Gorkana Meets...Heather LaMarre

Published: May 30, 2014

The thing that gets me up in the morning is…my family and the Introduction to Public Relations class I teach at 8:00 a.m.

What made me want to get into PR was...my first public affairs job in the Mayor’s graduate internship program in Columbus, OH. I was assigned to work with the Mayor’s Public Information Officer and the Council Chief of Staff. I fell in love with external communications and media relations almost instantly. I had previously worked in a corporate environment, but that experience really gave me the opportunity to get involved with a variety of public relations functions. I learned about community relations, media relations, public affairs, and political communication during my internship. The experience helped me realize that I loved external relations work across a variety of issues and contexts. It really changed my career trajectory, and I am very grateful for that experience.

If I could change one thing about the industry it would be…to increase the collaborations between industry and academics. Many of us (professors) have a wealth of industry experience that drives our research interests, and we often research issues and problems facing our professional fields. This information could be quite helpful to corporate communicators, non-profits, and agency professionals. If we partnered more often we could share this information and learn what new challenges industry faces. In turn, we could tailor our research to meet the growing need for quality research.

My greatest inspiration is…my father. He raised my sister and I after my mother died at an early age from cancer. His advice was to educate myself as much as possible, stay current and relevant to my profession, work hard, remain honest and fair, and be thankful. He is probably the most ethical and generous person I have ever known, and he is definitely the smartest!

The three things I demand in my colleagues...honesty, integrity, and fairness. If I could mention a fourth, it would be kindness. I think in today’s world, we often forget to stop, take a deep breath, and be kind to one another.

The PR figure I most admire is...That is a difficult choice. Of course Betsy Plank hits the top of the list, along with Edward Bernays. They were both committed to educating the next generation of PR professionals, which is something I consider essential to our field.

I always thought I’d be…an executive. I always took a leadership role in everything I did growing up. I was on a clear path toward leadership in my professional career as well. When I decided to change course and become a professor everyone was in shock (especially my former boss). I never expected how much having two children at a fairly young age would change my priorities or my career path, but I love what I do and I am happy as a Professor.

I’m a closet reader of…Malcolm Gladwell books. I love how his mind works. I am just amazed that he thinks about the world in such interesting ways.

The most interesting fact about me is...my husband and I eloped. We were married in Sedona, AZ in 1997.

My most prized possession is…my Ph.D. My family is the most important thing in my life, but if I had to pick a prized possession it would be my doctorate degree. It was really difficult to earn a doctorate while raising two young children, so I feel that was a big accomplishment in my life.

The finest moment in my career so far is...receiving my first scientific journal publication. It wasn’t my best or most defining work, but it was a milestone that I will always cherish.

If I won the Mega Millions I would...pay off the mortgages for all my family members, fund college accounts for all my nieces and nephews, and take time off to write a book. Is that too practical? I would also throw a huge party and take a vacation with my husband.

In five years’ time PR will be...data driven and fully integrated with advertising. We are headed into a time where public relations, advertising, and marketing communications are merging into “strategic communication”. I also think that popular culture media such as social and entertainment media will continue to alter how organizations relate to their publics.

What I hope to achieve at the 2013 PRSA International Conference...is to impress upon the professional field the importance of understanding the new rules for corporate political behavior and social advocacy. Emergent media such as social media and political entertainment are rapidly changing how much influence key publics and advocacy groups have in shaping brand reputations, influencing legislative and regulatory policy, and persuading publics. I hope to share research that demonstrates why organizations need to develop new strategies and tactics for achieving public affairs, government relations, and issues management goals.

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