Not too long ago, I was walking down the street with a consultant, discussing the challenges of working in public relations in an academic institution.
“I know the faculty can be tough and very opinionated,” he said, “but I’m an expert.”
I was stunned by his hubris. (It’s always way better if someone else says that about you.) It struck me that this guy was very different from the consultants I had worked with in the past and had grown to respect for their knowledge, integrity and willingness to work in a mutually beneficial partnership.
No surprise that the guy turned out to be a charlatan.
In my quarter century in the public relations business I have encountered all kinds of people and all kinds of problems and challenges. The foundation of the success I have had is honesty and integrity and my ability to work in a collaborative relationship with colleagues and clients. At the core of any enduring relationship is trust, and I believe I have earned that from the many people with whom I have worked. I remain keenly aware that the goal of any public relations program or project is to help organizations build that trust with their important constituencies.
So I’m not claiming to be an expert, just offering an expertise based on many highly successful years of experience working at the vice presidential level and managing comprehensive public relations programs at major universities. Here are some of the areas:
- Strategic Management – The goal of any public relations program or project is to elicit desired behaviors from people who are important to the success of an organization. It is essential to align an organization’s public relations priorities with its strategic business and operational plan.
- Crisis Management – It is critical in any crisis to move thoughtfully and promptly to address a problem or issue, mitigating its impact on an organization’s ability to move forward with its mission.
- Media Relations – The burgeoning number of media channels has made media relations a more challenging task than ever before. The ability to target an organization’s messages is ever more critical.
- Web and Social Media Strategy and Management – The Web has become an organization’s most important communications channel. Building a robust, useful and inviting Web presence is critical, but equally important is a strategy to drive users to an organization’s Web site and the implementation of a program to monitor and measure its impact on users’ behavior.
- Internal Communications – Well informed and engaged employees can be compelling advocates for their organization. The key to building their trust is providing honest, relevant and timely information and strengthening their commitment to the organization’s vision and mission.
- Organization and Management of Creative Services – The decentralized nature of colleges and universities has made the ability “to speak with one voice” an enduring challenge in the higher education industry. It is vitally important for any organization to communicate clearly and effectively with its key constituencies. It is just as important that its communications convey an organization’s quality. Organizing and managing the development and production of print and Web communications are critical components of a public relations strategy.
- Editorial Support Services – Professional writing and editing are the foundation of effective and compelling communications. It is critical for organizations to establish and maintain high standards for quality and consistency.
I have been engaged at the strategic level for almost my entire career, working closely with presidents and institutional leaders and bringing a public relations perspective to decision-making.
I have built comprehensive public relations organizations from the ground up, and I have introduced public relations organizational structures to meet institutions’ communications needs and pursue their business goals. I have built productive partnerships with every key administrative and academic area, including Development, Admissions and Government Relations. I have initiated new channels of communication to enable institutions to reach their most important constituencies more effectively. I have structured design, editorial and project management organizations to foster greater consistency and higher quality standards.
I have led the introduction, development and successful implementation of brand strategy. I have been involved in the management of a wide range of crises, both short- and long-term, and I have created and implemented strategies to address issues and challenges in the public arena. My work in national media relations has earned numerous national awards. And I have led the development of some of higher education’s most robust Web and social media communications.
My many years in public relations and involvement with colleagues and professional organizations at the national level have enabled me to build a network of seasoned and talented practitioners. I can call on this network when a team is needed to address a public relations problem, issue or project.
Not sure if any of that makes me an expert, but my goal is not to earn that moniker. At the end of any productive and successful partnership I hope I have earned my partners’ trust and proven they can always rely on my judgment, candor, collegiality, and public relations knowledge and skill.