Member Profile: Mitchell Friedman, Ed.D., APR
Meet Mitchell Friedman,
We 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.
Why did you join PRSA and what is one of your favorite benefits that the organization provides?
If you claim membership in a profession you must support and advocate for it. That meant joining PRSA in 1993. I'm inspired by the tireless, dedicated volunteers who lead the organization. They've enabled chapters like ours to persist through good times and bad.
You have been in PR for 30 years. Share a few ways it has changed over the years and where you see it going.
I landed my first agency job in 1988 and chose to become self-employed in 1992. Few professionals were working for themselves then. Those of us who did had to figure things out on our own in the absence of role models or other forms of support. Today, self-employment and entrepreneurship are much more common. Clients and prospective clients consider us legitimate!
Media has democratized, thanks to the Internet, social media, and related technologies. The competition for information constantly increases. This development raises the bar for our work as PR professionals. We have to continue to strive to improve our skills. Otherwise, our services may be deemed dispensable.
Finally, lines between PR, advertising, and marketing will continue to blur. Throw in concepts du jour like “strategic communication” and it’s harder to figure out who does what. Yet some PR professionals turn a blind eye to this issue. I recall a conversation with an agency principal about 20 years ago. The discussion turned to defining public relations. He responded offhandedly, “I don’t care what they call it as long as they pay my bill.” We must care passionately about making the case for what we do. We must act with all due speed lest our profession fade into oblivion.
Tell us about one of your most memorable experiences during your career.
I'm a practitioner, educator and professional development consultant. I relish opportunities to facilitate groups of professionals charged with creating innovative PR campaigns. The quality of the work they’ve delivered has been amazing. I often get more excited about their success than they do!
What’s your best advice to the new generation of PR professionals?
Cultivate an intellectual interest outside of public relations. That might build on your undergraduate education. Or you find another subject to explore. Such immersion changes your perspective for the better. You’ll gain new, exciting insight. You’ll see old problems in new ways. Most important, the effort will help you improve the quality of your work for clients. Besides, having broad and deep interests makes you more interesting to others.