Getting to know Infinite Global’s newest Vice President, Clay Steward
June 9, 2021
Infinite Global recently welcomed Clay Steward to its West Coast team as Vice President, where he’ll be drawing on nearly two decades of experience to advise law firms, financial services companies, and other complex organizations on reputational strategy. We sat down with Clay to learn more about him, his professional background and his philosophy for helping clients distinguish themselves in competitive markets.
Tell us about yourself.
I live in California’s Central Valley, outside Fresno, at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, with my wife, two children (ages 8 & 6) and two rescue dogs. After graduating from UC Berkeley, and getting my JD from UC Hastings, I practiced law for a while, before transitioning into strategic communications. As my co-workers are quickly learning, I will talk your ear off about movies, music and baseball.
What were you doing previous to joining IG?
Immediately prior to joining Infinite Global, I served in a senior role at another professional services-focused PR agency. I’m actually a lawyer by trade. At the outset of my professional career, I practiced law in Los Angeles for several years, before launching my PR and marketing career advising nonprofit organizations, including St. Joseph Center and Inner-City Arts, on fundraising and communications strategy. In 2016 I brought these two threads of my career together and began working in legal marketing and PR.
How did you become interested in PR?
What I really loved about being a lawyer was the research, writing and art of persuading my audience, skills that have served me well in PR. I certainly owe much of my success in navigating my clients through reputational challenges to my legal education and time as a litigator. I’ve always been a media junky, but it wasn’t until I served in a communications role in the nonprofit sector in LA that I really envisioned myself as someone who could drive organizational messaging and shape compelling stories. Even though I left the legal profession, I never lost my love for the law. I made a very conscious decision to focus my PR career on the legal and professional services arena because I deeply understand the law firm environment and the mind of the lawyer.
What was your first week like?
My first week was a perfect combination of busy and breezy. I’ve been super impressed with the onboarding process at Infinite. I had numerous calls set up my first week with folks from across the agency, who brought me up to speed on how things are done here. I also jumped right into work, helping on a crisis project, supporting a couple of our client teams and assisting in our ongoing business development efforts. I ‘ve quickly learned that we have a very gregarious, supportive group at Infinite. I feel very welcomed.
What sectors are you covering for clients?
You name it. My clients range from law firms to consulting firms to tech businesses to professional associations. On a given day, I’m constantly toggling back and forth between legal and non-legal, litigation and transactional departments, crisis work and message development, media relations and account management. In terms of the substance of what I’m assisting my clients with, it’s always changing. One day its data privacy. The next its venture capital. And then its labor and employment. I throw myself into every account and task with the goal of becoming intellectually fluent in whatever industries or sectors are important to my clients.
Tell us about your average day at IG.
I start my day by diving into email, setting the day’s intention and determining priorities. Sometimes this requires immediate action, meaning I need to handle a few tasks before reading the day’s news. But most days, by 7am I’m surveying the day’s top news stories and scanning for items that may be of interest to my clients. The rest of my day will typically involve some combination of account management, strategy development, active media pitching, writing and planning. In addition to regular client calls, I participate in a variety of internal team calls to ensure we are meeting client expectations. Part of my job involves supervising many of our talented staff, a role I really enjoy. This includes everything from reviewing and editing pitches, to discussing news angles, to brainstorming creative anchor campaigns. Amidst all that, I also try to find some time to spend with the team at our “digital watercooler,” discussing our favorite shows, sharing photos of our dogs and contemplating what the hell an NFT actually is.
What are your interests outside of work?
My highest priority is being an engaged father and husband. Given our location in the Sierra Nevada foothills, much of my free time is spent playing outdoors with my family (camping, hiking, fishing, skiing, snowshoeing, kayaking). I’m also a baseball fanatic (Go Dodgers!), film nerd and legendary builder of Spotify playlists.
What are skills from your previous career that give you an advantage as a PR consultant?
My clearest advantage in legal PR is that I’m a lawyer. Not only do I have a familiarity with a lot of the sophisticated legal concepts my clients are engaging us on, but my time studying and practicing law taught me how to craft a narrative, anticipate challenges and deliver a message. Success in PR requires emotional intelligence, attention to detail, the ability to synthesize and simplify dense information and, last but not least, some hustle. These are all muscles I built up as a lawyer and have served me well in my PR career.