Member Spotlight: Elena Difiore

Elena Difiore, CPSM

Communications Director

CGL Companies

Number of Years in the AEC Industry:

How has SMPS membership been of value to you and your career?
Through my involvement with SMPS, I've gained the knowledge and resources to help propel important marketing initiatives in my firm. Learning from the experiences and success of fellow SMPS members, particularly when it comes to communicating with company leadership in terms of value and ROI, has been invaluable.

How did you get started with your career?
I began my career in the A/E/C industry as an internal communications manager.

What excites you about your work and the contribution you make?
What excites me the most about what I do is the ability to show our internal leadership the immense impact marketing can have on not only our external audience, but most importantly, our internal stakeholders. Creating and molding a brand that your internal staff not only supports but proudly projects to clients and partners, is the best ROI you can hope for.

What helpful tip(s) can you share with your fellow SMPS members?
Never stop learning. No matter how crazy work and personal life can get, always make it a point to prioritize your professional development. Professional organizations like SMPS are a great place to start, but don't stop there - listen to educational podcasts, research the top professional development books (or audio books for extra convenience). There are so many easily accessible, and FREE, educational resources available today.

What is the best communications/marketing advice you've ever received?
The best marketing and communications advice I've ever received is two-fold: No. 1 = "It's no longer 'digital marketing' it's just 'marketing.'" We need to let go of the notion that there are any differences between the two. Services are becoming more and more commoditized every day, and so are the ways in which they're marketed. And; No. 2 = "Stop thinking of your clients in terms of B2B, and start thinking B2C." Many firms specializing in B2B services fail to understand that even though you may consider a business or organization to be your sales target, it's actually the individuals in those organizations that are ultimately making the decision to buy your services. People like me and you, with real emotions and buying patterns. They want to know that your service will not only help their company, but also help them do their job better and look better to their bosses and clients - so show them how you can help. Whether we're looking to buy the latest tech gadget or find an expert niche architect, we're all looking for guidance and a solution that addresses our needs and assuages our fears. In the end, we're all just consumers.

Pretend you're a CEO. What three concerns about the firm's future keep you up at night?
1. Feeding the pipeline; 2. Hiring & retaining young talent; 3. Strategic partnerships.

What's your favorite moment of your career so far?
I'm not sure if I have a 'favorite' moment so far, but I was very pleased with the recent roll-out of our new company website and introduction of our new 360 Justice branding platform. As a firm, we had struggled for a long time to reach an internal consensus on our external messaging and branding of services. We are a criminal justice consulting firm specializing in facility planning, design, maintenance/management, and operations. Externally, we needed to find a way to showcase all of our capabilities in a way that was easily understandable to the client and clearly conveyed the advantages of partnering with a team comprised of the best planning and architectural minds in justice as well as the top operations specialists. Internally, we needed to identify a way to best market our strengths and capabilities without prioritizing one service above another. The final result was 360 Justice - an integrated, informed approach to justice facility development and operations. We unveiled the new brand and a brand new website (, which puts the needs of the visitor/client first, taking the attention away from any internal silo struggles and uniting the team in the common mission of helping our clients.

What was your childhood dream job?
I always thought I wanted to be a veterinarian growing up, but quickly realized I didn't have the grit to see that many sick pups on a daily basis.

What was your most uncomfortable work place scenario and how did you solve it?
One particular moment doesn't come to mind...but in most scenarios, I feel that open, honest communication can go a long way in resolving workplace issues. Also, it helps to remember you can't control others or how they will react to certain things. Do what you can to control yourself and your emotions and let others make their own beds.

What are you currently watching on Netflix?
I watch a lot on Netflix, but one show that's constantly on rotation is The Office - it just can't be topped.

If you could visit anywhere in the world you have never been, where would you go?
Sicily - where my father's family is from. Planning on going for our honeymoon May :) (2020).

Do you have a secret talent? What is it?
Not sure if it counts as a talent, and probably not so "secret," but I can burp on command. Something my fiancé is quite proud of. So there's that....

What was your first real job?
My first real job was as a hostess at a cajun food restaurant named VooDoo Daddy's in Arizona.

What is your favorite family tradition?
Gathering for menudo and tamales on Christmas Eve at my aunt and uncle's in Phoenix, AZ.

What was the best concert you've ever attended?
Easy - Garth Brooks live in Vegas. He's amazing and the venue was so small and intimate - felt like you were sitting in his living room.

If you could learn anything, what would it be?
Another language - maybe Italian. Or just to perfect my Spanish, which has gotten a little rusty lately.

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