Member Profile: Catherine "Cat" Brozena
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Catherine "Cat" Brozena
Founder and Chief Colorist
ColorThisWorld Communications, Inc.
Why did you join PRSA and what is one of your favorite benefits that the organization provides?
I first joined PRSA while working in my previous role as a Senior Communications Consultant at Kaiser Permanente. During that time, I attended a few webinars and in-person presentations, thoroughly enjoyed the networking events (including some time spent at PRSA International in San Francisco in 2012), and found myself gobbling up tons of cutting-edge PR and marketing insights from publications like “Issues & Trends” and PR Tactics. When I decided to go out on my own as an independent practitioner, I knew I’d be needing those resources more than ever to keep me on top of my game and stay abreast of what was happening in the field. Then, just as I was about to rejoin through my consulting business, I won a free chapter membership when my business card was drawn at a PRSA networking event! I felt like it was destiny!
You have been in PR for more than a decade. Share a few ways it has changed over the years and where you see it going.
I’ve been working in public relations, in some capacity, for more than 15 years, but the last seven have been the most dynamic for me. I have been fortunate to experience so many facets of PR engagement — from social media to event planning, campaign designing, book promoting, website managing, media outreach, you name it! Now as I’ve launched my own PR and communications consulting business, I have the awesome opportunity to continue to support PR efforts in the same way as before but with a broader array of clients.
As I see it, there are two primary shifts going on in PR that are going to alter the profession in the coming years. First, there’s the merging of marketing and PR interests: The two have always worked in tandem together, but the lines between them are increasingly blurred. It’s more challenging than ever to differentiate between PR’s engagement with “the public” and marketing’s engagement with consumers. I’m not sure I know where it’s headed, but I think that we as PR professionals have to be just as savvy at marketing as we are at PR if we want to serve our clients well.
Second, there’s the issue of trust. We’re in an era of fake news versus real news and the fact that just about anybody can publish and share content and push it out to the masses. How do we know what’s truth? PR is fundamentally grounded in building solid, trusting relationships with our audiences and doing so through sound and ethical practices. People’s trust is at an all-time low. As PR professionals, that means we’re going to have to work extra hard to gain people’s trust, so we should always be authentic in our dealings.
Tell us about one of your most memorable experiences during your career.
One of the highlights of my PR career was working on a public health campaign called The Weight of the Nation. The campaign was based on a documentary series that HBO produced that explored the obesity epidemic, just as it was gaining more media attention, and it brought together several partners like the Institute of Medicine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and Kaiser Permanente.
The campaign involved so many moving parts — on-site events and movie screenings, speaking engagements, DVD kits, building a website to house the films, media outreach, internal communications, and finding effective ways to encourage people to take action on the film’s issues.
In the end, I think the campaign was a real success in further raising awareness about one of the most critical health issues of our time. But I do remember that I basically ate, drank, and slept to the tune of that campaign and all its logistics for several months.
What’s your best advice to the new generation of PR professionals?
Remember that PR is, at its core, about building relationships. To that end, be authentic in your dealings. Learn your strengths and lean into them. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. At the same time, never stop learning, because a good PR professional has to have a lot of tools and expertise at their fingertips these days. Hone your skills and then use those skills to be a force for good out there. I truly believe good PR can change people’s hearts and minds for the better. And the world really needs that more than ever!