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  • Writer's pictureWomen Story

Wendy Kauffman's journey to success and leadership in the communications sector

Standing out as a leader in Toronto's congested public relations and advisory market is not easy or for the faint of heart. After 20 years working in a public relations and public affairs agency, Wendy Kauffman set out to build a new type of consulting practice - one focused on the services most needed for the next decade and delivered in a way organizations prefer to do business. Today, Wendolyn Reputation Management is a highly specialized senior communications consultancy offering ESG communications, issues management/crisis communication, and training programs for the public, corporate, and non-profit sectors.

Journey to entrepreneurship:

Despite guidance ten years earlier to go out on her own, it took her another decade to find the courage to start her own practice. Like many entrepreneurs, her greatest worry stemmed from whether she had the network and ability to turn her ideas into a successful business. However, a clear and focused business model, the ability to think well under pressure, and a passion for solving complex communication problems made her journey from employee to entrepreneur successful from the get-go. 

The unique approach of Wendolyn Reputation management:

Designing services for the next decade meant identifying the most significant communications needs and opportunities in the coming years. Offering crisis management services was an easy decision, building on years of experience providing calm, clear, transparent, and strategic communications in turbulent times. 

Her quest to build more purpose into her consulting work led her to be an early promoter of using an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) framework, especially to identify and plan for long-term risks and opportunities. 

Finally, Wendy focused on how she could help organizations build internal capacity by providing training programs that build strong spokespersons, presenters and thought leaders. 

Wendy also moved away from the typical retainer model, opting for shorter-term project-based work. Rather than competing with internal departments, Wendy focused on boosting the work of internal client teams with specialized services that can be integrated into existing marketing channels and schedules.

Proficiency in Crisis Management:

Wendy's extensive experience in crisis management has helped national and international private, public and non-profit organizations handle challenges with potential reputational impact. 

Whether proactive plan development or reactive issues management, Wendy has overseen communication strategies covering health pandemics, cyber security, plant closures, layoffs, health and safety violations, security concerns, and customer service issues. In doing this, she works closely with senior leadership and internal and external legal counsel.

Impact Communicational Services:

As climate change-related regulation rolled out across many industries and consumers forced social issues to become business agenda items, Wendy saw an important communications role for her consultancy to play.  

Her firm offers environmental, social, and governance (ESG) communications for new or veteran organizations to impact communications. She balances the business risks of understating corporate impact and the growing litigation against companies that overstate their accomplishments and mislead consumers. 

Her ESG communications services focus on internal and external messaging, positioning and storytelling. They range from customized services for businesses to toolkits for associations to support their members in meeting requirements in this area. 

Added Services:

Supporting both her crisis communications and ESG communications work is developing strong leadership and voices within her clients' organizations. She does this by offering a suite of signature, first-in-kind services. One example is a verbal and non-verbal communication course to strengthen spokespersons in interviews, presentations, or business development settings. Another example is a four-part Thought Leadership Development program to help everyone, from ambitious managers to partners, to build their professional brand within their industry.

Advice to future female entrepreneurs:

Wendy's counsel for female entrepreneurs is to understand (and to be unafraid to state) the worth of their service or product. Negotiating on price alone turns a business into a commodity. Instead, she says, focus on the value of what is being offered and start fee negotiations there. There is an additional reason, Wendy says, to focus on value delivery. If a client/customer cannot see value from the start, the supplier will always be working from a defensive position. Maintaining someone's good impression is much easier than building it from scratch. 

The tale of Wendy Kauffman is one of tenacity, skill, and inventiveness. In the fast-paced marketing and advertising field, Wendy has carved out a niche market that is distinctive, creative and ready for the future. 


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