Career Guide

10 Pearls of Career Wisdom From PRSA’s College of Fellows

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In honor of the 30th Anniversary of PRSA’s College of Fellows (#Fellows30th), members shared a “Pearl of Wisdom” — a piece of advice they were given that impacted their lives or careers and is something they pass on to others. 

Steve Seekins, APR, Fellow PRSA, class of 1993: “In your developing career, it’s all about drawing circles and lines. Draw circles around the things you love doing and want to do more of, and draw lines through the things you hope you never have to do again.”

Don Bates, APR, Fellow PRSA, class of 1999: “Out of sight is out of mind. Therefore, be seen, be known, participate, share, give back, lead. It’s time-consuming work, but the payoff is well worth the effort.”

Deborah Radman, APR, Fellow PRSA, class of 2004: “Gratitude is the root of happiness. In context, it means: Be grateful for everything that comes your way professionally. Take as much advantage of opportunity as you can and be thankful for it every day. Through gratitude you will see your path to aspiring higher and being part of something bigger.”          

Marisa Vallbona, APR, Fellow PRSA, class of 2008: “The best advice I was ever given for my career was to approach every situation asking myself the question ‘How can I be of service?’ When you put others first and focus on how you can help them instead of what you can gain from the interaction, it creates positive energy, creativity and goodwill that breeds success for everyone involved. Here’s to decades of success for future College of Fellows inductees!”

Margaret Ann Hennen, APR, Fellow PRSA, class of 2009: “Spend the first six months as a new manager listening actively while resisting making changes. Listening builds trust with your employees, especially when they see their ideas incorporated into the changes you do make to build the professionalism of the department.”

Rose McKinney, APR, Fellow PRSA, class of 2014: “‘Polite Persistence Pays Off’ is a fun alliteration, but it’s also an encouraging reminder that in public relations we have to keep moving forward on behalf of our clients and employers. Whether it was media relations early on in my career or starting Pineapple later on, I am continually reminded that positive outcomes are the result of being polite and being persistent. This is advice I share with my agency team, with my clients and with my students because it acknowledges that hard work takes time but is well worth it.”

• Paula Pedene, APR, Fellow PRSA, class of 2015: “Read about Pat Jackson, his work and what he did to strengthen our profession. He encouraged me to join PRSA and offered to sponsor me (at a time when that was required). He told me to get involved. I did and it changed my life. The pearls have multiplied while a member of this organization. The friends and professionals I have met have touched my life in priceless ways because Pat Jackson, a pearl himself, simply asked me to join.”

Barbara Kerr, APR, Fellow PRSA, class of 2015: “My pearl of wisdom — for my career and my life — can be summed up in two words: Say yes. When you have an opportunity to try something new, say yes. If it succeeds, you’ll learn. If it doesn’t turn out as you hoped, you will still learn. When you look back at your career, I truly believe that you won’t regret the things you tried. You will think about the opportunities you didn’t seize, for whatever reason. Don’t look back with regret at the path not taken. Embrace every opportunity to learn, serve, inspire others and aspire higher. Say yes.”      

M.J. Clark, APR, Fellow PRSA, class of 2016: “My pearl of wisdom comes from something one of my first supervisors said to me. I was explaining to him why something could not be done. He looked at me and said, ‘No excuses, M.J., just make it happen.’ That mantra in my head all these years has served me well in PR and in life.”

Dan Dunne, APR, Fellow PRSA, class of 2018: “Never be afraid to step outside your comfort zone to take on new and exciting opportunities. In my more than thirty years in the communications profession, it has been the new and challenging situations that have helped me the most to enrich my skills and achieve the greatest job satisfaction.” 

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John Elsasser

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