Cheryl van Landingham Smithem is the Connection Maven. Over the course of her 33 year career as an executive in Charleston, she has directed the marketing, public relations and communications of businesses and non-profit organizations.
As the Executive Director of the Charleston Area Arts Council she witnessed the growth of the arts in Charleston and led the first strategic planning process in the Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester area for the arts industry. Transitioning into the public sector, she led the Business Development and communications functions for Maverick Southern Kitchens, owners of the famed restaurant SNOB. During her tenure there she assisted in the development of High Cotton and designed and implemented the group’s loyalty marketing program, Maverick Collection.
Leaving Maverick Southern Kitchens in 2001, Cheryl established Strategic Marketing & Charleston PR to provide consultation to a wide variety of industries. In 2002 Cheryl returned to the field of non-profit communications as Director of Public Relations for Charleston’s renowned continuing care retirement community, Bishop Gadsden. In 20005 she was recruited to Cognetix Advertising & Marketing where she was Account Supervisor of the firm’s homebuilding and other accounts. In 2007 she was recruited to Summerville Homes as Vice President of Marketing and Sales.
In 2008 Cheryl resumed consulting with her firm SM&PR and in May 2009 she and her husband and business partner Bill Smithem launched CBS Web Designs. In June 2011, Cheryl and Bill incorporated and formed Charleston PR & Design, LLC, merging the firms into this new entity.
Cheryl is a community leader, serving on the advisory boards of the national online publication The Music Initiative, Carolina Studios and The Social Media, Club Charleston. In addition, she serves as a member of the Strategic Posse for Parliament, a creative industries economic development taskforce under the aegis of the Charleston Regional Development Alliance and New Carolina.
Cheryl is the instigator, who in 2009, initiated discussions that led to the development of Charleston’s Restaurant Week and South Carolina’s Restaurant Week.
Cheryl is currently a contributor to About.com’s Food and Beverage channel where her articles focus on marketing for new food and beverage consumer packaged. Her posts on marketing, website development, strategic planning, public relations, and social media can be read on The Connection Maven Writes.
Charleston PR & Design is a member of Lowcountry Local First, and The Center for Women.
As a speaker, Cheryl is frequently invited to share knowledge with others and has made presentations to the Charleston WordPress Users Group, The Center for Women, The American Business Women’s Association Jessamine Chapter, The National Association of Women Business Owners (Columbia and Charleston), Summerville Chamber of Commerce, Charleston’s BarCamp Un-conference to name a few.
As a naturally curious person, Cheryl remembers while riding in a wagon being pulled by other kindergartners, she wondered what dragging her knuckles along the ground would feel like… a mistake she won’t make again. However, her curiosity remains the driving force of her work as she devises strategy to set the client’s business apart in all aspects of their marketing communications.
Success for clients and journalists
Hired to increase awareness and the number of customers for Crave Kitchen & Cocktails in 2009, Chris and Cara Dolan and Rebecca Gooden of Crave, said of firm’s work,
We feel that you have done a wonderful job. Your work has increased awareness of our restaurant and contributed to our businesses growth. We’ve had more response from the things that you’ve done than all our past advertising.”
Journalist Patricia Luebke wrote of one of Smithem’s query responses,
I get so many of ‘Oh, you absolutely must interview so and so and I can arrange it’ and I have no idea if it’s worth my time, or given the responses like yours I get I don’t need to go on a fishing expedition for more interviews. So if no one has told you today you’re doing a good job, I will. Good job!”
Cheryl is energized by the ability to use the Internet to connect to so many people through social media and can be found Tweeting at @ConnectionMaven, on Skype at cheryl.smithem, on Facebook, on Linkedin, and on Google+.