As Honolulu Star-Bulletin reporter–turned–humor columnist for 30 years, I had a skewed view of public relations. As a professional “ink slinger,” I usually only ran into “flacks”– as we called PR people – at the Columbia Inn “Round Table” drinking beer with three-dot columnist Dave Donnelly. They were trying to get something good about one of their clients in his column or, often, trying to keep something bad out.
Now I’m on the other side of the fence, as a senior writer for Communications Pacific (CommPac) for almost three years. My view of public relations, marketing and communications has changed, to say the least. As a writer I deal in communications over a vast landscape of issues and interests. Every day I find myself researching, writing or editing on accounts that include health care, tourism, education, land use, development, construction, utilities, environment, retail, charitable organizations, nonprofits and more.
Being a flack for me is exciting, intense and fulfilling. And just about as far from those guys hanging out at the Round Table as can be imagined.
At CommPac we are mainly problem solvers. Various clients have distinct needs, and just about all of our work is done confidentially. My writing can change by the minute. I can be working on a news release for a Fortune 500 company in the morning, a speech for a public figure at noon and by afternoon be working on a CommPac team trying to save someone’s business. In these days of instant communications, a company’s brand can be only one Twitter post from disaster.
There’s a big difference between what I did as humor columnist (trying to inform and amuse) and what I do today. People’s professional or financial lives can literally be at stake.
But there are many more uplifting moments of client work, where we help small companies become bigger and big companies become better. CommPac also works for a number of nonprofits that are doing the good work needed in a complicated world. And we try to let the world know of these folk’s good deeds.
Not all public relations firms have a full-time writer/researcher on staff. It’s one thing that sets CommPac apart from the others and something many of our clients have come to appreciate.