January 3, 2012
Peter Himler is founder and principal of Flatiron Communications LLC, a public relations and media consulting firm based in New York. Prior to founding Flatiron Communications, he served as chief media officer for Edelman Worldwide, following 11 years with Burson-Marsteller as head of the agency’s U.S. corporate and strategic media team and as its worldwide spokesman.
Himler blogs about public relations and media culture at The Flack, which PRNews named as the best industry blog in 2006.
Name: Peter Himler
After college, I aspired to get into the music business.
I run a New York-based PR/digital media consultancy called Flatiron Communications LLC
What changed (i.e., how you became interested in public relations):
I worked as an entertainment publicist in New York, handling mostly motion pictures and celebrities. I learned to love journalism and how stories cascade onto the national stage. I was hooked by the everyday machinations of the media.
First public relations job:
I wrote dozens of letters to try to land a slot at a record label. One PR person at Warner Bros. referred me to a small, but successful entertainment PR boutique in New York. I didn’t know what public relations was. I was offered the position.
What you know now that you wish you’d known then:
Small agency life offered an unparalleled hands-on learning experience.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever received:
I was fortunate to have some very smart mentors over the years. My first boss, Bobby Zarem, taught me how to be a publicist. George Glazer of Hill & Knowlton knew everything there was to know about broadcast media — from media relations to production to media training. Burson-Marsteller’s Al Tortorella was the best (and most engaging) crisis communications counselor one could hope to meet. Bob Dilenschneider, when he was CEO of Hill & Knowlton, was a big influence on my career. He taught me a lot about work ethic, and that is something I continue to think about today as I lead my own firm
And B-M's Harold Burson,APR, Fellow PRSA, and Chris Komisarjevsky instilled in me an enduring sense of ethics that guide me to this day. But I'll always remember Zarem chastising me for not doing something. I argued that he never tasked me to do it. He said I should've recognized and capitalized on the opportunity without him having to ask.
Greatest professional accomplishment:
I spent eight years leading the PR campaign to bring the World War II Memorial to life on Washington, D.C.’s National Mall.
If you weren’t in public relations, you would be:
A muckraking journalist or the founder of a digital music startup
My three sons
Make a “business case” for public relations:
I remain enamored with how stories catch fire. My clients desire a positive branded presence in the media, and a measurable business result. The media landscape and new avenues available to communications professionals to achieve this end have changed.