Engaging as a trusted advisor

Corporate communications and PR is an exciting, dynamic profession. I operate on the cutting-edge of issues, opportunities, and challenges with the power to shape ideas, forge opinions, and advance socio-cultural dynamics.

As a successful, senior-level communicator, I am considered a counselor, thought leader, and trusted advisor. Although I once thought this stature was out of reach, I have arrived at a revered and welcome place that guides my point of view.

My career has included experiences working in journalism, a PR agency, and the maritime and oil & gas industries. My fascinating assignments have ranged from media relations and crisis communications to campaigns focused on preventing drug use among youths to corporate change management.

Learning from other leaders

I now recognize my good fortune even more clearly – I’ve learned from the best. Early in my career, I observed and experienced world-class leadership through the examples of public relations industry titans Argentina JamesAudrey GilbreathEffie Booker-DennisonPamella Thorne, and others. They showed me firsthand what leadership looks like: uncompromising ethics, integrity, good judgment, and guts. They taught me how to counsel clients and make tough decisions, to inform, and influence – in other words, how to lead.

My turning point on the road to becoming a trusted adviser came when Argentina James was named Vice President of Public Affairs at the Port of Houston Authority. She made Communications Manager on her leadership team, reporting to her directly. It was then that I realized my perspective was highly valued.

Under Argentina’s leadership, I spearheaded the port’s branding and public awareness media campaign to broaden the organization’s narrative beyond a controversial cargo terminal expansion project. Using multiple internal and external communication channels, I amplified messaging and storytelling to highlight the port’s initiatives in economic and small business development, environmental stewardship, community engagement, global trade, and maritime security. Cultivating strong media relationships enabled me to achieve record levels of editorial coverage of proactive and reactive matters tied to challenging, time-sensitive port issues. Collaborations with my community relations and government relations counterparts helped mobilize stakeholders as advocates, deescalate organized opposition, and mitigate the impacts of lawsuits.

Through Argentina’s example and those of other leaders — at the Motiva Port Arthur Refinery, through PRSA, IABC, other professional organizations and peers I am fortunate to call friends — I’ve experienced leadership up-close. Those experiences inform who I am today and shape my point of view. In retrospect, I realize that the role of trusted adviser had been forming in me for a long time.

The insights I’ve gained along the way include:

  • Be curious. It’s much more important to be interested than interesting.
  • Have and share a point of view. Doing so builds credibility and self-confidence.
  • Be authentic. When I’m comfortable in my own skin, it allows other to be, also.
  • Shape an organization’s culture. Recognize and navigate its current state and then positively influence its future.
  • Be a servant leader. Invest in the common good by improving lives and strengthening communities.

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