February 28, 2013
Tom Schroder is vice president, corporate communications, Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Parks & Resorts. He serves as the key communications leader for Universal Orlando’s media relations efforts, social media strategies and crisis and issues communications. He also plays a leadership role in international public relations and brand and reputational management for Universal Parks & Resorts’ global business.
Schroder joined Universal Orlando in 1996 as a senior representative and has helped lead some of the biggest PR campaigns in Universal’s history, including the grand opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. He was a print journalist and has worked in the travel/tourism, banking and communications industries. Schroder holds a B.A. in journalism from Hofstra University and lives outside Orlando with his wife and daughter.
Regarding his ideal spring break, Schroder says, “Since Universal Orlando Resort is a popular spring break destination, my second most ideal spring break would involve being surrounded by nature — mountains, trees and water.”
Name: Tom Schroder
Our family had a lot of police officers and firefighters, so those were my earliest ambitions. By high school and college, I was looking at journalism — and was lucky enough to realize that dream.
I do corporate communications for Universal Orlando Resort.
What changed (i.e. how you became interested in public relations):
After several years as a print journalist, I was ready for something else. I was craving more direct involvement in the stuff of life as compared to the observer role that often comes with being a journalist. I remember thinking the hours would be better. That seems hysterical now.
First public relations job:
I worked as a writer for the American Automobile Association and then moved to a more complete PR role where I began to learn about travel/tourism.
What you know now that you wish you’d known then:
Greatness comes from collaboration.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever received:
Don’t accept mediocrity — beginning with yourself.
Greatest professional accomplishment:
I have been part of many exciting things, all of which have come from the combined work of incredible people. But the grand opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort will always stand out. We had an amazing story, smart strategy and tactics, and wonderful results.
If you weren’t in public relations, you would be:
The answer changes with every daydream — maybe a lawyer, maybe a social worker, maybe just riding my bike someplace.
I’ll leave my legacy to others. I’m going to stay focused on doing the best, most imaginative work I can.
Make a “business case” for public relations:
In a time when your business can be on YouTube in seconds and traditional advertising and media are rapidly changing, businesses need communicators who can help them break through the noise and have conversations with audiences who matter. And the results can absolutely impact the bottom line.