Meet your IPC

Sydney Sallabanks

By Shea Andersen

If you’ve noticed the new, snappier Idaho Press Club logo recently, or taken a gander at the club’s refurbished Web site, you’ll see the fingerprints of Sydney Sallabanks all over them.

Sallabanks, 41, joined the state board last year, and has wasted no time leaving a mark on the club. The Boise-based public-relations professional has brought a new level of energy to the club, and to the Southwest Chapter in particular.
With the ever-chatty Sallabanks hustling things along, the Southwest Chapter has been busily organizing public events, forums and get-togethers that make that group the most active of any in the state. Whether it’s ferreting out a new location for an unheard-of social event or rustling up participants to fill out a debate panel, Sallabanks has lent a high-paced but convivial professionalism to the group.
Sallabanks recently had to weigh the options before her about her own career. She’d been representing the University of Idaho since 2001, adopting the school as her own, even though she herself attended the University of Oregon’s journalism school.

“[The University of Idaho] is such a great university,” Sallabanks said. “It didn’t take long to become an ambassador for it. For such a small school, it’s amazing what they’re doing. “

Which helped her to develop her own credo for public relations work: “If you don’t believe in a project or a client, then it isn’t worth it.”

That ideal made a job offer from the Gallatin Group, a Boise public-relations and issues management firm, seem at once tantalizing and challenging. She worried what it might be like to work for a company that paid attention to the bottom line as well as the integrity and interests of its client list.

She also spent time talking it over with her husband, Rex, and together they considered the impact it might have upon their life with their 13-year-old daughter Chloe. A constellation of life issues came into play. Would she be able to ride her mountain bike as much, something she does a lot in the summer?
After lots of soul-searching, Sallabanks took the plunge. She started as one of the company’s newer principals in late January.

First things first: the workload, she has found, is “huge. It’s enormous.”
The client list, yes, is diverse. But Sallabanks has been pleased to encounter a vigorous discussion-sometimes, debate-over just what clients the company should or shouldn’t take.

In that regard, she says, it’s been a return to journalism-like work: investigating people’s backgrounds to make an informed decision.

“You have to do a lot of investigating,” Sallabanks said. “We Google the hell out of people before we take them on as clients.” Ultimately, she said, not all clients are accepted.

That collegiate atmosphere has helped make the move worth it. Yes, she is working harder. But, instead of connecting remotely to a distant campus in Moscow, Sallabanks is now in and out of the offices up and down the hall, talking with colleagues like former Gov. Cecil Andrus, who also keeps an office at the Gallatin Group.

“It sounds really cliché, but it really is like a family,” she said. “There’s such teamwork.”