Meet our members!  We will periodically feature veteran and new PRSA San Francisco members, and tell the story of their public relations career.  If you would like to suggest a PRSA San Francisco member for a profile, please send an email to prsasf@gmail.com.

 

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Beth Foley

Senior Director, Corporate Communications at Pacific Gas and Electric Company

 

How did you get started in public relations/communications and what has your journey looked like?


I can thank a hermit crab, believe it or not. I was starting an internship in public relations with the City of Ocean City, New Jersey. When I went to meet with the city’s public relations lead, a salt-of-the-earth man named Mark Soifer, he told me to have a seat and get to know his hermit crab, Martin Z. Mollusk, while he finished up an interview with the New York Times. After Martin and I became acquainted, Mark proceeded to introduce me to the wonders of PR. Mark became and still is a mentor and inspiration. During that internship, I learned the importance of having passion for your customers, a dedicated work ethic, and, most importantly, a sense of humor. 

foleyBeth_crab.jpgOcean City Public Relations Director Mark Soifer chats it up with a Martin Z. Mollusk lookalike.
Photo courtesy of DBKphoto.

And the road from there:While working full-time, I earned my Master of Art in professional communications at La Salle University (I have been privileged to be an instructor of graduate-level PR courses there, as well). I followed that with a stint at Villanova University, where I earned my Executive Master of Business Administration. I am an alumnus of Leadership Philadelphia as well as Leadership California.

Throughout my life, I have been reminded that while education is a big asset, the “street-smarts” you pick up from life experiences are equally important. Not being afraid to try new things and learn everything I can along the way has taught me some unforgettable lessons. You have to be willing to take an appropriate level of risk and be ready to fail sometimes – and then learn from those mis-steps. Some of my best lessons have come from my biggest mistakes. 

I am also fortunate that this approach opened many exciting doors for me. Before relocating to San Francisco, I served as VP of Corporate Communications and VP of Marketing in different industries. I’ve worked for Fortune 200 companies, a startup, government and an agency. I’ve added marketing, financial communications, digital media, brand, advertising and a whole host of other functions to my professional portfolio because I am willing to say, “I am happy to take that on.” 

It’s been an amazing journey so far – and it has happened with the help and encouragement of phenomenal people along the way.  

What do you like the most about your career in public relations/communications?

I like the variety, the challenge and the reward. 

Every day in PR brings new prospects and new challenges. I like this because it pushes me to think panoramically about the company, its brand and, most importantly, the customers. Mostly what I like is that communications has something very few functions possess – the ability to help shape policy for every part of the business. 

I readily admit that all of this comes with a heavy price. PR is a 24/7 job, anywhere you go. It was 24/7 even when Martin and I were working together and it is even more so in the current environment. The professional Zen for me has always been that I start every morning and end every day thinking the same thing – my team and I are making a difference. 

Tell us about a memorable moment in your career.

So many moments come to mind. At the top: hiring and leading incredibly talented and capable people. The ideas, energy and dedication of team members motivate and sustain me. There is nothing more memorable to me than seeing a well-deserving team member and/or mentee accomplish what he or she wants to achieve. 

Why did you join PRSA and how does your membership benefit you?

I joined PRSA early in my career and I did so to broaden my professional portfolio by learning more about the communications channels with which I was familiar, and get introduced to those that were new to me. Unfortunately, I still haven’t tapped the even bigger benefit PRSA offers its members – networking. Interacting with others in our field is critical – to our growth and, more importantly, our sanity.