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Never a Dull Moment for Winchester’s Laci Warden

Never a Dull Moment for Winchester’s Laci Warden

“Three years ago if someone would have told me that I’d be in this industry, shooting, hunting AND that I’d love it, I would have thought they were crazy,” says Laci Warden, Media Relations Specialist at Winchester Ammunition.

And now not only does she hunt and loves it, she gets to arrange hunting trips all over the world for the biggest and the best in the industry. Oh, and she also gets to go on many of those trips. So how on earth does someone score a sweet job like this? Here’s Laci’s story.

In college, Laci majored in marketing and PR at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She even created her own graduate program in PR, organizational and corporate communication, not an easy task. She was a grad assistant in the Career Development Center, then was hired full time after graduation as a career counselor, which included teaching career planning classes. “I taught more of a training curriculum, to be more like the corporate world,” she explains.  “Interviews, writing resumes, doing presentations. Getting students to understand that in the real world you can’t be late with assignments, things like that.”

Then she went to work for Winchester Ammunition. “I had no shooting or hunting background when I applied, but that seemed to be part of my appeal as a potential employee,” she laughs. She grew up in a big hunting family; her dad and brothers are hunters. “I love to fish, but hunting was never a ‘girl thing’ so I’d never done it,” she explains. “I thought the biggest challenge would be coming into this industry as a female who never shot or hunted. It was totally foreign to me and totally out of my comfort zone, but that was the biggest part of why I wanted to be here. It would be a challenge and something I could really succeed in. I could learn anything I set my mind to, I know PR and event planning and I knew I could do this. It has been amazing both personally and professionally. And I’m kind of mad I didn’t know hunting was so much fun a long time ago!”

“There’s never a dull moment,” she laughs. One week she could be on a hunt, the next she could be sitting at the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation banquet with senators, congressmen and other influential people in the industry. “’Holy buckets,’ I thought. ‘How did this happen?’” she laughs.

Laci appreciates the relationships she has made. He first media adventure was a turkey hunt in Texas. She was sitting with the one of the editors at Outdoor Life and started thinking, “These are the people writing the stories my dad and brother read. They are so down to earth and always willing to lend a helping hand. It’s more like a family and the most cherished part of my job. I’m so thankful I have the opportunity to interact with such amazing people on a regular basis.”

Laci gets to have all kinds of fun on her job. This year she is managing around 15 ‘media hunts’ and gets to participate in several of them as well. Media hunts are where she sets up hunts from start to finish, using Winchester products, for top publishing groups, partners and sponsors.

She also attends events such as the NRA meetings and SHOT Show. Connecting with key people is her specialty and that’s how she met Julianna Crowder of A Girl and A Gun Women’s Shooting League. “We were coming out with Winchester Train and Defense ammo, which is geared not only to new shooters but more specifically women shooters. It’s a product that’s easy to understand. You train with the Train (T) and defend with the Defend (D). They feel exactly the same, so you have more confidence in your shooting abilities.” They talked via conference call and immediately hit it off. “We try to support A Girl and A Gun and other key women’s groups as much as possible. They’re the ones ‘in the trenches’ and being able to have that relationship and that endorsement is very important to us,” Laci explains.

Laci says she has worked hard to make sure she is perceived well. “I want to be seen as an expert in this field and will go to great lengths in order to make that happen. Respect isn’t just given. You have to earn it. I want people to know that I go above and beyond and will bend over backwards to do what I need to do. It’s the way I was raised. Now I have the reputation that people know if I’m contacting them, I typically have something incredible going on,” she smiles.

Laci further explains why she loves what she does. “I’ve really enjoyed and been embraced by the industry and by Winchester. I’m usually only one of two women in a meeting at work, but it’s never been a problem. I don’t even think about it much anymore. I’ve always been comfortable in my own skin and determined to succeed in my role. Many people actually treat me more like a little sister. It’s endearing to know that no matter what, I have a team, both internally and externally, and they always have my back. We work well together.”

Laci does get a kick sometimes out of the perception of women in the industry. “I’ll be rocking the stiletto heels, and people will ask me, ‘What do you do?’ and when I tell them what my job is, the look on their face cracks me up. You would think I have three heads, but it’s been great for several laughs and some great stories. I know people who dread their job, but I get to wake up each and every morning, excited for my job. It’s a great feeling.”

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