Q&A with Amy Parodi, APR

Amy Parodi, APR Amy Parodi is the Public Relations Senior Manager at World Vision.

We sat down with Amy to discuss her role at World Vision and what APR means to her.

What do you do at World Vision?

I am the public relations senior manager with World Vision. I to raise awareness about – and increase engagement with -- World Vision’s work in response to poverty and injustice around the world. I’ve been there for 15 years.

I have traveled to cover international disasters including the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and wars in Iraq, Liberia, the Gaza Strip, the Democratic Republic of Congo and northern Uganda.  I have managed campaigns on issues such as the use of children as soldiers, laborers and sex workers; public perceptions of people with HIV and AIDS, and the current Syrian refugee crisis.

Prior to joining World Vision in 2001, I taught high school English in Texas and Washington. I have a bachelor’s degree in English literature and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Trinity University, and an Accreditation in Public Relations. My husband, Nick, and I have three children and live in Federal Way.

What led you to join PRSA Puget Sound?

I joined PRSA shortly after I started my first job in PR. I studied English literature and secondary education in college and I spent the first few years of my career teaching high school. So when I started working in public relations, I was looking for ways to supplement my communications skills and education even as I was learning on the job. Having access to articles, webinars and experienced people really helped.

What do you like best about being a professional communicator?

What I love about communications is really what I loved about teaching: being able to influence people about important ideas.

In my professional context – at a faith-based non-profit – I get to be a part of driving people to care about things that they hadn’t cared about before. And that’s really fulfilling.

Sometimes problems, like the Syrian refugee crisis, are so big that it can be hard for people to get a handle on how to help. I really enjoy learning about what motivates people to help and what hang-ups keep them from engaging and then creating a journey to help them shape their views and their actions for good.

What leaders inspire you?

I work with some of the smartest, most amazing professionals – really, just the best all-around people. My former boss Steve is the personification of people leadership. I learned most of what I know about management from him. My current boss Johnny has such keen insight into the journey – how to get people from “here” to “there.” I learn something new from him nearly every day. And my teammates are such a fantastic mix of gifts and personalities.  They really represent the best of PR.

Outside of my own team, I find myself, oddly, inspired by Dominos (which is weird because their company is so different than the organization I work for). But I’ve loved watching them take a PR crisis and not just superficially change their company’s story, but take their publics on a journey with them as they completely transformed their company.

When did you received your APR?

I started studying for my APR with my teammate, Laura in January of 2014. I applied for accreditation in August 2014 and took my test last July.

Why did you decide to pursue your APR?

I had been knocking around the idea of getting my APR for a couple of years, mostly because I wanted to affirm – more for myself than anyone else – my expertise in PR, especially since it wasn’t something that I studied formally. 

Also, at the time, my organization had a somewhat limited view of public relations.  The organization depended really heavily on media relations alone to achieve its broader public relations goals. I was getting more interested in the broader practice of PR and I thought an APR might help me better understand that broader practice.

That said, life was always busy and it never seemed to be the right time.

Then, about two years ago, two things happened. First, my job changed and I found myself handling the only portfolio of issues on our team that I hadn’t handled before. There was really nothing new for me to do at that point and I was starting to wonder what was next for me.  Second, my teammate Laura started talking about getting her APR as well.

We were both pregnant at the time and had a long talk about whether we were crazy for even thinking about it, but decided that life wasn’t going to get any easier anytime soon so we might as well go for it! Honestly, there’s NO way I would have been able to finish it if I hadn’t been working on it with her.

What value has it brought to you?

Having an APR has been really valuable to me, not because it got me a promotion or a raise – it didn’t – but because of the confidence having the accreditation gave me and because of the opportunities that came up for me as a result of what I was learning.

I didn’t study PR formally, so going through the APR process both affirmed what I had learned on the job over the previous decade and a half, and filled in learning gaps with some theory that I hadn’t been exposed to.

More tangibly, I was able to speak into changes that needed to happen in my organization with regard to public relations.  My boss Johnny had just started on the team and had the kind of comprehensive PR experience that I wanted to have. Because of what I was learning, I was able to talk to him about the changes we wanted to recommend with a vocabulary and a framework that represented best practice.

In fact, I got to work with him on the first comprehensive public relations strategy our organization has had. If I hadn’t been working on my APR at the time, I might not have gotten the opportunity to work on that plan – and I certainly wouldn’t have been able to contribute to it in the same way.

What’s your biggest word of advice for people considering accreditation?

If it’s something you want to do – just do it.  There’s never a perfect time for any ambitious endeavor, but you can always find time to do the things that are important. Really, you can’t fail – even if you have to take the test again, the process itself is beneficial and there are always opportunities to try again.

What do you do when you’re not at work?

Well, I have three kids ages 12, four and 22 months - and a husband who runs his own company – so a lot of what I do right now revolves around my busy family: soccer games, preschool field trips, birthday parties, and driving ... so.much.driving.  I’m kind of in that “rockin’ the suburbs” phase of life (although, fortunately, we’ve managed to avoid owning a minivan).

But someday when I have time to have hobbies again, I’d like to get back into at least a couple of things I enjoyed when I had free time and adequate sleep: tennis, rowing and kayaking, playing the piano, traveling, hiking and reading books that aren’t only about work or parenting.

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