The beginning of a new year is a natural time to reset — to consider your successes and shortcomings from the last year and attack the new year with renewed vigor and passion.

For young communications professionals seeking inspiration for 2016, we present some of the wise words advice from the elite professionals who were honored by PR News at its annual “PR People Awards” luncheon last month.

Held at The National Press Club in Washington, DC, the luncheon celebrated the best and brightest of the public relations community, with a particular emphasis on “Rising Stars” – the “30 Under 30” communicators to watch from among PR agencies, corporations and associations. The full list of awardees may be found here.

Inducted into the PR News Hall of Fame this year were Karen Van Bergeron (Porter Novelli); Margery Krause (APCO Worldwide), Chris LaPlaca (ESPN) and Bob Pearson (W2O Group).


Advice for Success in a Communications Career

  • “Follow your gut. … At the slightest hint of success, we tend to run in the opposite direction. So stay focused. … Speak up – don’t ever be afraid to make your voice heard. … Don’t ever shy away from a great opportunity.” — Karen Van Bergeron, Porter Novelli
  • “Find, and cultivate, a good mentor.” — Margery Krause, APCO Worldwide
  • “The only thing that really matters is your reputation. You have to remember that every day. Do the best you can every day. Stay self-aware. And stay humble. My dad always taught me that any time you get an award, it’s really about your team.” — Bob Pearson, W20 Group
  • “You don’t have to change jobs to push yourself.” — Steve Goldstein, PR News

Most Valuable Skills for a PR Practitioner in 2016

Several other honorees were asked what they considered to be the most valuable skills or mindsets for junior or mid-level communicators in the coming year. They answered:

  • “Competitive analysis – learn what other companies are doing via their websites and on social media. Take the best of it and apply it to your own clients.” Austin Courtney, Susan Davis International
  • “Be passionate – make an impact every day.” Kimm Lincoln, Nebo Agency
  • “Solid communication skills will always carry you through.” Kelly Mahoney, CompTIA
  • “Entrepreneurship. Start your own firm. Just do it. I’m 31 and being honored here today. Go off and do it.” John Guilfoil, John Guilfoil Public Relations
  • “Focus on creativity rooted in strategy and multi-channel thinking to help drive engagement.” Pam Jenkins, accepting an award on behalf of Victoria Baxter, Weber Shandwick

Finally, our own Dale Curtis offers this advice:

I used to like the phrase, ‘Slow and steady wins the race,’ as in ‘how the tortoise beat the hare.’ But ‘slow and steady’ doesn’t cut it in today’s business environment. Now the expression should be ‘Aggressive, strategic, savvy and steady wins the race.’
— Dale Curtis, Dale Curtis Communications

What are some of your favorite words of wisdom for young PR professionals?