Our very own Michelle Egan was featured on PRSA’s Content Connection website. Here’s the interview!
What was your first PR job?
I was fortunate to begin my career in the non-profit sector where my responsibilities included volunteer management, fundraising and PR. Non-profits are a great place to learn how to “do it all” and “do more with less” while experiencing the true value of relationship building.
What part of your job do you enjoy the most?
Working with leaders to ensure we make decisions that benefit both the company and our stakeholders is very rewarding. I’ve worked with leaders who have a strong commitment to values and ethics and who are willing to have their opinions challenged. There’s nothing better than crafting strategy and finding solutions in that environment.
If you couldn’t be in communications what would you do?
My undergraduate degree in Psychology has helped me see things from the perspective of others which is a valuable skill for a communicator. If I wasn’t doing this, I’d be doing something that helps others grow — teaching, coaching, counseling.
Why did you choose to serve as a national leader?
Why PRSA? I owe a lot to PRSA. Through this organization, I discovered how rewarding a communications career could be and I built a rock solid support network. Additionally, the APR process grounded me in theory that my education hadn’t provided and it ignited a passion for the Code of Ethics. I’m absolutely committed to repaying the organization through volunteer leadership.
Why now? This is a critical time for communications professionals. Communication vehicles are advancing at warp speed and a growing number of people call themselves professional communicators. It’s critical that we advocate for our profession and ethical practices and continue member education. Otherwise, we risk having the way we practice our craft redefined in a way that isn’t good for the profession or society at large.
What is the most important quality of leadership?
Of all the leadership principles out there, I’m drawn to the one described by authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner: Model the Way. Setting vision and goals and espousing values are pointless if the leader’s behavior isn’t aligned. True leaders roll up their sleeves, take on difficult challenges and demonstrate ethics in every aspect of their lives. Nothing is more inspirational than a role model.
What are your thoughts about the future of PR?
Recognition of the importance of effective communication, including trust and transparency, seems at an all-time high. Customers and stakeholder expect to engage with organizations in real time on real issues. Moving forward, we’ll need qualified communicators to do the work and counsel leaders, but we have to be fast and adaptive. We have to learn and develop new technologies and stay engaged in current events and trends. PRSA plays a key role in this future as we keep our members up to date, develop thought leadership and advocate for ethical communication practices.