[This is a Philly PRSA blog dated Feb. 16, 2010. To comment: larry@larrylitwin.com]


by Amy Merves, public relations, healthcare, and media professional and PRSA Philly Chapter Publicity/Web site Chair

Welcome to “Meet the PR Pro,” a new column designed to highlight professionals in the PRSA Philly chapter through conversations that reveal career paths, industry advice, and a touch of humor. For this edition, we interviewed Michael Gross, vice president of public relations with Jack Horner Communications and PRSA Philly’s 2010 president.

Can you describe your daily responsibilities at Jack Horner Communications?
Generally speaking, my job is twofold. First, I oversee many elements of the firm’s accounts, such as plan execution and making sure our clients get the best work and the best results. Second, I have leadership responsibilities as the supervisor of our PR and creative team.

What was your first PR position after college?
I was hired by Cherry Hill Township following an internship with the municipality. There, I worked in the recreation department planning the township’s events. We planned more than 60 events a year and my job involved everything from organizing event logistics to speech writing to media relations.

What newspapers/blogs do you read on a daily basis?
I get most of my news online. I wake up to www.cnn.com for national headlines and www.kyw1060.com for local news. Then, throughout the day, I follow most major news outlets’ Twitter feeds for breaking news and current events. I often read the hard copy of The Philadelphia Inquirer, too. And for fun, I follow www.myextralife.com, which is a fun blog (and podcast) for the other stuff I’m into.

What are your top three favorite books?
The geek in me still loves the “Lord of the Rings” series by J.R.R. Tolkien. “The Road” (Cormac McCarthy) is great. And I’d be remiss not to mention “The Public Relations Practitioner’s Playbook” by Larry Litwin, APR, Fellow PRSA. It’s a great tool for any PR pro, no matter what level of experience.

What advice do you have for anyone entering the PR field?
Network, network and network. Our industry is all about building relationships.

What is the top goal that clients have in mind when they hire a PR company?
Results. Everyone is looking for results. We as PR practitioners are, in essence, sales people. We’re selling ideas, concepts, stories, etc.

What is a common misconception that people have when they think of PR?
I can’t tell you how many students tell me they got into PR because they are “people persons.” While it’s nice to like people, PR is more about strategy — understanding attitudes, opinions and behaviors and knowing how to move the proverbial ”needle” by persuading or influencing an audience. Being good at PR takes a bit more than being a ”people person.” Rant over. Oh, and we don’t “spin.” We “position.”

Outside of work, how do you enjoy spending your time?
Wait, there’s time of outside of work? Just kidding. I enjoy spending my time with my family (boring answer, but it’s true). I also love the outdoors, so I fill the rest of my spare time hiking, fishing, camping, etc.

What was the best advice you received when you were just starting out in your career?
The best advice I got when I started out was to “speak up.” Don’t be shy. Go out, meet people. If you have an idea, express it. The only way to get ahead is to find a way to be heard. Hopefully at least some of your ideas are good ones!

What is the funniest PR story that you have read?
Have you heard the one where a news release, a brochure and a newsletter walk into a bar?