Public Relations


After a stint as a d.j. on the ss Rotterdam, then ssStatendam, then ss Volendam, and becoming an assistant to the cruise director, I moved to New York. There, I landed a dream job working for Cheryl Dolby, a highly motivated and extremely successful press representative who ran the theatrical press agency Merlin Group, LTD. Other than assignments in Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida, I wrote my first news releases, helped with media relations, and coordinated promotional events.

After leaving New York City after a “series of unfortunate events” (like the car being stolen), we moved to Sarasota, FL, where a dear friend offered his garage and spare bedroom as a place to land.

I started as an overnight announcer at a local radio station one night a week, on Sundays, for $60 a week. No, that’s not a typo. Since I had a degree in Broadcasting and Communications, I eventually got the Communications Director position—and I wrote everything that was spoken on air (commercials, announcements, etc.).

Utilizing what I learned at the Merlin Group,  I then joined a fledgling ad agency, and in addition to being the head copywriter, I created a public relations department to offer clients a “value add” along with the advertising budgets. The concept of public relations as the “brand” or corporate image was something most people thought only large corporations could do. Most clients thought (and many still do) that public relations means “news releases” and nothing more. This was when I began building successful image campaigns for companies working with organizations such as Mote Marine, Sarasota AIDS Support, Snooty the Manatee, Sarasota Ballet, Suncoast OnShore Grand Prix (later to become the Offshore Grand Prix), License to Bash.

It was a different time then. You could pick up the phone and contact a columnist or send something for possible pick up in the newspaper. And you could time it with your paid advertising campaign because often you’d know when the article would run. No really.

Integrated messaging is not new.

I always felt integrated messaging – that is, messaging where you leverage both earned media (news releases, features, interviews) and paid advertising (print, banner, billboard, radio, etc.)  – and helping build a company’s reputation through ethical means made an incredible amount of sense; it also helped shoestring budgets and new business launches.

My career became a hybrid of advertising and public relations. I created my first “integrated campaign” in 1988. Some tactics may be new, but the strategy’s been around for a while.