Megan Helmer: ‘Has it really been six years?’
Last week, LinkedIn notified me it was my anniversary with PR Associates, so I took a bit of time to reflect on the last six years.
I started at PR Associates as an Account Manager specifically to work on a mining project facing opposition from concerned community members. At that point, I had been a communicator for more than ten years and felt the whole job was rather formulaic: understanding your stakeholder plus delivering an effective message equaled desired stakeholder action.
Let me put my coffee down while we all laugh uncontrollably.
I very quickly learned how heterogeneous even a “group” of stakeholders can be. In the end, I lived in that community for nearly 10 months, and I am still grateful for the experience and opportunity.
When I returned to Vancouver, I moved into an Account Director role where I learned a great deal about leading others in customer service excellence. Our clients are everything to us. I am always proud of our team when we receive commendation and we don’t stop until we have satisfied clients. I live and impart this ethos each day.
I became the Vice President one and a half years ago, managing the Vancouver office while our President heads our Ottawa office as well as our training practice. It’s during this time I expanded PR Associates focus from mostly the natural resource industry to other STEM based industries such as cleantech, health care, technology and infrastructure among others.
My favourite part of all this depends on the day. I have a couple of clients who brighten my day with each phone call. I really like the practice of Issues Management where we research potential issues and take steps to manage them before they become larger or even crisis. I wrote about that here. I also thrive on the diversity of what we do. I might be developing a communication strategy for a large national organization, advising a senior leader on how to navigate through the halls of the Legislature, offering advice on how to manage a “sticky” situation, or leading a team that brings international media attention to topical issues.
Sometimes I joke that I need a more glamorous PR job – one that has me following celebrities to Paris or Dubai, but the reality is, I’ve seen and done some spectacular things with my clients. Helicoptering over a volcano in the Nisga’a Lands; touching down on top of a mountain where very few have ever been; driving between Whitehorse and Alaska on the windiest of roads; spotting moose, bears and other amazing wildlife; filming in Northern Ontario and pretending a horsefly didn’t bite me. And I’ll never forget the one time a client left me (momentarily) at a glacier in northwest BC (I can be a little sassy).
It all leaves me wondering what the next six years will bring. Only time will tell. But I have no doubt how exciting it will be!
If we don’t already, I hope I’ll get a chance to work with you one day soon. Here’s how you can contact me.
Megan Helmer, Vice President of PR Associates