Member Profile: Taylor Huckaby
Meet Taylor Huckaby,
Manager of Customer Communications, Slack
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why did you join PRSA and what is one of your favorite benefits that the organization provides?
I joined PRSA for friendship. I found it difficult to make friends as a professional, especially in a new city where I knew few people. PRSA puts you out there, with the added benefit of learning what other like-minded folks are doing in the field. In school, students get placed together with a group of peers and given access to lectures and luminaries—PRSA recreates some of that energy, and that’s my favorite thing about it.
You have been in PR for over 9 years. Share a few ways it has changed over the years and where you see it going.
I entered PR in 2008, right as the media landscape fell apart. Watching the disintegration of traditional media and the delamination of brand and content has been both terrifying and thrilling, especially as it seems few people outside of academia understand the implications of this fundamental reorganization within mass communication. The last decade has seen audiences become more and more entrenched and immobile, responding to messages that increasingly boil down to either HATE or LOVE.
In many ways, the demise of the traditional journalist has given rise to a new generation of PR professionals, but this change seems to be taking us down a very dark road. It’s critical we fight to preserve traditional news values, the most important of which being how we determine and tell people what is true. David Roberts at Vox recently wrote that America is on the verge of an epistemic crisis, and with PR consuming journalism, we cannot allow it to deepen. We must create standards and relentlessly adhere to them.
Tell us about one of your most memorable experiences during your career.
In the summer of 2014, I was working at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. and had the honor of putting together the programming for a visit from the Prime Minister’s Commission on the Holocaust, which included actress Helena Bonham Carter. The visit involved a tour of the Holocaust Museum, which we did very early in the morning before it normally opened. The whole experience was incredibly moving, as we stood silently in the Hall of Remembrance. Working with Ms. Carter in such an unexpected way, on such a weighty topic, will be something I never forget.
What’s your best advice to the new generation of PR professionals?
Support journalism. Buy access to magazines you like, and to local reputable publications. Some businesses and agencies provide a personal development stipend—consider spending it on subscriptions! Beyond that, help create standards within the industry. If you see an opportunity to stop the spread of fake news, take it. Help make the rules that govern how information is shared, and push those in power to choose truth over their ad revenue or user base.