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.

Heidi K. Zuhl
Senior Communications Consultant

Kaiser Permanente

 

Why did you join PRSA and what is one of your favorite benefits that the organization provides?

I joined PRSA to get out of my bunny slippers! In the early 2000s, I worked for a virtual agency, which specialized in financial services and financial tech. In this pre-FaceTime era, how would clients know I was still in sweats at 4 p.m.?

Over time, though, I missed in-person collegial banter and wanted to connect with other PR professionals live.

I attended PRSA-SF’s monthly mixer, then called First Thursdays, in 2002, and was impressed with the people I met and by the educational programs offered. I recognized this was an organization of which I wanted to be a part.

Soon after, I joined the First Thursdays’ committee and later, went on to chair the committee. In 2005, I was invited to join PRSA-SF’s board, and in 2009, served as chapter president. I am currently a member of PRSA’s national Health Academy executive committee.   

I keep my PRSA membership current for the educational offerings, including chapter programs, topic-specific webinars, and conferences, and for the opportunity to meet and work with such talented PR professionals. Some of my closest friends are people I first met through PRSA.

You have been in PR for over7 years. Share a few ways it has changed over the years and where you see it going.

Fundamentally, public relations hasn’t changed. As practitioners, we are tasked with engaging and informing target audiences, building relationships with them, and then bringing back key information to our company or client for evaluation and appropriate next steps. I firmly believe in the importance of practicing our craft ethically and value PRSA for its Code of Ethics as a set of standards to follow.

The proliferation of technology to monitor the internet and its use for program evaluation has contributed to some changes in the way we PR professionals work. And while analytics pros Katie Payne and Forrest Anderson have rallied around this for years, I applaud the increased global call for incorporating measurement into our work. 

Tell us about one of your most memorable experiences during your career.

Since 2012, I’ve had many memorable experiences working in Kaiser Permanente’s Communications department. While many projects are confidential, they deal with diverse, complex issues for internal and external audiences. I collaborate with others in legal, compliance, HR, labor relations, and with medical professionals, and particularly enjoy participating on pan-organizational teams tasked with implementing new state laws.

What’s your best advice to the new generation of PR professionals?

  • Read widely. Seek out the best sources of business, general, client/company and PR news.
  • Don’t be defined by your current title. Prepare yourself today for future roles.
  • Consider others’ advice, but also be true to yourself and seek your own professional path.
  • Have interests outside of work. Play sports, take up a hobby or spend time with friends and family, for instance.
  • Get involved with PRSA in a way that’s meaningful and do-able time wise for you. The people you’ll meet and the things you’ll learn will help you grow personally and professionally.