My first job after four years of professional folk singing was as a technical writer for the Institute of Gas Technology (IGT). There I learned how to listen to understand and write about scientific and technical topics. From there I moved into the PR department and did both internal and external communications. While I was at IGT, I got my MBA in marketing and management policy from the Kellogg School of Management.
Shortly after getting my MBA, I went to work for PR agency Burson-Marsteller as a technical account specialist. In addition to writing for technical and scientific accounts, I was, because of my MBA, tasked with developing strategy for client and prospect communications campaigns. Unfortunately, there was rarely much information on which to base the strategies. As an MBA, this was intolerable. So I started looking for ways to get good information on which to base strategic communications recommendations. This led me to positions in research and account planning in PR agencies.
While I was SVP, director, research and account planning, at Golin, CEOs of a number of companies asked us to develop sets of messages that would appeal to multiple stakeholders but not conflict with each other. Because I had information-based ways to develop persuasive messages, these projects came to me. I enjoyed working on these projects more than any others, because they are an area where communications blends with management. Developing messages that appeal to multiple stakeholders while not conflicting with each other seemed to me to be what CEOs had to do through actions. As managers, CEOs need to pull together different groups of people–investors, employees, customers, communities– all with competing goals, and create an enterprise in which all these groups of people all gain.
I also found that sometimes management did not have an acceptable message (or policy) for all stakeholder groups, and in those cases, it became necessary for me to let management know that the organization was not aligned with stakeholders and needed to either change itself or choose different stakeholders.
This is a point where communications consulting becomes management consulting, and today I find it as fascinating as I did then.
The relationship work came as a result of being exposed to the ideas of Pat Jackson, University of Maryland Professor Jim Grunig and others who feel the business of public relations is managing relationships. When Jim Grunig and Linda Hon published a paper that provided a technique for measuring the strength of relationships across six factors, I was anxious to apply it. Having done work in this area now, I know we can assess the strength of relationships and manage them for the better. This, too, is something senior managers are called on daily to do.
Recently, I have been asked to write copy for business and hi-tech accounts. I’ve done a Blog for years and I find I enjoy learning about clients and their challenges and writing content to help them connect with their stakeholders. It seems a natural outgrowth of my interest in understanding and managing relationships for my clients.
I have worked in communications for more than 30 years and have held senior positions in communications research and account planning for nearly 20 years at organizations including Golin, Burson-Marsteller, Applied Communications and Text 100.
I have an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management in marketing and management policy, and I have been designing and managing projects to optimize multiple stakeholder messaging and to enhance relationships for more than 15 years.
Clients for which I have done this kind of work include: Bank of America; Boy Scouts of America; Dairy Management, Inc.; Disney Imagineering; IBM; Michelin, North America; Stanford Athletics; United States Ski and Snowboard Association; and Weyerhaeuser.
When doing writing assignments, I specialize in business, technical and scientific topics. This draws on my Kellogg MBA and the years I spent writing for the Institute of Gas Technology, and Burson-Marsteller and Golin technical accounts such as Accenture, IBM, Oak Communications (maker of encryption-decryption systems for cable TV), Sun Microsystems, and others, such as Cambridge Consulting Group and Vormetric Data Security.
Memberships, Associations, Etc.
- Founding member of the Institute for Public Relations Measurement Commission and have written and contributed to a number of papers on this topic.
- Adjunct professor teaching communications research at George Washington University’s Masters’ Program in Strategic Public Relations.
- PRSA San Francisco Board Director in charge of research and analytics
- Support the San Francisco chapter of IABC with research and analytics