone is expected to participate and be accountable.  Once a sponsorship event has concluded, we publish an executive summary that highlights efforts of the entire team.  I think our team understands that our collective efforts make for a bigger story and certainly has more impact with our target audiences.

CMG: Do you have any tips or best practices for measuring ROI?

SS: Determine what you want to measure before you activate. Then create a process for capturing the data. For example, if you have a team, you might delegate one metric to each person to be responsible for and then give them a timeframe for reporting back to you for the final summary report.

CMG: What is your secret weapon?

SS: As one colleague recently said to me, “You take work seriously, but not yourself.”  Being approachable, keeping it real and injecting humor is my secret to developing great work relationships

Houston Marketing Moguls: Leroy Shafer

Check out these video interviews to learn more about the marketing creative, integrating marketing decisions, and branding behind one of Houston’s best known events!

His decision behind 2014’s marketing creative:


Their 2014 digital, mobile, and social integrated marketing plan:


How to get respect in Houston:


Marketing tactics and strategies: