New Business
Natasha Bourlin's Passport Public Relations
Published in the May 2012 RTT

  Natasha Bourlin

More than mere press release mills, good PR firms establish and build relationships around message conveyance and communication between their clients, customers and the public at large, through mass media placements across diverse channels.

For dynamos like Natasha Bourlin, the effervescent engine behind Passport PR, her skill sets have equipped her well for her chosen profession. A first-generation American and native Nevadan with a degree in International Relations, Bourlin honed her public and media relation skills working with several major art and extreme sport events. “I then spent several years managing, coordinating and strategizing the media outreach, client relations, press trips, plus digital and social media for a multitude of travel and technology accounts as a contractor for Napa-based Lyman Public Relations, as well as contracting for Abbi PR in Reno,” Bourlin notes.

A gifted ideator and intuitive problem solver, Bourlin does her homework, grounding her strategies and modules around solid market and media research. But it’s her keen ear and listening abilities that make her mighty, allowing her to tune in and tap her vast, hard-earned media relationships to pinpoint, position and place her client’s message effectively. Her results speak volumes, with Bourlin capturing coverage in a wide variety of media outlets, securing client placements and features on ABC News and in Alaska Airlines Magazine,, The Boston Globe, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Food & Wine Magazine, ForbesLife, Los Angeles Times, MSNBC, New York Times, Northern Nevada Business Weekly,, Reno Magazine, The Sacramento Bee, The San Francisco Chronicle, Southwest Spirit Magazine, Sunset Magazine, Tahoe Quarterly Magazine, Westways Magazine, among many others.

I spoke to Bourlin at her office to get the rundown on her vision for her new company Passport PR.

Reno Tahoe Tonight: You've worked for respected industry titans like Lyman PR and Abbi PR. What do you feel were some of your core takeaways from those professional experiences?

Natasha Bourlin: I have truly had the best mentors possible along my career path, as well as the opportunity to work with other individuals in the industry that I respect and admire enormously. The chance to work with tremendous clients of national and international caliber (Mammoth Mountain, Catalina Island, Squaw Valley, a Costa Rican retreat, Michelin Star - and those that should’ve been, in my opinion – restaurants in Napa and Tahoe, among many, many others) was truly like getting a Masters Degree in PR also. I learned that this business is about relationships at its core, and that a PR-specific education will surely behoove the PR professional, but it’s more about personality, people skills, diligence and patience than formal training. My degree is in International Relations, very helpful in what I do day to day as I studied to be a U.N. diplomat, but I did not go through PR or journalism school nor did I end up working for the U.N. (by choice). Weird how life works at times…

Reno Tahoe Tonight: Technological means, modalities and solution strategies change so rapidly in your business. What PR fundamentals do you feel will always be evergreen?

Natasha Bourlin: Respect for the journalists. They have an incredibly tough job, and often one that would’ve been spread among several people in the “glory days.” Be considerate of their time, do your research and understand their beat, and know how and when they like to receive info and pitches (they work on deadline!!). Listening skills and the ability to take a lengthy and often technical story and turn it into a succinct message.

Reno Tahoe Tonight: How will Passport PR distinguish itself in a notoriously nepotistic and extremely competitive market environment?

Natasha Bourlin: I have spent decades in this town. I’m a native Nevadan, actually, from Vegas originally – and [have] seen its many social and economic phases, plus had the opportunity to meet and retain friendships with many amazing people…plenty of whom are like me and still call this home. It’s all about connections and networking to be able to serve your clients best. Being a decent writer-editor, spotting a good client story, prompt responses and being diligent in pursuing a story with the correct writers, bloggers or producers certainly helps too.

Reno Tahoe Tonight: As you position regional clients in national media, what stereotypes about Reno have you had to encounter or correct in order to earn placement?

Natasha Bourlin: A common assumption by those in the media and otherwise has always been that we’re just a hop, skip and jump from Las Vegas; [they] are shocked when they realize how far we actually are (big state, folks!). They also perceive us as a bustling, neon-laden town solely based upon our gambling industry, when in reality we’re one of the most outdoorsy, active, beautiful and diverse regions in the country--that is indeed a bit quirky culturally. But I find that quirkiness endearing, and don’t think we actually embrace it enough. There is a passion for this community, within this community, that runs deep and keeps even those folks, like myself, that relocate or travel the globe returning to the Truckee Meadows. I toured a gentleman from the Los Angeles Times through town last year and he was absolutely flabbergasted by the changes since he’d been here last.

Reno Tahoe Tonight: Taking the pulse of the media and business environment, what companies do you see making right moves and really innovating with their brand exposition and marketing message?

Natasha Bourlin: I truly loved Larry DeVincenzi’s “Reno’s Looking Up” campaign for CommRow, though there unfortunately wasn’t much opportunity to get it out there for a variety of reasons. The Abbi Agency has done a brilliant job representing their clients, such as Campo--another prime example of making all the right moves--therefore establishing their brand strongly. Pie Face has embraced our town’s previously mentioned quirkiness and is now a hot spot. The MidTown district is booming, largely due to amazing branding efforts. We’ve got some tremendous talent and vision in our town, seeing it flourish is truly inspiring.

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