Media Relations Experts Speak to Marist M.A. in Communication Graduate Students
The Marist College School of Communication and the Arts hosted a special M.A. in Communication speaker series event on the evening of May 7, 2014. The event, organized by graduate students in my COMG 503 Media Relations course, took place through a telephone conference call. During the call public relations executive Mr. Justin Meise, Hopewell Junction, N.Y., and veteran journalist and book author Mr. Ed Offley, Panama City Beach, Fla., joined COMG 503 students in an hour-long discussion of media relations ethics, principles, and practices.
Use this link to download and listen to a one-hour podcast of the entire event. This recording contains valuable knowledge, keys to success, and important principles of communication from the unique perspectives of a seasoned public relations practitioners and a veteran journalist. Contradictory to anecdotal stories about conflicts between spokespersons and journalists, Mr. Offley and Mr. Meise described two professions that were remarkably similar in terms of missions, measures of success, and principles.
Ed Offley and Justin Meise
Mr. Offley reported for the Norfolk Ledger-Star (sister paper to the Virginian-Pilot), the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and the News Herald; and he served as editor-in-chief of the online news magazine, DefenseWatch. He is also co-founder and director of the Military Reporters and Editors Association. He is currently employed full time as an accomplished book author, with several titles under his name: Pen and Sword, Scorpion Down, Turning the Tide, and Lifting the Fog of War. His most recent book, The Burning Shore, was just released in March and has already received positive reviews.
Mr. Meise is principal partner with River Communications Inc., a public relations and marketing firm for clients in the financial sector, based in White Plains, N.Y. He has provided strategic communications counsel to a diverse range of financial organizations like Citi, Merrill Lynch, Prudential Securities, iShares, and BNY Mellon’s Pershing division. Justin is also a seasoned crisis communications manager and media trainer. He is a Marist College alumnus, a member of Public Relations Society of America and its Counselors Academy, and a licensed private pilot.
Mr. Offley urged participants in the conference call to follow norms of “human life,” or universal principles that unite rather than divide communication professions. He attributed success as “a military reporter dealing with an institution that by in large was suspicious of people like me” to remaining committed to “give and take, honesty, showing empathy for the other side of the story, even though the other side of the story was in a bad way.” Also, he “found that human connections were a lot more important than degrees or credentials [and] showing up was everything.”
In his closing remarks, Mr. Offley recommended, “Do what you love, know what … you are doing, study every day, study your client, study his products, study this chaos out there that we call social media…. and the big thing is this, that we are interacting, we’re trying to provide information, context … hopefully a winning argument; and you do it by knowing your subject and delivering whatever you deliver as honestly as you can.”
Mr. Meise offered similar advice. When relating with employers, clients, or journalists, let them “know that there is a real person there, that you are committed to whatever it is you are doing, and that you are passionate … that you care.” He also urged conference participants to “be easy to work with, be supportive of the people around you, find reasons to be enthusiastic about them, and give them reasons to be enthusiastic about you.”
In his closing remarks, Mr. Meise stressed the importance of being a voracious reader, approaching your field with an attitude that you will learn as much as you can, become an accomplished writer, and establish yourself as one of the leading experts and critical thinkers in your field.
NOTE: Mr. Offley recently spoke about his latest book, The Burning Shore, to an audience at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. The cable channel C-Span will rebroadcast Mr. Offley’s presentation on Saturday, May 10, at 9:20 p.m., and again on Sunday, May 11, at 2:00 p.m. Check C-Span listings for a schedule of future broadcasts and streaming video of this presentation.