A Pep Talk from PR Pros… What More Could You Ask For?

Written By: Valerie Wickboldt – Communications Director, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Big Bend, Inc.

Pep talks are great. Pep talks from award-winning professionals are even better.

I’m talking, of course, about the FPRA Past President’s Luncheon. At the new luncheon location at the Tallahassee Center, FPRA members listened intently as six well-known favorites answered questions from the audience about their PR careers.

From the fall of the typewriter to the rise of Twitter, these PR gurus have seen it all. Awe-inspiring campaign results, important legislative changes, history making achievements – all triumphs that top the list in their heartfelt accounts.

Hearing specifics from these individuals, such as the once in a lifetime chance to spend a moment with one of the world’s most endangered species, the Sumatran rhino, or getting the opportunity to watch live as Tallahassee Memorial Hospital staff began their first heart transplant surgery, we were all reminded of how a career in PR can afford many exciting experiences.

The panel included:

  • Warren Jones, APR, CPRA – VP/Chief Communications Officer at Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare
  • Kathy Torian, IOM – Corporate Communications Manager, VISIT FLORIDA
  • Rick Oppenheim, APR, CPRC – CEO, RB Oppenheim Associates
  • Rachel Smith, APR, CPRC – Communications Director, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
  • April Salter, APR, CPRC – President & COO, Salter>Mitchell
  • Terrie Ard, APR, CPRC – Senior VP, Moor Consulting Group

So back to my pep talk…

Of course, they may not have known they were giving me one, but nevertheless I was thankful to heed their words of wisdom.

Just before graduating from college in 2008 I was fortunate enough to gain a management position at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Big Bend, a large, local non-profit that currently cares for thousands of children and employs a staff of more than 100.

We have recently gone through some major changes (club closures, budget cuts and transition to a leaner than ever administrative staff). Each day, we cling to every hope that current capacity can be sustained in the months to come.

As some of you may know, working at a non-profit allows for numerous opportunities for employees to wear multiple hats and get their hands dirty.

Normally, I like facing challenges head on, but I’m not afraid to say, there have been situations where I wanted to be a one-hat-women with freshly sanitized hands. Especially, when faced with the crisis of a down economy and the reality of a struggling non-profit.

When that happens, a goofy quote I heard once pops into my head, “The best angle from which to approach a problem is the Try-angle.”

I think FPRA’s past presidents panel would agree, as the quotes to remember from this meeting include:

  • Be in wonder of what you do as PR professionals get to be on the cutting edge
  • You get out of it what you put into it
  • Always have your mind open to the learning opportunities that are all around
  • Be willing to take on things that you don’t know how to do
  • Wearing many hats helps one become a more valuable asset
  • Be nice to those on your way up because you’ll meet them on your way down
  • Never be afraid to hire someone smarter then you
  • Tell it all, tell it fast and tell the truth
  • Be a renaissance
  • Become accredited (if you are interested contact Rachel Smith at [email protected])

These six, successful PR experts didn’t get where they are today by throwing in the towel. That was very clear.

Maybe others needed their pep talk too for those times when challenges overwhelm, but at this particular moment in my young career, I needed to be served what they were dishing out at this luncheon.

Thank you all for fighting through trying times, breaking through barriers and being a role model for all of us.