July 1, 2013
Kathleen McGraw serves as the director of communications for Hershey Entertainment & Resorts (HE&R), an entertainment and hospitality company that enhances the legacy of Milton S. Hershey. She leads a team that represents the town of Hershey, Pa., that he created for employees of his chocolate company. They also promote HE&R’s multiple resort properties and entertainment venues.
Before coming to HE&R, McGraw was executive director and senior vice president at GolinHarris in New York. She is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire with a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in Spanish.
For Hershey, “the summer is about welcoming returning guests while meeting new ones experiencing ‘The Sweetest Place on Earth’ for the first time,” McGraw says. “Although we are a year-round destination, many visitors know us for Hersheypark, our family-friendly amusement park with over 65 rides and attractions.”
Name: Kathleen McGraw
After watching “Broadcast News,” I became fascinated with the news industry and wanted to be the next Oprah or Katie Couric. I practiced mock interviews with my dog who was well media trained! I guess it’s fitting that I ended up in PR.
Director of communications for Hershey Entertainment & Resorts
What changed (i.e. how you became interested in public relations):
Trusted family, friends and colleagues suggested I pursue the profession. Since I always enjoyed writing, public speaking, being creative and monitoring numerous news outlets, it made sense.
First public relations job:
At a local United Way organization, I got a taste for communications practices and event management and was hooked. I sent letters to several NYC-based PR agencies and landed at Martin PR.
What you know now that you wish you’d known then:
Everything happens for a reason. The agency world is cyclical and the communications industry will drastically change in the years to come — embrace new media and technology.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever received:
Public relations is a small industry — don’t ever burn a bridge and maintain a strong base of contacts. You never know when you’ll cross paths with someone in the future, so network!
Greatest professional accomplishment:
After renovations and a communications and marketing campaign, our team reopened Mr. Hershey’s iconic dining room at The Hotel Hershey with a new menu and design, as The Circular, celebrating the venue’s history, honoring our founder’s legacy and ushering in a new era of dining to Central Pennsylvania.
If you weren’t in public relations, you would be:
Either running my own morning coffee shop or practicing medicine — just like my dad
To be seen as a loyal daughter, friend and mentor — I hope that when someone thinks of me, they smile.
Make a “business case” for public relations:
Public relations excites, educates, generates awareness and builds anticipation for products, services and reputations. An IMC campaign can’t be successful without a thoughtful communications approach as it protects and elevates the brand.