Ashton McLeod

Ashton McLeod

Account Supervisor, The James Collective

Ashton is based in New York, and she is originally from Ocala, Florida.
Instagram: @mcleod_ashton
Twitter: @ashtonmcleod
The James Collective Instagram: @thejamescollective

  • How did you get started in communications?

I began my career at the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach & New York Wine & Food Festival. During my senior year of college, I acted as the national recruiter to secure speaking engagements at University of Florida. I interviewed the founder of both festivals for the UF chapter of Public Relations Student Society of America, PRSSA. Two weeks later, I was working the media check-in desk with his team in South Beach.

  • How did you find yourself where you are now?

I’ve worked in the food and beverage space my entire career. I’ve directed communications in-house for restaurant groups, worked on the agency side for hospitality clients, and produced events for food festivals.
I joined The James Collective in 2016 to apply my previous knowledge to lifestyle brands nationwide. It’s a small team, and I wanted to jump in headfirst and gain exposure to likeminded clients.

  • What does your company do and what is your role within it?

The James Collective is an integrated communications agency that leads PR, partnerships and marketing for “products and properties” that intersect in food, beverage, travel and design. My role is to work as an external extension of our client partners to tell their stories to the media, resulting in growth in awareness and sales.

  • What are you currently working on?

I’m in the holiday season already for my clients!
Seriously though, my schedule varies from day to day. A typical week could include: having Carson Daly make beer at a Brooklyn brewery for the Today Show, launching a Spanish beef to the United States market, organizing a press trip for journalists to hand harvest sea salt on the Oregon coast, and hosting social media influencers and media in a two-level hotel suite overlooking Central Park.

  • What is a recent success you're particularly proud of?

I am launching a Spanish beef product, similar to jamon, to the United States for the first time. I’m proud of the recent coverage it has received, as well as the overall enthusiasm from media outlets like Food & Wine.

  • What is most important in your work?

Relationships are hands down the most important part of my career. Another key is to think outside of the box to identify relevant and newsworthy angles for the media. Recently, we discovered that mustard was the secret ingredient for cocktails and baked goods. Who knew!

  • How would you say the media landscape has changed since the beginning of your career?

A much larger focus is on digital media versus print, and video content is higher than ever. Also, the social media influencer component is a large priority now.  It’s important to adapt and be nimble with the ever-changing media landscape!

  • Where are your favorite places for business meetings or drinks with writers/clients?

I do a lot of coffee and drink meet ups to get to know writers better. I'm a big fan of Kaffe 1668 for coffee and love checking out hotel bars for drinks. Some include: Public Hotel, Ace Hotel, Standard East Village garden area (summer) and 11 Howard

  • Working in communications can be fast-paced and stressful, what is your favorite way of relaxing?

I love to walk to Union Square Greenmarket and then cook a meal with the fresh ingredients. Yoga and swimming are my decompressing go-tos as well.

  • What are you reading these days?

“Exit West” by Mohsin Hamid and “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara

  • What are you listening on repeat these days?

I’m more into podcasts than music. Some of my favorite are BBC Global news podcast, This American Life, Serial, New York Times The Daily, Literary Disco, New Yorker: Fiction

  • What is the next event you're the most looking forward in the next months?

I’m thrilled to be a part of exposing people to lesser-known areas. We are partnering with the Oregon tourism board to show journalists the “undiscovered Oregon Coast” and also putting West Harlem on the map.

Eleanor Macnair

Andrea Smith