APR Q&A: Getting to Know Randy Hurlow, APR, VP Public Relations and Consumer Engagement, 206inc.

David Blandford, APR Tell us about your role and responsibilities.

I lead the 206inc.’s Seattle-based accounts, as well as the agency’s media relations and social media practice. The bulk of my client work involves a combination of consumer engagement, community partnerships and strategic communications – with the support of a very talented team.

How did you get started in PR?

I first considered public relations as a career while a student at Western Washington University. Unfortunately, at the time there wasn’t a formal PR program, so I developed my own through a combination of speech communications, journalism and marketing coursework. After graduating, PR jobs were difficult to find in Seattle, so I did all I could to immerse myself in PRSA (even volunteering to greet people at the monthly luncheon meetings) – and was the start to some of my longest and most cherished professional relationships. Through this networking, I landed my first position with the American Cancer Society – beginning as a field representative organizing volunteers, planning large-scale fundraising events and community programs, and leading media outreach. This work led to my eventual promotion to the ACS’ statewide Director of Communications, Marketing & Public Issues – a role that I held for five years, and set me on my career path which included serving as President of the PRSA Puget Sound Chapter.

What are you working on right now?

Working for one of the country’s premier experiential agencies, I have the privilege of working with some of the world’s greatest brands including Coca-Cola and Levi’s. I’ve also recently wrapped up some exciting projects here in Washington including Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG, Laird Norton Wealth Management’s Pianos in the Parks, Amazon’s partnership with Mary’s Place, and Delta Dental of Washington’s Smile Power campaign bringing authentic surprise and delight moments to people in communities across the state.

Why did you pursue your APR?

The APR accreditation was important to me because the professionals I admired most were accredited, and because I didn’t have an actual public relations degree I thought it would help round-out my education and training. It did just that, and it is a great example of PRSA serving both the profession and the professional.

What value has it brought you?

The accreditation process taught me the rich and evolving history of our profession, professional ethics, and the professional standard for public relations planning – how to write goals, objectives, strategies, tactics, budgets and timelines. I use these learnings every single day – and was the single best investment I’ve made with regard to professional development.

What PR strategy is really working for you?

From a career perspective, my personal strategy since starting out was that by the end of my professional career I wanted to work in agency, corporate, nonprofit and government sectors – as well as to work internationally. I’ve been very fortunate to have worked in each of these sectors (though government has been through client work, rather than working directly for a government entity) and internationally leading public relations in the launch of the Euro across the 12 nations that adopted the currency in 2001. In the process I’ve had the pleasure of working with likes of Downtown Seattle Association, Publicis, REI and Virginia Mason Medical Center. The varied experiences have served me, my employers and my clients well.

What is the best tool, app, website, book, or other resource that other PR pros MUST check out?

For the sheer convenience, I appreciate the AP Style Guide and PRSA Ethics mobile apps. I also really like a book I’m currently reading -- Nail ‘em by Eric Dezenhall. The book examines strategies for confronting public attacks against companies and celebrities by headline seekers – it’s a great read and a useful tool.

Where do you find inspiration?

I find my greatest professional inspiration by surrounding myself with creative, strategic and scary smart people.

What excites you about PR these days?

Perhaps what excites me the most about PR these days, is also the biggest challenge. With so many communications channels, platforms and interactive devices – the opportunities are endless, and the need to be highly strategic has never been greater.

When you’re not working, where can we find you?

In my spare time you’ll find me out hiking, kayaking and relaxing at my beach cabin. I’m also a huge Seattle sports fan, a political junkie, an avid movie goer and I love TV reality shows.

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