Member Profile: Stephanie Barnes
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.
Why did you join PRSA and what is one of the membership benefits you enjoy the most?
The media landscape is constantly changing, so access to bright minds and thought partners is essential for comms professionals today. I enjoy having the opportunity to connect with others in the field to hear about what’s working, what’s not working and the innovative approaches being implemented.
You have been in PR for many years. Please tell us about your work at Pandora and the industries you’ve worked in over your years of experience in the field.
Tech PR is a far cry from where I started when I first got out of college but it’s been a seriously fun ride so far. My first client was the world’s largest semiconductor foundry and I remember thinking there was no way I was ever going to understand Moore’s Law and things like 90nm and 32nm. Now, almost 10 years later, I’ve worked with startups, mid-size and Fortune 50 companies that produce everything from solutions for data deduplication to PCs to a completely personalized radio listening experience. And my work with Pandora is shaping up to be one of the most exciting chapters yet. It’s an incredible time to work in the streaming music space. Consumers have never had more options, the music industry is going through an incredible transformation and tech companies are fighting for talent and working to tackle things like workplace diversity. I’m fortunate that on any given day the projects I’m involved with or conversations I’m having could involve any of those topics. It definitely keeps it interesting.
Please share a few ways the industry has changed over the years and where you see it going.
I started working in PR a year before the iPhone was introduced and just as Twitter and Facebook were gaining traction and amassing huge audiences. The advent of those things changed how we communicate with the media, changed the dynamics of a news cycle and how news is spread and proliferates. As a result, the expectation that companies are transparent, have a clear message and stay focused has increased markedly and consequently, raised the bar for communications professionals. This is a good thing. For those of us already in the industry, it means we have new things to learn and skills to acquire or hone. And for the next generation of PR professionals, it’s never been a more exciting time to pursue a career in communications.
Tell us about one of your most memorable experiences with a client.
I don’t know that any of my memorable experiences involve a particular event or interaction. But I have very fond memories of working with a client where the relationship was a true partnership. Our team was an extension of their internal team and we were a well-oiled machine. Folks on both sides have since gone in different directions, taken new jobs or moved out of PR all together. But the relationships remain and for me personally, created a standard for teamwork that I’m continually looking to build or foster with any team I’m on.
What’s your best advice to the new generation of PR professionals?
Accept that you have to pay your dues but look at it as an opportunity to master the basics. No matter your title or level, being great at the basics always matters and will always be noticed / appreciated. Be responsive. Not answering someone’s email sends a strong message and not typically the one you want. And finally, don’t be afraid of ownership and accountability. You learn when you’re willing to step up and own something.