Q&A with Liza Batallones, Director

By Staff

Liza delivering a traffic report in a helicopter.
Liza during her Chopper 5 days in the 1990s.

Can you tell us about your background?

I came from a broadcast news background and started my career right out of San Francisco State as a reporter for KCBS Radio and KPIX TV. Around that time, I spent two years moonlighting as an assistant account coordinator at Landis! I eventually started reporting from Chopper 5, and that helicopter was my “office” for many years. I spent the next decade in the studio, where I shared many personal milestones with Bay Area viewers – my engagement, my first half-marathon, and three pregnancies. In many ways, I feel like I grew up on TV. I eventually transitioned to PR, working for Samaritan House before returning to Landis as a Director. Full circle!

Liza on the KPIX set with Frank Mallicoat, Michelle Griego and Julie Watts, 2017.
Liza on the KPIX set with Frank Mallicoat, Michelle Griego and Julie Watts, 2017.

What is your favorite PR campaign you’ve worked on?

During the pandemic, I consulted for Samaritan House. They supported hundreds of thousands of people facing food insecurity during the COVID shutdowns. This was when there were long lines at food distribution sites all over the country. I developed a campaign that landed national and local press for the organization. The exposure led to several major donations and corporate partnerships. Not only was that campaign successful from a PR metrics standpoint, but it was also immensely gratifying.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I love crafting stories and developing PR plans that I think will grab consistent media attention. A key part of that is interviewing various stakeholders to understand their company, product, or vision. I’m always curious about the “why.” I still get to ask those questions as part of my role in PR. Another favorite part of the job is our Landis in-person meetups. We know how to have a good time, and I value those connections.

What is your least favorite part of your job?

Monthly reports! Fortunately, I’ve only had minimal experience doing these. I have determined that monthly reports are not my strength, and I’m okay with that!

What is one thing you wish you would have known about a career in PR before entering the field?

I thought I had formed a thick skin working in broadcast news. As a woman on TV, you are under microscopic criticism from the public. The advent of social media made that scrutiny even more intense…and immediate. When I was on the air, I heard from faceless, anonymous social media critics. As a PR professional, you’re managing REAL relationships with clients and reporters. You will sometimes hear vocal criticisms or face rejection. It’s all part of the business. Over time, you learn how to cope with that dynamic and still deliver results.

Liza with the KPIX team in San Jose magazine with now SF Giants announce, Renel Brooks Moon and FOX2's Roberta Gonzales, 2003.
Liza with the KPIX team in San Jose magazine with now SF Giants announcer Renel Brooks Moon and FOX2’s Roberta Gonzales, 2003.

If you weren’t working at Landis, you would be…

I would be launching a business helping moms leverage their professional experience into rewarding careers after kids. If I weren’t doing that, I would be starting some other kind of business. I have an entrepreneurial itch.

What do you do in your spare time?

Lately, I’ve been spending my spare time driving kids to sports and chasing after our two dogs, Harry and Jackie. When I can, I love to take long walks listening to my favorite podcasts or Yacht Rock playlist. I’m currently following NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour and Crime Junkie. So good. I recently discovered Medtech Talk, which has been helpful for work. You’ll sometimes find me walking Sawyer Camp Trail (gorgeous!), Pulgas Ridge in San Carlos or Canada Road in Woodside. I love to travel. My favorite places are Kauai, Paris, London, and New York. Tokyo is next!

Liza channeling Paula Abdul during a college talent show.
Liza and her friends performing at a college talent show.

What are some fun or interesting facts about you?

I won a college talent show as a solo vocalist – I even had backup dancers! Think Paula Abdul, but with less grace. We did win, and I have the video to prove it. Hilarious but true.

I also had the scare of my life during my Chopper 5 days when we dropped 1000 feet over Rohnert Park. Thankfully, we were flying at 1600 feet and had room to spare. I was standing by for a live TV report when I suddenly felt my stomach in my throat. After my pilot regained control, I somehow pulled it together and continued with the show. I later learned about Vortex Ring State (VRS), which we experienced.