Member Profile: Michael Fineman
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 email@example.com.
President, Fineman PR
How did you get started in public relations/communications and what has your journey looked like?
In short order, I switched from teaching high school English in Oregon to interning in a local public relations agency that offered the start of a new, more fulfilling career. I saw the possibility of leveraging the capabilities I acquired as an English and History major and teacher, and I enjoyed writing rather than teaching the craft to others who were not always so appreciative. After interning, I moved to San Francisco where I was able to win an entry-level paid position that turned fast track. It became quickly obvious to me and to my employer that I was destined to practice public relations as a career. I worked long hours, was passionate and dedicated, and was appointed Vice President after two years. I stayed on six years total before moving on to start my own firm with the help of a previous agency client with whom I had maintained contact. I have to say I adored my boss, professionally speaking, and learned my lessons from her well, but I was in a hurry to take a more advanced, decisive role than it appeared she was ready to offer. That was 25 years ago, and I am still loving it, mostly.
What do you like the most about your career in public relations/communications?
My career has been good to me. Not everyone is born to be a business owner, nor can anyone count on a high degree of long-term success, but I especially enjoy the independence it has provided. On the one hand, I believe that having my business has given me the capability of determining my own fate, but, on the other hand, I know that so much over the years can only be attributed to dumb luck (or divine determination, depending on your religious perspective). You know the old saying about half the time, success comes from just showing up. Also, the path I have trod in my business has led me to a strong emphasis on crisis communications and issues management, and that has been gratifying as I have been able to viscerally see the good that has come of my client counsel. For me, there is meaning in knowing that I have not built my career on fluff or having an agency that was known for being just a press release factory.
Tell us about a memorable moment in your career.
There have been so many satisfying moments in which our counsel made a difference, especially in the realm of crisis communications. Certainly one of the best was helping a low income real estate developer, having experienced a tragic accident in one of its apartment properties, prove to all concerned in the local community that it was not at fault, as was being falsely charged, and that the development company’s subsequent efforts were based on true goodwill and good faith to the community it served.
Why did you join PRSA and how does your membership benefit you?
I believe that membership in PRSA, both locally and nationally, demonstrates professional credibility and a commitment to practice ethically and with the knowledgeable foundation built by so many great communications minds that came before me.