My Journey From PR Executive To Executive Coaching
As many of you know, I spent my first career in PR agency management and leadership, before shifting to executive coaching leaders and executives from PR, Corporate Communications, Marketing, Advertising and related communications fields.
I was honored when back in September, Corina Manea featured me in the NutsPR Spotlight to discuss my journey to PR, and from it to executive coaching.
First a little about Corina: She’s a PR professional and social media strategist, currently living in Madrid, Spain. Founder of NutsPR and with more than a decade in PR and client service, she is passionate about helping businesses connect with their audiences on social media. If you haven’t yet subscribed to Nuts PR, you really should!
I hope it brings you value, and a chuckle or two. (Especially the part about my auditioning to get into the BFA Acting programs at various colleges!).
Welcome to another NutsPR Spotlight interview!
I’m very excited to introduce to you this month’s guest: Ken Jacobs.
Ken and I haven’t met in person yet, but we’re hoping to correct that this fall. Stay tuned for lots of photos. 🙂
Passionate about public relations, after decades in the field, Ken decided a few years ago to switch gears and move into leadership coaching. But more on that later.
Ladies and gents, without further ado, I have the pleasure to introduce to you, Ken Jacobs.
When did you know PR was what you wanted to do?
It started, although unbeknownst to me, during my senior year in high school. I wanted to get a BFA in acting (I know, you’re shocked!)
My auditions didn’t result in the acting teachers standing up, applauding, and shouting “You’re In!” And thank God we didn’t have YouTube back then.
All the outstanding colleges for whom I auditioned sent me letters saying, politely
“Your acting sucks. But we’d accept you if you applied for communications, advertising, journalism, or public relations.”
In addition, the father of one of my best friend’s dad (Frank Roberts, nee Salners) was, among other careers, the PR guy for Carvel ice cream and its founder, Tom Carvel. He was a magnetic guy, and it seemed like a fun way to make a living.
I actually went to Syracuse University for a BA in acting, (apparently for that lesser degree, they didn’t take auditions into consideration!) but on the first day of registration, I realized I didn’t want to be an unemployed waiter and switched to the Public Relations program at the university’s prestigious S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
Apparently, they were a lot less stringent about whom they let in back then!
How does teaching help you learn? How do you like to learn?
One of my favorite lyricists, Oscar Hammerstein II penned the words “…from your pupils you’ll be taught” and truer words were never written.
I was an adjunct at both Fashion Institute of Technology (In their Advertising Marketing Communications program), and NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies when I first launched my consulting, training, and coaching business.
I was on my feet teaching for hours per week. My students taught me, and I mean this as a compliment, how little information an audience can really take in.
So the lesson for me as a trainer, public speaker, and presenter was present less information, but design it around what you want your audience to understand, remember, and retain.
And I also learned that if you want that aforementioned “understand, remember, retain” speak less, and encourage discussion among the entire group or smaller groups.
I realize I haven’t answered the first part of your question…
As for the second part, especially for learning new things around technology usage, I don’t like to learn by watching videos.
I like to have written bullets in front of me and I do each bullet one at a time until it gets set in my brain. I know that this makes me appear hopelessly old-fashioned.
Please excuse me while I go to my front porch and churn some butter.
What piece of advice do you have for anyone heading into the reality of PR?
The skill of solid business writing will never go out of style.
Understand business. Become fluent in emotional intelligence. Be a lifetime learner. And learn everything you can about leadership.
Remember that leadership isn’t necessarily about leading a large team, which might not happen for you for five or ten years, if at all.
It’s about getting the outcomes you want for your organization, your boss, your peers, and yourself.
As I’ve said many times, I’ve seen agency Senior AEs who are leaders (by my aforementioned definition) and Executive VPs who had the big salary, the corner office, but couldn’t lead themselves or anyone else out of a paper bag!
What would you like to change in the PR industry and think it can be accomplished this year?
I wish PR/Communications practitioners could be more confident about the value of what *we bring to our internal and external clients.
If we don’t believe in the value of what we do why should they? Our effectiveness will increase when our confidence does.
Can it be accomplished this year? Who knows. But I believe it’s an absolutely critical goal that will pay enormous benefits. We must start!
*I’m not exactly part of “the we”.
I left the PR/comm profession c. 2007. But my consulting/training clients are PR/Integrated Communications agencies, and my leadership coaching clients are PR/Corporate Communications/Marketing leaders and executives.
What’s next for Ken Jacobs?
I have two big goals for the year: 1) Build my corporate-facing coaching business; and 2) Use social in a smarter way to achieve goal 1!
This post first appeared on NutsPR on September 7, 2017