Other Pelletier spins skating into public relations

Former U.S. competitor stays fearless in front of big audiences

David Pelletier uses the same strategies in public relations that he did in skating.
David Pelletier uses the same strategies in public relations that he did in skating. (courtesy of Pelletier)


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By Lois Elfman, special to
(07/03/2013) - He may have the same name as an Olympic gold medalist, but former U.S. pairs competitor David Pelletier has created his own distinct identity in and out of the sport.

While still maintaining ties to skating -- coaching an Austrian pairs team to the 2012 European and world championships -- Pelletier has built a career in public relations. Based in Berlin, he is international director for piâbo, developing the company's international client base and building up an international team to handle corporate PR as well as traditional and new media services.

"Skating allowed me to see the world, understand different cultures and, in a sense, test out living in different places," said Pelletier, 30, who competed on the Junior Grand Prix circuit and at the world junior championships with Andrea Varraux. "By the end of my skating career, I had seen much of Europe, felt like I belonged there and made many close friends in Switzerland and Germany."

After his partnership with Varraux ended, he moved to Lugano, Switzerland. He studied international management, marketing and German at Franklin College Switzerland, a small private university, becoming fluent in German and Italian.

Pelletier's job involves taking products and services and building brand awareness.

"What is unique about piâbo is, we find innovative ways to create content that is valuable for journalists and others," Pelletier said. "Through European and global relations, I have to understand different cultures and the way that you have to portray a story or approach an audience. It is always important to know how to communicate a product, use the right marketing and branding tools, and understand key business strategies in different markets."

With piâbo, Pelletier often speaks at conferences and other events with the company's founder, Tilo Bonow.

"When I get on stage and the lights go on, this is where skating factors in," Pelletier said. "There have also been recent events in which I was asked to be one of the onstage hosts, presenting and moderating the dialogue between startup companies and top investors.

"Every time that I have the opportunity to present or host, I always have to laugh because when the lights and music go on, the adrenaline rushes and the visions that go through my head are similar to what I had before a skating show or competition. The only thing missing are the flashy costumes."

He might only occasionally wear spandex these days (skating in shows for Jennifer Weiss' Spotlight Productions), but Pelletier said he always wants skating to be a part of his life. He coached throughout his time at university and still does part time.

"I would still love to do some shows but need to find the time and opportunities," he said.

He found coaching an Austrian pairs team a big eye opener.

"You learn how different federations, skaters, training methods and even cultures affect athletes and coaches throughout the world," Pelletier said. "It was incredible to be able to step back into a high level of competition -- on the other side of the boards -- and it was especially meaningful that I had the opportunity to share both Europeans and worlds with two of my coaches, Priscilla Hill and Ron Ludington, who also had students competing."

Right now, Pelletier is enjoying life in Berlin, a city that fuels his love of history as he explores different neighborhoods. He regularly keeps in contact with friends from skating.

"Social media keeps me informed of what's new in the skating world and has helped me stay in contact with many of the skaters that I traveled or worked with through the years," said Pelletier, who especially enjoyed a recent Facebook exchange with JoJo Starbuck, with whom he worked when he was young. "It's situations like this that make me enjoy social media on a personal level."