Are you interested in crisis communication or digital strategy? Trevor Steele will be joining us tonight to explore a few topics PR practitioners tend to overlook within the broader theme of crisis communications and digital strategy. We asked him a few questions to get to know him a little better before our meeting.
Q: How did you begin your career in the public relations industry?
A: I haven’t met a six year old who says “I want to work in PR when I grow up.” Perhaps this will change someday, but it certainly wasn’t my original life goal. I worked in professional politics through high school, college and a couple years after graduating from college, during the start of the recession. In college, I studied political science but found that communication studies had all the action. After a few years as a lobbyist, I opted to go into communications full time. I’ve never looked back.
Q: What is your favorite part about working in an integrated agency practicing PR?
A: I love the variety of the work I do and the skills each member of the team brings to a problem. I have an opportunity to work with incredibly creative designers and skilled account managers who bring different experience to the table. As part of an integrated agency, I have the freedom to look at both paid and earned media, and choose the best tool for the situation. This is the biggest benefit of an integrated agency practice.
Q: For students interested in crisis communication, what is one piece of advice you would give them?
A: The “rules” for crisis don’t differ as much as one might expect from most other types of PR, but things often happen faster. The best advice I can give is to come on Wednesday and ask questions. One other piece of advice: train yourself out of “writer’s block.” Writing is the one skill you can develop in school and apply to any situation in PR. Being able to write on command is crucial.
Q: When it comes to social media, what do you foresee its affect on the PR industry in the next five years?
A: Social media touches on so many different areas of an organization. Public relations is in the best position to take advantage of the changes in social media, but it requires an industry-wide approach. Don’t discount traditional media, but look at an integrated approach that blends traditional and digital into what is quickly becoming a “traditional” environment. Note that this is different from social media, which is also critically important. Social media is a little strange in that it is upsetting both marketing and PR, but ultimately I think PR will win out.
Q: What skills do you think students will need to embody when entering the post-graduate world?
A: Flexibility. Be ready to explore different areas with your career, and avoid getting locked into any one thing. That said, I also really want to see students pursuing their passions. At the end of the day, communications is a critical part of any industry and any effective organization. Look for the opportunity to pursue your passion using the skills you have acquired in school. Look for opportunities to continually learn and grow, but don’t lose sight of what makes you tick and what you want to do.
About Trevor Steele
Trevor came to Funk/Levis to help as a political strategist for the Lane Community College Bond campaign. His work to message, galvanize volunteers and implement outreach was an important part of the success of the campaign. Trevor returned to Funk/Levis in 2009 to help work with LTD in doing outreach to key influentials for the West Eugene EmX project. Trevor is heading up our Strategic Digital Communications department focusing on new media and social integration into branding campaigns.
Trevor graduated from Lewis & Clark College with a degree in political science and communications and from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism with a Master of Arts in Strategic Public Relations. During his time in Los Angeles, Trevor was hired by the Milken Institute where he developed and ran the Institute’s social media program and developed new digital communication tactics.
Abbie Mulligan, President, serves as the chapter’s resource and mentor, for our members and the executive board. When she’s not in Allen Hall, you can find her helping to strengthen the university’s relationship within the community. Follow her on Twitter at @abbsmulligan.