Natalie Dean

Natalie Dean
Senior Associate of Communications


What’s your secret to being successful in PR in three words?

“The three words that I would use are mentors, flexibility and innovation. Having a mentor is the number one key to being successful. I think you can learn a lot from people who have already been in your shoes, but you can also learn a lot from people who want to step into your shoes. People who have already been at or exceeded my level of expertise or professional position are definitely people that I want to tap into for insight. But because of the industry we’re in, I think it’s also useful to reach back and tap into those new and fresh minds as well. Flexibility, because this industry is ever-evolving. You’ll learn one process in school and then you’ll get out into the real world and the process will be completely different. So while it’s good to have core foundational skills, it’s also important to stay flexible. Lastly, innovation, because you are probably only as good as your next big idea. With this industry, you’ve got to stay on your toes with quick thinking – and not just quick thinking, smart thinking.”

What has surprised you the most about working in PR?

“Probably that it is ever-evolving. There’s always something new to learn, which is actually a good thing, because it keeps me excited about the profession and it prevents me from being bored or getting burnt out. For instance, social media is one thing when you’re using it for recreational use, but it’s completely different when you’re doing it for a company. Organizations change their [social media] policies all the time. On Facebook you used to be able to just have a fan page, and people liked it, and you show up on their news feeds. Now there are all of these new algorithms for how you show up on peoples’ news feeds. You have to make sure that your timing is good. You have to track when your fans are on Facebook so that you make sure you have the best opportunity to reach them. It can be a headache, but once you get it right, it’s a good thing.”

How has your job affected your lifestyle?

“I have actually tried to, in more recent years, make sure that my job doesn’t affect my lifestyle, but that my lifestyle affects my job. After eight years in PR, especially having worked in an agency for most of those eight years, having six clients at a time, at least, can be fairly taxing. It can impede on your life outside of the office. So I made the decision to move to in-house PR at a non-profit organization, because it allows me to focus on one client instead of several. Plus, it allows me to have more time for a life outside of the office. My job initially affected my lifestyle in that I was all work and no play, but I’ve tried to shift that in recent years so that my life aligns with my work. Instead of it being a work/life balance, it’s work/life integration. Now I also have time to focus on my non-profit, Whine & Cheese [a charity serving women across the U.S.], an idea that was birthed from having my job affect my lifestyle. Whine & Cheese became an outlet for me and many other women to still retain a piece of themselves as professionals. The transition has definitely allowed me to put time and attention into the things that I love, such as this.”

How would you reach out to a potential client if you needed some business?

“I have always been a fan of face-to-face communication. I feel more comfortable reaching out to somebody if I’ve seen them in person – whether it be at a reception or a networking event – because I feel like I can make a more organic connection with someone if its face to face. And once I make a connection, I still would rather follow up with a lunch or something like that. In our day and age, it’s such a lost art to have interpersonal skills, because you can hide behind a computer or a cell phone all day and never really have to interact with people. Public relations is relating to the public. So I think starting at the basics – walking up to somebody, introducing yourself and opening up an organic line of communication so that they’re comfortable with you – is necessary. And then you can go in for the pitch.”

Who’s a person you admire the most in the public relations industry?

“The person who has inspired me the most and the person I was introduced to when I started PR was Terrie Williams [strategist, author, inspirational speaker, therapist and philanthropist]. She wrote a book called The Personal Touch: What You Really Need to Succeed in Today’s Fast Paced Business World, which is about maintaining your original and special qualities in all of your professional dealings with both clients and colleagues. It’s about leaving a lasting impression on people with a personal touch. I read her book more than 10 years ago and I still reference a lot of the tips that she shared in her book now. She would probably be the person in the industry that I admire the most. I’m always inspired by people who step out on faith and do what they love and create sustainable businesses behind them, but Terrie Williams still tops the list.”