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On the Case With…

Each month, as part of “The Business Case for Public Relations,” PRSA asks an industry leader to reflect on his or her career and make a “business case” for public relations.

More from “On the Case With…”

On the Case with Rita Brogan


July 1, 2014

Rita Brogan is the founder and chief executive officer of full-service communications agency PRR. She purchased the agency in 1989, which currently has offices in Seattle, Washington, D.C., Austin, Texas, and Norfolk, Va.

Brogan worked on the national agenda as a social activist after Jimmy Carter appointed her to the National Commission for the Observance of the International Women’s Year in 1976. Later, she worked as a legislative assistant to several elected officials, served as chief land use adviser for the King County Executive and was the superintendent of public transportation development at Seattle Metro.

She is an advocate for human-powered change.

“Communications competence will be the single most influential factor in the economic success of any business that operates in the 21st century,” she says, adding that the many disciplines will require strategic integration.

“Communications competencies can no longer be isolated into separate silos. ‘PR’ is no longer synonymous with just ‘media relations’ and media relations has less and less to do with journalism. The consideration of communications ethics is much more nuanced than it ever has been, and not just in the purview of the communicator, but also among those who receive the communications.”

Name:

Rita Brogan

Childhood ambition:

This changed from year to year — I was inspired by the story of Marie Curie and planned to be a nuclear physicist; I became interested in residential architecture and started collecting a notebook of floor plans; I considered medicine after winning two junior fellowships.

Current livelihood:

President and chief executive officer of PRR

What changed:

My exposure to the sciences led me to realize how much detail and drudgery is involved in science and medicine. I could not compartmentalize or objectify the pain of others. Another was the activism of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s around the war, civil rights and the environment. I got swept away by the idealism of the era, which led me to journalism and public affairs.

First public relations job:

A freelance copywriter, which was a way I supported my undergraduate career — I wrote brochure copy for organizations.

What you know now that you wish you’d known then:

How important it is to respect and nurture your relationships with people

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received:

My best advice was from a colleague who suggested that I start my own communications consulting business.

Greatest professional accomplishment:

PRR has been my greatest professional accomplishment, providing my colleagues and me a way to direct our talents to serve the greater good — advancing the health of our environment, communities and people who live in them.

If you weren’t in public relations, you would be:

Running a nonprofit

Desired legacy:

That PRR continues to access and evolve all the tools of communications to help people better manage their own destinies

Make a “business case” for public relations:

A business can’t operate in a communications vacuum. Its internal and external relationships define whether that organization continues to have public support and grow its customer base.

 



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