February 1, 2011
James Donnelly is senior vice president, crisis management at Ketchum with experience in issues/crisis management, crisis training, communications training, corporate public relations and global corporate communications. He works out of his home in Charlotte, N.C. where he says he has a better chance to improve his 12-handicap in golf.
Name: James Donnelly
I wanted to be James T. Kirk, Captain of the USS Enterprise. Maybe I still do — just to get access to that great commander’s chair. And a phaser.
I’m one of the three senior leaders of the New York-based specialty team.
What changed (i.e., how you became interested in public relations):
As an intern reporter on the city desk of a Connecticut newspaper, I asked my editor about journalists’ pay. She said,“If your focus is money, you should consider public relations.” She was right — by about 2 percent.
First public relations job:
I joined another PR agency and then Ketchum as a global internal communicator and “affiliate liaison,” not a PR professional.
What you know now that you wish you’d known then:
I remember meeting with new business prospects called Cisco and Oracle — and a colleague advising me to buy some stock in these small companies. I didn’t. I think he’s retired now.
Best piece of advice ever received:
Don’t slow-play pocket aces — in cards or in life.
Greatest professional accomplishment:
When clients no longer need our team’s help with crisis preparedness or crisis management — they’ve embraced everything we offered and now can do it themselves
If you weren’t in public relations, you’d be:
Dead broke, chasing a dream of carrying a PGA Tour card — or carrying clubs for a PGA Tour player
Is there a “60 under 60?”
Make a “business case” for public relations:
How long would a submarine last if it didn’t have radar, a periscope or a system to communicate with other vessels or ports? Not long. The same goes for any organization that does not have a Chief Reputation Officer — in title, or in practice — or a well-organized PR department.