Meet the Board Monday: Mitchell Friedman
June 3, 2019
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In our latest edition of ‘Meet the Board Mondays,’ a series to help you get to know your 2019 Board of Directors, we bring you PRSA-SF Bay Area Director of APR, Mitchell Friedman, EdD, APR. In his day job, he's a Visiting Associate Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, an Adjunct Professor at USF and a consultant, trainer, and coach on individual and organizational issues.
Give us a P-R-S-A!
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a native New Yorker, which I proudly proclaim even after living in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 30 years. My career has been anything but linear or planned. My initial goal was to become a history professor, but my plans changed. I eventually found my way into public relations by networking my way into a position with a now-defunct Silicon Valley agency. That experience was formative in many ways and stoked in me a love for agency life. Several years later, I decided to pursue self-employment in public relations. I subsequently consulted with nonprofit, technology, real estate, and professional services organizations. In addition, I started to teach public relations at local universities, and concurrently delivered training and professional development program for agencies. Ultimately, I returned to school to earn my doctorate. Along the way I held administrative positions at local universities, finally winding up in my current job as a senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. I continue to consult with local agencies and other entities outside academia as I believe I must ground my teaching in what’s going on in the real world (i.e., outside the classroom); otherwise, I don’t feel I’m on as firm footing as I need to be in the classroom.
What’s the reason you joined and serve PRSA?
If you claim to belong to a profession, it’s incumbent on you to support the advancement of that profession. That means you join its professional association, and get involved. That’s the broad reason why I joined and remain in PRSA. More specifically, I’ve consistently been impressed and inspired by the individuals who volunteer to serve as leaders at the club, district, and national levels in PRSA. Their enthusiasm is infectious.
What are your specialties in your personal and professional life?
I landed my first job in public relations because I could speak well. That ability lent itself to extended work in media relations, or, as I like to refer to it, “smiling and dialing.” I believe that speaking and teaching remain my strongest skills. Gradually, I gained more experience (and confidence) in my writing abilities, to the point where I now feel they’re on a par with my oral presentation skills.
I also observed early on in my PR career that I processed information and make connections between concepts differently than others. Perhaps, as one supervisor suggested, that reflected my unique educational background (two degrees in history). Regardless, I’ve seen how my creative thinking abilities have served me well in PR as well as in myriad other professional adventures I’ve had.
It may not be a specialty, but I am known for wearing outrageous socks and spontaneously bursting out into song when the opportunity presents itself (usually when I’m speaking or teaching).
What advice would you give other PR pros?
Recognize that public relations is a management function that optimally works closely with senior management in an organization. It’s not just about publicity or media relations! In turn, advocate tirelessly for public relations as a “strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics” (taken from https://www.prsa.org/all-about-pr/). Continue to educate yourself to confidently carry this mantle in all your professional endeavors.