Vice President, Public Affairs
What do you wish you had known before starting your career in PR?
“I wish I had known that places like Edelman and other agencies existed. I had no idea when I got into communications that you could do this full time. I didn’t even know I wanted to get into communications. I was really involved in politics. That’s what I was obsessed with. I did a lot of political campaigns. I worked on a political action committee and I worked on Capitol Hill. From doing campaigns you have to be a jack of all trades, which I think that people who work for agencies have to be as well. From setting up events and interacting with media to doing legislative duties for people working in office, you really become very well-rounded in your skillset. I wish I knew how important creative design was before working in this industry, because it’s so important. The last thing you want to have to do is ask someone else or rely on creative services when you [yourself] can just as easily find out how to use design tools on your own. So, if I knew what the larger scope of communications was and the opportunities that were out there, I might have worked hard to learn skills to be better at what I’m doing now.”
What are some ideas that you have to revolutionize the PR industry?
“I didn’t get into this to revolutionize anything; I do it, because I like the challenge of it. A lot of agencies spend so much time and money wondering things like, ‘What is PR? What does it mean? Are we creative marketing? Are we marketing creative? Is PR still relevant? Or is it all about public engagement instead of public relations?’ These conversations are happening a lot of the time. There’s a lot of wordsmithing. But I feel like when we’re spending so much time and resources focusing on that, we’re forgetting the most important thing and that’s client service. At the end of the day, our industry can get too big picture for our own good. So, I don’t want to revolutionize anything. Just be better at what we do and the services we provide.”
What personality characteristics are most important to be successful in PR?
“First and foremost, you have to be patient. You interact with so many people running around with their heads on fire, a gamut of people. If you can be patient, be that safe harbor, and be the voice of reason, not only will clients look at you as a leader, but so will the people who you work with. That especially important when you’re working at an agency where working with four or five clients at the same time and you’ve got all of these requests coming in. You just have to be patient and things will play out. I think the second biggest thing is just be nice. You’re going to make mistakes; everybody makes mistakes, but instead of focusing on that mistake or making someone feel bad about it, lift that person up. Help them figure out how to avoid the same mistake in the future. If you’re nice, people will treat you nicely. Just be calm, be patient, and be nice. Someone once told me ‘It’s PR not the E.R.’”
How do you handle stress and pressure?
“I think you need to understand that in this line of work, it just comes with the territory. You can’t treat it as stress and pressure I think. This is your job. You might have to pull three all-nighters in a row to get something done because it’s very important, but there are also Thursday afternoons where not much is going on. You can just kick back and not have to work as hard. It’s not a 9 to 5 job, and I think people who get really stressed out are ones who think they have to do everything in a certain time frame. It’s truly a job for them, not a career or passion. I’ve accepted that this is the career I’m in. If you really care about something, it becomes a part of you. I don’t get stressed out because I have to work 14 hours. There are stressful situations, but getting stressed out doesn’t make them any less stressful. Also, I’m a runner. So that’s how I relieve stress. Some people like driving, some people like painting, reading or listening to music. Running let’s my mind wander.”
If PR were to be a genre of music, what would it be?
“The first thing that comes to mind is jazz. I associate jazz with the need to be smooth, fluid, nimble. It’s relaxing but also quick. But I’m also a heavy metal fan at heart. So it could be that when you’re focused on something, you’ve got to go 100% into it and put everything you can behind it. There’s time to relax, though. Even heavy metal groups have their power ballads.”