Christine Eastman is a public relations expert and a "car guy" - the combination of which makes her very valuable to the hot rodding and racing fraternity. Roger and I have met Christine on numerous occasions, while she was working to promote shows and car events throughout the Southern California area. PR people are often considered insincere and all too adept at spinning the facts, but Christine is the definition of sincere and absolutely all about the facts and not the fluff. She believes in what she is doing and is the owner of her own public relations firm - Eastman & Accomplices - specializing in motorsports and the car culture. Yes, of course, a PR person is supposed to show their clients in the best light possible and handle the media, but some of them go overboard in their hype and give the entire group a bad name. The hot rodding and racing world could learn some very valuable lessons from responsible PR people, like Christine. It isn't easy being a show promoter, racer, builder, aftermarket or automotive sports business owner. They need to be recognized and gain market share and sometimes that's not easy when the competition is so fierce - which is why promoting your team or product is critical to survival. You may not want to spend the money to have your own in-house publicist, but enlisting the help of a freelancer like Christine can do your business a whole lot of good for a whole lot less money - especially when you take into account all the benefits that you don't have to pay a freelancer.
Learning the business and making contacts that will help you isn't easy, but good PR people like Christine spend a lot of time and weekends doing what they love and making those important connections along the way. And that benefits you and your business. Those who ignore these promotion, sponsorship and marketing aspects of their business are most likely going to lose out to those competitors who understand the importance of public relations and make the effort to reach out to the public. She graduated from the University of California at Riverside, earning a degree in business and then going to work for an environmental firm. After deciding she was destined for Hollywood (ah, the dreams of the misguided), she went to work for entertainment mogul Haim Saban of Saban Entertainment, creator of The Mighty Power Rangers and The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles television series. "(Haim) Saban taught me a lot about PR and the business world in general," she told me. Her internal track record at the company led to her being recruited to help relaunch the ailing Family Channel into the Fox Family Channel (which you all know now as ABC Family).
In the meantime, she had married Corey Eastman and this affected her life. Corey was a true hot rodder and lover of motorsports. He and his family members have been involved in boats, planes, hot rodding, drag racing, motorcycles, Bonneville and El Mirage land speed racing as fans and participants. Corey would certainly have an impact on his new bride, who grew up hanging out in the garage with her dad and riding more than one Big Wheel into the ground. Christine started doing car things like hanging out at the Donut Shop in Huntington Beach and auto-crossing her Miata at Irvine Meadows. She immediately fell in love with the power, skill and speed of racing. She was good at it too and held her own against Corey and the others. "I have to say it because he usually 'forgets' this part of the story - I beat my husband's lap time on my very first run." She adds with a smile, "I've always been pretty sure I was destined to be a race car driver, but this silly job stuff keeps getting in the way."
Meanwhile, Christine was growing tired of the constant 3-hour-a-day commute, despicable pay, egomaniacs and lack of anything with horsepower and decided a change was in order. To be closer to home, she went to work for RiechesBaird Advertising in Irvine, California, where she was an integral part of building the PR department, which at the time was a bit of a departure in a traditional advertising agency. "I'm not totally sure how my being a PR person really happened to be honest," she chuckles, "especially since I started out studying to be a television reporter. But maybe that's part of my success factor - I know how to create a story from a journalist's point-of-view."
After just a year, Christine was recruited away from RiechesBaird to work for The Benjamin Group, which became BSMG Worldwide, and worked on the Toshiba account. The Benjamin Group was a traditional PR agency, and they are very serious about their business. She stayed with them for another year, and then one day had a "light bulb moment" as she calls it. "I realized that I could combine my skills and my love of all things horsepower, so I went looking for agencies that handled automotive clients." She struck gold when hearing that Team One, Saatchi & Saatchi's division that was created solely to serve the Lexus account, was looking for a consumer PR person to work within the ad agency. She says, "I thought to myself, hey, I've done that before, so I told them I was the perfect person for the job - and they listened!" Christine had gained a lot of experience and as having a lot of fun talking shop all day at her new gig, but she would again make a drastic change - one that would allow her to spend more time with Corey and adjust her hours to a more flexible schedule. The death of her father, followed the next month by the terrorist attack in New York and Washington on 9/11 was a turning point for her. Thanks to Corey's support, she decided to open up her own PR agency and to take on more of the kind of motorsports work that was interesting to her. She also wanted to be her own boss and control her destiny. She was ready to challenge the world of PR and 'Eastman & Accomplices' was born, with Corey as her partner. By day, Corey is the Marketing Director at Cycle World, the world's largest motorcycle magazine with 325,000 copies printed monthly and by night, he is as much a part of the creative force of the agency as Christine is.
So, flash forward 8 years and Eastman & Accomplices is still tearin' it up, with 5 or so clients at any given time…most of them motorsports-oriented, with the occasional entertainment project as well (just enough to satisfy her Hollywood cravings, she says). Future plans? "I haven't given up on that race car dream…I've got a brand new Mini Cooper 'S' staring at me all day long through my office window, just waiting for me to renew my SCCA card and get that extra set of tires!" So what else is Christine into when she's not working you ask? "Basically anything with horsepower, literally. I grew up on horses and still obsess about them to this day - I'm actually taking up reining and barrel racing this year. I also love my Yamaha TTR125, our Manx style dune buggy, Model A Roadster that we're building with Corey's dad, tearing up twisty back roads in the Mini…we're pretty much all horsepower all the time here at E&A." Some of their other clients are and/or have included the famous SO-CAL Speed Shop, the Grand National Roadster Show, the inaugural California Bike Week, the Love Ride, Family Classic Cars, Honda and Toyota dealerships, the Cartoon Network, Cobra Engineering and Spectre Performance to name a few. Christine told us that her business is flexible and she can expand and call on more of her 'accomplices' to help as need be, so she says "bring it on!" Christine Eastman can be reached at email@example.com or 949-481-5561.
Gone Racin' is at RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM