He answers to Jay or Jas, and while he admitted to me during this process that he is a romantic comedy softie, I chose not to reveal that…oops. Seriously, he is a good guy with a good sense of humor, smart and it has been a real pleasure getting to know him a bit over the last couple of years. If you don’t know him, take the next few minutes to see what you are missing.
Jas, you’ve have taken a very interesting career path, producer, director of comms at a university, PA announcer, agency PR, blogger and now president of your own comms agency. If you were talking to someone looking to get into PR / Comms, would you suggest they try to follow a similar path? Why or why not?
I would suggest they follow their own path. I don’t think anyone’s path to career success is the same. Sure, you can find inspiration from someone’s steps, but not one direction is similar. If you told me when I first started out in television that I’d be in PR and running my own business, I would have raised an eyebrow and kept going. It wasn’t even on my radar. Now, I can’t dream of doing anything else. And that is what students or those that want to make a change need to keep in mind. Your next challenge may not be in your view right now.
The best piece of advice I received was “Do it because you want to, not because you have to.” I want to do what I’m doing now. When I work because I have to, I’m going to find something more challenging.
What do all of your professional positions have in common?
They all required hard work, focus and passion. I’ve lost the passion for some jobs along the way, but never the hard work and focus.
The one position that I have to ask more about is the PA gig for the (former New York Mets Triple A affiliate, now Toronto Blue Jays), the Buffalo Bisons. How did you get into this?
I worked as the PA announcer for Niagara University’s men’s hockey team. A colleague heard that the Bisons were looking for a PA announcer, so I applied. I tried out a few weeks before the season began and was lucky to get the gig. I get paid to watch baseball. As a long time fan of the game, it doesn’t get any better than that.
Can you provide some insight into the behind the scenes part of this job? How much prep goes into this position?
I normally get to the ballpark an hour or so before gametime. I read the lineups, check the pronunciations and see if there is anything to be done pre-game.
What you hear (batter walk-ups, announcements, in-game promotions) is just a small part of the picture. Behind the scenes, it can get a little crazy. The greatest part though is working with an enthusiastic, fun team of people. They all love what they do.
We had the Triple A All-Star Game last season at Coca-Cola Field. It could get a little stressful because we were in the national spotlight on MLB Network. The Home Run Derby was another story, because I was the on-field host. It ended up being one of the greatest career experiences because of the event. But took a good amount of preparation, not just for me, but all those involved.
What would surprise people about being a PA announcer for a AAA team?
The fans are apt to call you on a screw up. I read a name wrong one time and I heard a fan below me say, “You read it wrong, man.” I actually leaned out the window and said, “Sorry about that!” The fan was surprised that I was that close!
If you could do anything (professionally) outside of PR / Communications, what would you choose and why?
I’d love to be an astronaut. Growing up, I wanted to fly on the Space Shuttle. I’ve always had this affinity for space exploration. So, if NASA is reading this, when you decide to head back to the moon or Mars, I’m in!
How did you get into public relations?
My wife and I decided to move to where she is from (a suburb of Buffalo, N.Y.) about six months after we were married. I wanted a change of lifestyle from the TV/radio hours. So, I started applying for PR jobs. Niagara University was looking for an assistant director of communications and PR and I was lucky to get the job. It took some adjustment, but looking back, it was a good job to get.
If you could change one thing about the PR industry, what would it be?
That is honestly a tough question. I think it would be for more of us to adapt much quicker to the changing times. We need to think ahead for clients, why not for our own industry?
How has PR/Comms industry changed in the last 5 years?
Two words: Social Media. Personally, if it wasn’t for social media, I wouldn’t be where I am today (and would not have met Paul Roberts, either!). OFFICIAL EDITOR’S NOTE: haha
What does PR/Comms industry look like in 5 years?
We’re going to see social media evolve. Facebook and Twitter will still be the standard bearers. But there is going to come a day, very shortly, where we will have one platform integrate all the good things of Facebook and Twitter, as well as Skype, for one true social experience. Imagine the snark then!
Did you pay much attention to the recent attempt by PRSA to redefine public relations? If so, what was your thought about the process, result and industry-wide discussion?
I absolutely paid attention. I even did a blog on it . I appreciated PRSA’s hard work in trying to get an all-encompassing definition. Was the result successful? I don’t know. I certainly haven’t heard a colleague refer to the “definition.” I thought the industry-wide discussion was great. I didn’t appreciate some of the really rough comments towards PRSA. It takes guts to try and take a stand. Or, in this case, define a practice. Discussion or debate is healthy.
What social media platform do you use (most) professionally?
Twitter is my go-to platform. It’s how I build my reputation and how I continue to build and get business. And is it different from what you use for personal? I blend by Facebook and Twitter use for personal and social. However, lately, I’ve ramped back on my use of Twitter for personal use.
Do you make any attempt to differentiate you personal from your professional social media persona? If so, how?
When I first launched my business, I used my personal Facebook and Twitter pages. Now, I have FB and Twitter for JRM Comm. Why? Because I wanted an outlet where clients, friends, and potential clients could go for information. It’s actually worked out well.
The best PR / Communications people you’ve ever worked with share what quality?
Honesty and sincerity. I’ve been lucky to work with and meet so many great people. They all are honest and sincere. People like Deirdre Breakenridge, Justin Goldsborough, and Valerie Simon. Each have the qualities I’d like future pros to emulate.
What advice would you give young professionals just starting out in this industry?
Never, ever let someone tell you that you can’t. But, never let someone sell you a job that isn’t right for you. Believe in YOU and your skills. And be honest with yourself.
Immediate reaction to the follow (in one or two words preferably):
Twitter: Game changer
Facebook: Standard bearer
Corporate blogs: Stiff
LinkedIn: Severely underrated
Social media: No longer a “fad.”
Public relations: adapting
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