Member Profile: Ron Rogers
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Pacific Sierra Region - McDonald's USA LLC
Why did you join PRSA and what is one of your favorite benefits that the organization provides?
I joined PRSA to help me better understand and stay aware of the latest trends and best practices in the PR/communications industry. The online resources and webinars have been great member benefits, along with the in-person networking events with peers.
You have been in PR for 20 years. Share a few ways it has changed over the years and where you see it going.
The biggest is obviously the media transformation that has taken place over the last 20-plus years. PR professionals today have so many ways to interact and share news with their customers/audience. A press release and a few phone calls is no longer the main way to relay your news. Digital media has provided more channels to reach your audience, with many options such as social media that provide direct communication. During this transformation, more companies have begun to view communicators as part of the leadership team and use the role to drive strategy, not just share it. No longer just speech and press release writers, today the PR/communications professional is looked upon to cover areas like corporate strategy, crisis management, internal communications, social media, leadership coaching, brand and corporate reputation.
Tell us about one of your most memorable experiences during your career.
As the communications lead for Diversity & Inclusion at Kaiser Permanente, I interviewed a Kaiser psychiatrist who won an award for her work with transgender patient care. During the course of her interview, we discussed her life story. Going into the interview, I was unaware that she was born a boy, but during our conversation she made the decision to come out and tell her story publicly for the first time. As an adult, she underwent gender reassignment surgery before transferring to a new region of the country to start her practice. Everyone at Kaiser had known her as a female for over 20 years until this story came out through the company’s Intranet. The interview received more Intranet page views and comments than any story in the company’s history, and the feedback was very supportive and reassuring to the psychiatrist. She was very happy that she used this medium to share her story.
What’s your best advice to the new generation of PR professionals?
Despite all the tools and resources, we have at our fingertips today, never forget that it’s all about relationships. Countless times throughout my career I was able to place a story that would not have been covered had it not been for the preexisting relationship I built with someone. When at all possible, build the relationship before you need to pitch a story. Find commonalities, ask about hobbies or family until you find that thing they enjoy talking about. That way when you call, they want to pick up the phone.