Media Relations Director
What does public relations mean to you?
“The way I see public relations and what I always tell my staff is that our job is to provide reporters all of the information they need to write a story. It’s our job to make a reporter’s life easier. That, I think, is our mission and our main goal. But then, there are several sides to the PR position: you’re responding to requests – that’s where you’re dealing with reporters and providing them timely information – and then there’s the other side, which is pushing out stories. In that capacity, I see PR as basically cleaning the window so that people can see inside your organization and can get a better look at what’s going on.”
How did you start your career in public relations?
“My career in public relations started almost by mistake. I was doing advertising, and then the dot-com boom happened and I was working for a start-up, a portal. At one point, my job at the portal was to manage partnerships and get more content into the portal. I started talking to reporters and getting the story about the portal out and then somebody from a news organization said ‘You should be in PR’ and he offered me a job… and that was 15 years ago. I guess I’ve always been good at getting people excited about ideas.”
How has social media revolutionized the industry/changed the way you work?
“I think social media has definitely changed the way we all work. I see social media as a communications tool. I use it for media outreach. I use my personal social media accounts to talk to reporters and promote NPR stories. I think that in the current media environment, it’s very hard to keep your personal and your professional life separate on social media, so I think that you should just do the best you can to have one social media presence that communicates who you are as a whole.”
You’ve worked in the communications department in varying capacities: from a government agency to an association to a radio news broadcaster. How do they compare?
“Working for a government agency [as I did previously at the Smithsonian] communications was a very important part of the job, because you want to make sure that the public is aware that these exhibits are open and they’re free and anybody can go. And here at NPR, it’s almost like an extension of our mission. If the mission of NPR is to create an informed and engaged public, then it’s the mission of my department to make sure people know what we are doing. And also to tell the story of the storytellers, because sometimes people are curious and want to know more about the voices they hear on air: our reporters here in DC, at the Member Stations around the country or in our 17 international bureaus. So it’s great to tell the human story behind the person that is telling you the story.”
How do you see the future of the industry?
“I think that it’s hard to make any kind of prediction. But the basic things about PR will remain the same. It’s about fostering and nurturing relationships.”