I currently hold the position of Senior Director of Marketing and Communication at the McCormick Foundation. My job here involves marketing of the grant making, museums, and events that are part of the Foundation, as well as the purely communications and PR-oriented functions of media relations, social media, executive support, internal communications, etc. I have a staff of five and report to the Foundation’s CEO. Since most of my career has been spent in the corporate world, this role in philanthropy has been a distinct shift for me. But I can attest to the fact that PR and marketing skills are definitely transportable and that sound PR strategy is valued virtually everywhere.
My First Real Job
My first real world job after graduate school was working for state government editing reports. It was not terribly exciting, but allowed me to learn skills that took me to my next job: PR and lobbying for a major insurance company. There I honed my skills in traditional PR and media relations and for the first time became acquainted with PR strategy. That in turn led me to VP and Senior VP positions in other corporations. Every job is a building block. Learn everything you can in every position you hold and then use it as the springboard to the next.
I’ve been fortunate to win almost every major award in the PR profession, including IABC’s Business Issues Award, presented each year to only one individual across the world. That was for my work at a company going through a big international bankruptcy that turned out well. But the accomplishments I’ve been most proud of have involved simply earning the trust of my CEO’s and other individuals not in our profession, who sometimes undervalue what PR can accomplish. Earning that trust and respect takes a lot of work, but is essential to anyone in our profession.
What Drives Your Professional Career
I have loved the profession of PR/Communication in all of its forms. It is multi-faced, always changing and never boring. I teach now as an adjunct because I want to instill that same kind of pride in the profession that I have had.
Three pieces of advice helpful to students.
Learn to write well—it continues to be the single most important skill in our profession. Get as much varied experience as you can before settling into one specialty area of PR, if you ever do—to really benefit from this profession, you will need to be adaptable. Never lose either your integrity or sense of humor.