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Leadership Series: Tori Terhune

Posted At: October 14, 2013 2:45 p.m.
by Karly Weigel

Not all writers are born with an innate passion for writing. For Tori Terhune, it was not until she explored journalism in college at California State University, Fresno, that she realized she loved to write. While at CSU Fresno, she co-founded and launched a student-operated public relations firm called TALK PR.

During her senior year, she was awarded Rookie of the Year by the Central California Chapter of The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) for her work with TALK PR. She was also acknowledged as the most outstanding public relations graduate in the journalism department. Her success and hard work landed Terhune a dream job before graduation and now she resides in San Francisco.

Currently, Terhune is the CEO of Brand Chicks, an all-female team that helps build individual and company success with their brands. Brand Chicks has enjoyed early success since its launch in July. Clients range from marketing firms seeking assistance with social media to start-up websites and local businesses.

The staff all live in California and travel across the state frequently. The firm is composed of authors, speakers and public relations consultants. To begin the process, individuals or companies can go online and fill out a free brand assessment to evaluate strengths and weaknesses. Brand Chicks offers personal brand counseling, social media management programs, media and blogger relations and many other services.

Brand Chicks functions as a virtual firm and allows the staff flexibility to be out of town or work on new books. Each woman has her own dreams, and Brand Chicks allows for bills to be paid and dreams to continue. The firm also empowers women and allows for successful women to be involved in multiple things.

Creating Brand Chicks has given Terhune an abundance of opportunities. Interestingly, she has not been limited by being a woman and has instead been enabled. Being young, she says, has presented many challenges and stigmas to overcome.

Terhune is also an up-and-coming author and attributes her desire to write as a way to continue the personal growth she experienced in college.

“When I graduated from college I knew I wanted more than the 9-to-5 job,” Terhune said. “I sat down to really think about what I wanted to do to continue the momentum I’d started for myself in college, and decided that writing a book would help me build my career to where I wanted it to be.”

The first book, “Land Your Dream Career: 11 Steps to Take in College,” was written by Terhune and a college professor, Betsy Hays. The book is chock-full of tips for students to make the most of their college experience and land a job before graduation. Personal stories divulge what not to do and what to do in many academic settings. A second book is in the works and the first draft of the manuscript has been completed. Terhune has plans to publish a novel loosely based on her early life as a cheerleading coach before becoming an author and speaker.

Terhune has enjoyed an avid fan base that continues to support her and her writing via Twitter. She recounts one particular reader “loved our book so much that she started a conversation with both my co-author and I, and then reviewed our book on Amazon and continues to let us know when she uses tips from the book,” Terhune said. 

With success comes hardship, and Terhune struggled to find a publisher. After three years, and extreme testing of her patience, Terhune found a publisher and the rest (and the success) is history.

When Terhune is able to step away from the computer screen, she enjoys coaching cheerleading part time with K-12th grade children. She also takes flying lessons and loves to fly planes. After her first flight (and safe landing), Terhune’s boyfriend at the time, now husband, proposed later that day. Aside from flying, she also loves to read and believes reading is key to a great vocabulary and improved personal writing style.

She has begun traveling and presenting since she has been published. Her topics include social media and personal brand or reputation management. Her audiences are typically made up of college students or women’s groups. The first large conference she spoke at was the Central California Women’s Conference.

Terhune enjoys helping others learn about things they may have never thought about while making her own personal connections.

“My favorite part of traveling and speaking is meeting people I may not have met otherwise,” Terhune said. “Every time I speak to a group I walk out with at least three new solid connections that helps to build my network.”

Terhune offers a piece of advice for young college students who are seeking employment. She believes students need to clean up their digital reputations on many of the social platforms they use.

“Many students don’t think it is important to be online or have a professional social presence, but it is so important when you set out in the post-college world,” Terhune said. “Companies and recruiters will use social media to learn more about you, and you want to put your best foot forward online.”

Terhune advises students to make sure your digital first impression is just as impressive as your in-person first impression.

Terhune is always looking ahead and working to grow. In five to 10 years, she would like to have at least five more books published, including the novel she is presently working on. She would like to travel and speak, along with writing more often. Ideally, she would like to be known more as a speaker and author than a CEO or consultant. As a long-term goal, she would like to see Brand Chicks host a personal branding conference.

In one sentence, Terhune describes herself as, “an ambitious 26-year-old author, speaker and entrepreneur who continuously looks for ways to further my career and the careers of those around me.”

Readers can connect with Tori Terhune on Twitter @ToriRTerhune.


  1. Post comment

    I like that Tori Terhune is doing what she loves as work and making money while doing it and also still having the time to do different hobbies. I think that Terhune is inspiring because she shows that doing what you love doesn’t have to be a tiring 9-to-5 job. I was worried that I would have to get a boring desk job after college but this article shows me that there are more options, and sometimes even creating something new to fit me is not always a bad thing.


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