This interview with Norita Taylor, APR may be the 12th Germinder20 Power of Pink Honoree story, but the order doesn’t matter. She’s one of those, “I’ll wait my turn type of people.” But, I certainly was eager to get to this interview. I’ve been in the agency business (ahem) a long time and been around many creative people and managers. Norita is a special combination of both. She isn’t flashy about her creativity, and she isn’t boastful about her ability to bring a public relations team together. But, oh does she deliver. And how. We talked about when might be the right time to write her story. The timing of October when the always spectacular Greater Kansas City PRSA chapter (GKC-PRSA) PRISM awards were behind her as president and the PRSA national conference was scheduled sounded good. She and her team won two prestigious PRISM awards – not a surprise. I’m sure there are still many more to come from this multi-talented woman that helped me and Germinder + Associates deliver. Now we get to celebrate her for a change. Thank you, Norita! — Lea-Ann Germinder, APR, Fellow PRSA
In many of the interviews we’ve conducted over the years, the person knew what they wanted to do at a very early age. This is especially true of veterinarians and journalists, public relations people not so much! How about you. When and how did you choose to study and ultimately go into public relations?
I think it was during college while doing internships. I had served one at a radio news station and really loved doing it, but I don’t really have a “radio” voice, plus it’s very competitive to get a job in radio. Moving to another market wasn’t really an option for me. My college advisor suggested I get with an alumni that was offering an internship in the PR department of a hospital. I did a couple of other internships similar to that and it was a classmate a year ahead of me that later led me to the agency where she worked. I felt comfortable speaking on behalf of others and pitching their stories and was thrilled when it resulted in something that made the client happy.
Can you tell us about the work you are doing now as Public Relations Director for OOIDA, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association?
I am the PR director for OOIDA, a trade association that represents truck drivers. These are mainly individuals with one truck operations or small fleets. We advocate for them in Washington, DC with regard to regulatory and legislative issues. I am charged with making sure both mainstream and trade media convey the messages that reflect the positions of our members on those issues.
What is the most important message you want to get across about the work that you do today?
Planning and inclusion is key to effective public relations. It will always be a challenge to communicate with management the importance of your role in the overall business plan, not just an occasional press release.
We share a commitment to volunteer leadership in the Public Relations Society of America. I was President of the Kansas City chapter when I launched Germinder + Associates, and you became President of the chapter this year. What has been the best part of this year?
The best past of being president is seeing how we can all pull together and focus on the top priorities and still create outcomes that make members feel good about the chapter. Despite the fact that we have far fewer board members and volunteers than previous years, this year’s PRISM Awards Gala was a smashing success! We reviewed past surveys and feedback from members and tackled what was most important to them while at the same time taking on only as much as we could handle.
What has been the biggest challenge of being President of the Greater Kansas City chapter of PRSA?
Volunteerism is down in other organizations and I know in other chapters and ours is no exception. We are down from previous years and we have been producing a less robust program than I’d like to see. I am hoping it’s a phase and that future board personnel will benefit from our work in keeping it all going.
On the plus side, what do you want people to know about the benefits of taking a leadership position in an organization like PRSA?
It’s a chance to use your creativity on behalf of our industry and make connections with people you otherwise would not have met. Those relationships can be valuable in the future in many ways. I think it’s a crucial step in a PR person’s career path to pursue community involvement and doing so for our own industry makes the most sense.
When you were an Account Manager at Germinder + Associates, we worked together on many significant projects in veterinary medicine. I always was impressed by your creative process to make ideas become a reality. Tell us how you made that work (and continue that process to this day!)
I was lucky to work with motivated coworkers as well as talented artists. Actively listening to the client was most important in getting insight to the core of a future program. Once you fully understand their challenges, then it’s a matter of researching and keeping things as simple as possible as far as presentation.
Another one of your strengths is team-building. What are the skill sets that you’ve learned to make you such a successful manager?
I honestly think this is an ongoing process and I think every situation is different. A given set of people have varying experiences and hopefully a person can use that to put the best foot forward in facing the challenges presented by a client.
How has public relations changed over the years?
Technology and social media have had a significant effect on changing how we communicate and how we receive feedback. That said, I also think that more organizations still recognize the need for strategic public relations for a variety of reasons, including crisis communications.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
While I no longer work in animal health, it doesn’t mean I don’t love pets! In fact, I’d like to introduce my pets to the Goodnewsforpets community. Brie was adopted from a local rescue that helps relieve the burden of shelters. She had been abandoned along with her 9 littermates in a storage tub, left behind by a bad breeder. The landlord heard them crying and took them to a shelter. Because they appeared to be a bully breed they were likely to be put down, but a local rescue took them in and adopted them out. We don’t know her breed, we think she is half mastiff and half Labrador retriever. We don’t know her backstory, but Sherman was also adopted from a local shelter.
To learn more about the GKC-PRSA chapter of PRSA, click here.