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 info@prsasf.org.

Courtney Siekirk
Manager, Corporate Relations
Genentech

Why did you join PRSA and what is one of your favorite benefits that the organization provides?
I actually just joined the San Francisco chapter of PRSA just a few months ago, and I’m already so impressed by the organization and everything it has to offer. PRSA makes it easy to stay on top of current trends in the industry and the networking is fantastic – what better way to learn and grow than from others in the field.  
Back in college, I was involved in the Michigan State University chapter of our student organization, PRSSA, and held an office as the Vice President of Chapter Development. It was actually PRSSA that helped me find (and land) my first full time job. An email was sent to our PRSSA chapter president about an entry-level healthcare PR job in New York. I jumped on the opportunity and found myself just a few short weeks later living in the Big Apple and starting my career!

Tell us a little about your background in the industry, including how long you’ve been in the profession, and share a few ways it has changed over the years and where you see it going.
I’ve always found healthcare and science fascinating, and actually spent my first few years of college studying to be a nurse. Needless to say, bodily fluids and I did not meld well, so I decided to change course.
While still in school, I had the opportunity to work at a local health and fitness magazine, where I wrote profile stories, press releases and helped managed events. I also had an internship in the communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. It was after both of these experiences that I knew I had found my niche.
After graduation, I moved to New York City and began working in the healthcare PR department at Weber Shandwick. NYC was quite a culture shock for this native Michigander, but I took every opportunity possible to work on a wide variety of projects, learn from some of the absolute best in the business and ultimately develop my core PR skills. After working at two different agencies in NYC, I decided to pack my bags and move the west coast to pursue an in-house opportunity at Genentech.
It has been almost six years since I began my PR career full time, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store.

Tell us about one of your most memorable experiences during your career.
I’ve had so many wonderful experiences! The one that immediately comes to mind was working on Genentech’s Birth of Biotech event at the Smithsonian. It was incredible to be part of such a momentous celebration of science and see the history of the biotech industry come to life. Working in PR can have its perks and I can’t help but mention some of my celebrity encounters through work on various PR campaigns and events: Katie Couric, Madeleine Stowe and Deepak Chopra to name a few favorites.

What’s your best advice to the new generation of PR professionals?
1) Network, Network, Network - I cannot stress this enough. Relationships are the cornerstone of this business and I can honestly say all of the big opportunities I’ve had thus far in my career have always stemmed from relationships in the industry.
2) Start internships early - PR cannot be fully taught in a classroom and real life experience is needed in order to truly understand the industry and start building your skill set. And don’t forget to take a writing or journalism course – even in an era of digital communication, writing skills are still essential in our industry.