It’s that time of the week again: #GirlBossMonday!
For this week’s Girl Boss, we are taking a trip to the USA. We are only three weeks in with this blog series, and have covered quite some mileage already!
Deirdre Breakenridge, CEO of Pure Performance Communications tells us all about her rise to success in the PR industry, the changes in the sector and gives us some advice on how to believe in ourselves and be the best at what we do.
Deirdre is a veteran in the PR industry, and dare I say it, a PR guru. With almost 30 years experience in PR, she has written many books on the subject and even has her own Wikipedia page! #Goals
The reason I conduct these interviews is to inspire you, my readers, and fellow PR students to be successful in your careers and business leaders of the future. I have asked the important questions to gain an insight of how these #GirlBosses made it to where they are today, and how we can emulate their successes.
Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.
OC: Hi Deirdre! An easy question to start us off (I hope) – What is your full job title?
DB: Chief Executive Officer, Pure Performance Communications.
Can you give me a background of your career and education? How did this lead you to be in your PR position today?
I studied PR in college and received my BA in Communications. Then, after working at agencies for about 10 years I pursued my MBA because I wanted to learn more about marketing and running a business.
Simultaneously, I launched my first company in 1998 and was quickly acquired by a larger marketing firm. Being an owner/partner at an agency was both exciting and challenging. As President, I was in charge of the daily operations from finance and HR to technology and communications. It was this position, and my experience working with various teams on national and global client accounts that led to authoring books, speaking internationally and becoming an adjunct professor for different universities.
After 14 years of agency life and leadership, I transitioned into my own consulting practice, teaching at Rutgers University, New Jersey and UMASS (University of Massachusetts), speaking to industry organisations and conducting training workshops for companies in various industries.
What do you find most rewarding and most challenging about your role in PR?
The most rewarding part of my career has been the people I’ve met and the relationships I’ve forged. For 28 years, I’ve collaborated with the most amazing professionals who were always willing to share their knowledge and experiences.
As a result, at this stage of my career, I love giving back as a mentor and an educator working with students and professionals.
At times, the most challenging part of PR was the rejection from the media (especially when you’re first starting out) and the constant hurdle of proving PR’s value within an organisation.
Don’t let anyone tell you that the PR people are “just the folks who write the news releases.” PR is strategic communication practice that builds bridges between an organisation and its publics. From your focus on brand health, public confidence, and the work you do with the media and different constituents, PR is vital to the growth of any organisation.
If you were to hire someone for a PR role, what skills and qualities would your ideal candidate have?
PR has changed so much since I started. Today, PR professionals have to embrace both the art and science of the field in new ways. You must be creative, and, at the same time, understand data and analytics to help the organisation measure the results of your work in order to communicate more effectively.
PR professionals must know SEO, social media, simple coding, and be hands on with technology, much more than in years past.
Of course, skills such as being flexible and adaptable in a changing global environment are really important, as well as being great writers and speakers.
I also look for people who are very curious (which is a sign of leadership), proactive and have a deep passion. After all, you can teach anyone skills, but I don’t think you can teach someone how to be passionate.
What advice would you give to a student like myself that wants to emulate your success and make it in the PR industry?
Firstly I would say, don’t let anyone stop you from pursuing your goals and your dreams. I remember when I received my first book contract, a family member said to me, “You can’t write a book, you don’t know how.” True, I didn’t, but I learned very quickly. Always believe in yourself and others will believe in you too.
As for what you should be doing now… network and build relationships. Having a large database of people you know and who you can tap into as different resources is so important. I consider myself a Chief Relationship Agent (CRA). It’s not my official title, but something I’ve made up to describe what I do. Yes, I’m able to connect with people to collaborate with them, but I’m also focused on connecting others so they can do great work together.
Thank you Deirdre ♥
You can visit Pure Performance Communications website at www.pureperformancecomm.com
Follow Pure Performance Communications on Twitter : @PurePerComm
Follow Deirdre on Twitter : @dbreakenridge
Like Pure Performance Communications on Facebook : Pure Performance Comm