Bette Sinclair – PR Guru

Bette Sinclair is Portland’s PR guru. An Oregon native, Bette has provided public relations services to the hospitality and lifestyle industries here in town for more than 25 years. She has represented top restaurants, hotels, spas, retail stores, cooking schools and farmers markets.

What is your favorite thing about what you do?

There isn’t a favorite thing. Connecting people. Placing a story, it’s thrilling to see my client’s hard work ‘in print.’ I’ve been fortunate that my client list represents some of the top hospitality and lifestyle clients in Portland for the past 25 years. I have always loved what I do and feel honored to be able to do it. I’ve met so many talented, fantastic people.

Who inspires you the most?  

Years ago, Doug Schmick of McCormick & Schmick, gave me my first PR job. He was my mentor, a fine man with a good heart and a good instinct for business.  He always inspired me to do my best.  Bruce Carey from the Zefiro days … I’ve been lucky to work with him ever since. All my clients inspire me with their creativity and hard work – it is admirable and awesome. My sister, Meg, inspires me. She is the best, most generous person I know. The fear of failure inspires me. As a single working mother, I raised my son until he graduated from college (and then some!).  

What are some of your future plans with your business?

I have always had my own boutique agency.  At one time I represented many clients, and now I enjoy working with a handful of clients, providing consulting and publicity services. I had the opportunity to enlarge my firm many times over the years.  My preference has been hands-on, one-on-one relationships with my clients, and keeping everything manageable — in balance.  

If you had to give a piece of advice to anyone looking to go into PR or starting their own business, what would it be?  

You must genuinely like people, believe in and respect your client’s business, and want the best for them. It is not about you. You are a conduit; your job is to make your client’s (product, service, promotion) shine. Don’t lean on the media, don’t pressure or pester them; be of service to them.  Don’t forget to say, ‘thank you,’ and learn to love multi-tasking!

How are you involved in the community here in Portland?

My husband and I were founding board members of White; I’ve served on Sixteen Girls & a Guy, Inc., which helped launch Self Enhancement, Inc. years ago.  I do pro-bono work for Chef in My Garden. I support the hungry and homeless, AIDS research and treatment, and the arts.

Who/what has been your most memorable client or experience?

A few memories come to mind – the huge, fabulous media parties we used to throw at Jake’s (Jake’s Grill) and McCormick & Schmick back in the day; the spectacular media dinner at Bluehour when it opened in the Pearl; sharing lunch with chefs Andre Saulter, Alton Brown, Anthony Bourdain; meeting and talking with Stevie Wonder at a client’s private party.  PR for Tony & Tina’s wedding  – hysterical, brilliant, wonderful people/actors — and presently working for the Beaverton Farmers Market and getting to know the hard working farmers and growers.


What are some of your favorite places in Portland?

My career has been centered on hospitality.  I love to entertain; I love communing over a meal whether at home, or at one of my client’s wonderful restaurants. I guess you could say my go-to spot is Bluehour. Before that, it was Zefiro. I have been an art collector for 30 years. I love the Manuel Izquierdo sculpture in Pettygrove Park, and the sculpture court at the Portland Art Museum.  I love river walks along the Willamette River from the Sellwood Bridge to the Burnside Bridge, and love my own home and studio overlooking downtown Portland, with its gardens and terraces.  I live near downtown, so I frequently walk to appointments, stores and restaurants.  We are lucky to we have such a walkable city!

What are some important things you’ve learned while running your own business?  

Trust your instincts. Don’t gossip about your clients.  Thank everyone.  Give the media or the guest the best seat in the house.  Hire a GREAT bookkeeper, as well as interns and assistants who are more organized than you.  And, most of all, have fun! Do good work.  Be happy. Be grateful.

Sinclair Public Relations

Photo by Tim Sugden

About The Author: Jordan Hernandez

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