Beginning a Career in Public Relations

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

“Prepare, Prepare, Prepare” – Words of Wisdom from Bernadette Morris, founder and chairman of Sonshine Communications

Bernadette Morris, founder and chairman of Sonshine Communications and president, owner and founder of Black PR Wire, Inc. called me from her cell phone last Tuesday afternoon while in traffic in Miami to have a conversation about PR, her career experiences and PRSA Houston’s PR Day, where she will serve as luncheon emcee on September 14.

Sonshine Communications is a full service public relations, marketing and advertising agency in Miami with billables in excess of $3.5 million, making it one of the largest Black-owned PR agencies in America. Bernadette also is the owner and founder of Black PR Wire, Inc., a premier news distribution company for Black media in the United States and the Caribbean.

She told me that she got to the office “late” that day because it was 4:45 a.m. when she arrived. She said, “My days usually start very early (I'm in the office between 4:30 - 5 AM), and they end relatively late (usually around 7 PM). I involve my entire family in my work life and that helps keeps somewhat of a balance.”

Bernadette said she has been involved in public relations since her college days and said the “defining moment" that prompted her to her start her own company was when she was presenting campaigns for the college deans to review as if her college's PR department was an agency. At the time, Bernadette was Associate Dean of Public Affairs at a local community college.

“It was such a joy to see the excitement of the client - the deans - as well as the creative team. I knew I could transform that synergy beyond the college setting,” she said.

It was this thought that caused her to never look back.

When asked what advice she would give to today's public relations students, Bernadette said she encourages students to “prepare, prepare, prepare” for their futures.

“I encourage students and professionals alike to really know their market and to be creative as possible. Step over your weaknesses to make them strengths and most importantly, prepare to culturally diversify yourself – learn to personally connect with other cultures.”

She continues, "Diversity is the art of identifying the unique and ever-changing cultures of today's society. A person really must embrace diversity with an open mind and a willing heart to connect with others and commit to change - because in the long run, it will produce a better and more creative you."

Bernadette says above all, she advises public relations professionals at all levels to have FUN.

Bernadette said that she values the idea of mentorship and encourages all public relations practitioners, especially those new to the field, to seek mentors.

“My innermost circle of admirers includes my parents, who are now with the Lord, and great mentors like U.S. Congresswoman Carrie Meek (retired), and Eduardo Padron, president of Miami-Dade College. Both have demonstrated the true essence of perseverance and endurance regardless of the obstacles that may appear to hinder your pathway to success,” said Bernadette.

Bernadette's company's motto is to be your B.E.S.T. - whereby you Bless, Edify, Share and Touch!

Don't miss the opportunity to meet Bernadette in person at PRSA Houston's Media Day on September 14 at the Hyatt Regency Downtown.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

PRSA Houston's PR Day Promises to Deliver Top-notch Speakers and Knowledge September 14, 2005

Even if you don't live in Houston, you won't want to miss PRSA Houston's PR Day on September 14, 2005 at the Hyatt Regency Downtown (1200 Louisiana). Full-day, half-day and luncheon registration options are available on the site at

This year's theme is "Breaking New Ground: PR Tools for Changing Times." We all know that the landscape of public relations is constantly evolving and this event will teach public relations practitioners of all ages new tools and theories that will break new ground in the PR field.

Featured speakers include:

Kyrie O’Connor, Deputy Managing Editor/Features at The Houston Chronicle

John Wagner, principal of Wagner Communications

John Sturtevant, The Writing Workshop

Luncheon Panel Moderator: Tony Wyllie - Vice President of Communications for the Houston Texans

John E. "Ned" Walker - Ned Walker is senior vice president of Worldwide Corporate Communications for Continental Airlines, Inc.

Also of interest to students and new professionals is the Fundamentals of PR Panel Discussion which takes place at 2:30. View the entire list of speakers and sessions here:


Thursday, August 04, 2005

Houston Public Relations Community Invited to Support National Kidney Foundation in Honor of David Monroe

I'm sharing a special request with the Houston public relations community this evening from Elly Trickett, deputy editor of PR Week, on behalf of the National Kidney Foundation.

Elly is the fiancée of David Monroe, a veteran of the Houston public relations community, who passed away on Sept. 26, 2004 from an aneurysm. He was 31. David was born with a kidney defect, and after several surgeries as a newborn, led a full and healthy life. In his early 20s, he had a kidney transplant.

In Houston, David worked at de La Garza PR, and then went in-house to work first for Himalaya, and then for Cornell Companies. During this time he also was active in PRSA Houston, and volunteered his PR services to the Southeast Texas chapter of the National Kidney Foundation.

Elly, along with David’s sister, Rhonda Kelly, are leading a team of people to walk in the National Kidney Foundation's Southeast Texas chapter walk in Sam Houston Park on Sunday Sept. 18, 2005 in David’s name.

To walk with Rhonda and Elly on Team David, please go to and register, and enter “David Monroe” in the team name section. Then e-mail Elly at
Elly.Trickett AT to let her know that you will be joining them.

For those who would like to contribute, but are unable to come to the walk, there is a dedicated fundraising website to making donations in David’s name, at

If you are not in the Houston area, but would like more information about a Walk in your area, click here to view the 2005 Kidney Walk schedule by state.

Thank you for your support.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Are You 'Getting Things Done'? - The book that has changed my life

I'm dedicating this post to my boss, Ed Schipul of Schipul - The Web Marketing Company, for sharing the book Getting Things Done by David Allen with all of our staff. I read this book a few months ago and am re-reading parts of it. I've applied many of the techniques in the book and my stress level is MUCH lower. (Click here to read more and order the book!)

Allen presents the four D's to getting things done - those are Do it, Delegate it, Defer it or Drop it.

The place where this system has helped me the most is my email inbox! My boss has a rule that our inboxes can not hold more than 30 items at a time - and after reading this book, I freak out if there are ANY items in my inbox! That may sound insane, but here's what you do:

As soon as you receive an email, make a decision. Is it something that you can answer or find an answer in less than two minutes? If so, DO IT.

If it's not something YOU can address, DELEGATE IT to the appropriate person - co-worker, teammate, etc. (but hold THEM accountable to complete the task)

If it's something that is not going to be done today or even this week, DEFER IT to your task list (better known as your "next actions" list.)

And if it's something you know can't be done, or at least not this year, DROP IT - but not completely, if you don't want to. Allen suggests everyone create a "someday-maybe" list for those things we'd like to do in this lifetime - like parasail or swim across the Atlantic.

His point is that if we don't write things down, they circle in our minds (his "open loop" concept) and just cause more clutter and stress.

So, make your lists and each time you get a project - identify the NEXT ACTION associated with that project - for example, "get oil changed" is not a good list item if first you must call the garage and make an appointment or look up the address for the closest oil change location. So, the item on your list is actually "look up number for oil change location."

There's so much more - and email is just one example - so I encourage everyone to read this book and put it into action and Get Things Done!