Member Profile: Meghan Lynch Forder
Meet Meghan Lynch Forder,
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Why did you join PRSA and what is one of your favorite benefits that the organization provides?
After nearly 15 years in the field, I finally joined PRSA after I completed my master's degree in strategic communications. Ironically, it wasn't until I had a formal education in communications and public relations that I realized how much more I still needed to learn. I'm excited about the networking, but my favorite PRSA benefit is the webinars. I can get expert guidance while sitting in my own office!
You have been in PR for nearly 15 years. Share a few ways it has changed over the years and where you see it going.
Obviously, digital is the biggest change. When I started we were still printing paper press releases to hand out at trade shows, and those would be posted as PDFs to the website. It was a one-way communication relationship. Early on it seemed like people were using digital and social media as just a new, shorter way to post a press release. I think many organizations are just hitting their stride in using the full, interactive potential of digital communications. For example, I just played an interactive online game about supporting early child development in the community. It was fun, and communicated a complex issue quickly and easily. I was inspired.
Going forward, I think we'll see more of that interactive communication as a way to explain the mission of our organizations. Ultimately, though, relationship building—that back-and-forth conversation between an organization and those it serves—still has to be the most important focus, and the interactive capabilities of digital media or whatever comes next will support that.
Tell us about one of your most memorable experiences during your career.
It's funny, I was involved in some big PR efforts over the years, but the most memorable experience was developing a communications plan for a school district. It changed my whole perspective—I used to be focused on what we wanted the audience to know, and this project forced me to focus on what families wanted and needed to know, and what they could teach us about the way we communicated. The parents had so many thoughts about what they wanted to see, and they were eager to share. It forced me to look at the audience as a partner in the communication process, not just a passive recipient. My main question is no longer "How do we get this message to these people?" but "What do these people need from us and what do we need to learn from them?" I think that service perspective is key to effective communications for any organization—whether it's a tech company or a school.
What's your best advice to the new generation of PR professionals?
Whatever new technology comes along, the basics still apply: tell a compelling story in a way that matters to your audience. Ultimately, it's all about real people and real relationships—you listen to your client and to your audience, and you communicate as clearly and accessibly as possible, whatever the medium. If you're passionate about your organization's message, that will come across in everything you produce.