How long have you been in the PR field? This July will mark my 30th anniversary of working with professional communicators and media. Time sure flies.
What was your first job in the profession? My first job was with PR Newswire where I was a PR communications services consultant -- and then after only one year became bureau manager. I led that office for nearly 17 years before moving to Bogota, Colombia (because of my wife’s job). I worked remotely for the three years until PR Newswire went through a re-org and I lost my job along with other long-time professionals. In 2007 was hired by Warren Buffett’s Business Wire to head up and create its Public Policy Services. Later, I added LatinoWire to my list of responsibilities and last year, began also working very closely with PR agencies.
Tell us about your range of experience and/or your greatest skills. Communications and distribution strategist targeting specific media, decision-makers, influentials, and the public that goes online looking for news. I think my greatest skill is listening to client issues/needs and then suggesting services that make sense. With 30 years of experience, there’s a good level of trust factor built in.
What’s your greatest career achievement? I’d say becoming an SVP at Business Wire – really it’s the culmination of a great career (that hasn’t ended yet, of course), but with that the volunteering that goes with it – PRSA-NCC and with the National Press Club. Working hard and “giving back” go hand-in-hand and are critically important. At the same time, I’ve been close to many PR success stories many of which have made news history – wars, presidential political campaigns, international intrigue, and more. Fun times.
What are your current career/professional goals? To continue doing what I currently do because I love what I do. I always tell people that I feel blessed because when I was in college, I always said to myself as I’d walk to school and passed the newsstand (when I attended Hunter College in NYC) that I wish I could get paid for reading news. Now I’m at the center of it all – working with news makers and the media that report it.
How would you describe your professional philosophy? It’s always been working hard, with honesty and integrity AND caring about others. Going the extra mile when advice or counsel was asked for and always following up.
What’s your dream job? I have it now at Business Wire…although I’ve always dreamed about being involved in a presidential campaign – obviously dealing with communications.
Who would you consider to be your mentor, and why? I have two. John Williams was the thought-leader for news distribution services and was way ahead of his time on many fronts. He taught me to listen, learn and care about what’s important to our client and to find solutions AND always be there for them -- 24/7. Larry Stephens, longtime chief of communications for AP in Washington, taught me about the AP and news delivery systems that I still talk about on every client visit. It’s important for us to explain how the newswire really works in getting our clients’ news to traditional media and beyond -- to all a client’s key audiences – online, social, decision-makers, etc.
Offer any advice you have for maintaining work/life balance. I think everyone needs a good balance of work, family and doing things for oneself too. How do you find a good balance of time? The question is easy; the answer may be difficult. Create good habits that allow you to get in most of what you want to accomplish each day …be it exercise, hobbies, family time, working smart, etc.
Offer any advice you have for today’s PR practitioner. Find yourself and what you truly love – not what you’re force to do. Follow your passion within PR and if you can’t, it’s time to re-examine. Seek advice from other professionals as to what they do, ask lots of questions, get to know a lot of people, network and take chances. You only live once. But whatever it is… be happy (as best you can).
When you’re not working, what do you like to do in your spare time? I’m a magician and am involved in two magician clubs, Ring 50 of the International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Virginia Magicians Society. I love mentalism, escapes and cards. I often perform one trick at Professional Development Committee meetings of which, I’m co-chair. I also like to read books about World War II, and Eric Larson books that combine history and often-times mystery. My favorite books of his were “The Devil in the White City” and “In the Garden of Beasts.” I also love gardening/landscaping at my home in Alexandria and enjoy vacations to off-beat locations.