Palmetto PR Diva Dish – Kelly Davis, APR, president of Davis Public Relations and Marketing

Liza and I have both had the pleasure of working with Kelly Davis, APR, president of Davis Public Relations and Marketing, on a variety of SCPRSA projects and activities. She is a great advocate for independent practitioners, and we’re glad she participated in the weekly profile with us! Read on to learn more and have a great weekend.

o Please provide title and a brief description of what you do:
o President of Davis Public Relations and Marketing, a full-service independent communications firm based in Columbia, South Carolina. We provide strategic public relations planning, branding, media relations, community relations and marketing programs to clients in a variety of industries with a special emphasis on health care and public policy.

o How did you become interested in the public relations industry?
o After majoring in English at Furman University, I took at job at a large corporation in Columbia, where I had a terrific mentor who encouraged me to pursue my master’s degree in journalism and a career in public relations. I knew that PR would be a great fit for my communications skills and my desire to connect companies with the communities they serve.

o What changes have you seen in the industry that is the most interesting to you?
o Independent practitioners now represent one of the fastest growing segments of the public relations industry. This fascinates me not only because I am independent, but also because of the success rates that I am seeing among independent practitioners. Success for each one of us means greater acceptance and greater understanding that small firms are just as competitive as large firms in pursuing big business and providing high quality, effective service to our clients.

o Are you involved in any professional associations? If so, what are they and what do you learn by being involved?
o I have been a member of the Public Relations Society of America and its South Carolina Chapter since 1997. I have been on the SCPRSA board since 2000, including serving as Chapter President in 2002, and currently serve as the Chapter Ethics Officer and the Chair of PRSA’s Independent Practitioners Alliance, a professional interest section with more than 200 members across the country. As the world’s largest professional association for public relations practitioners, PRSA has been vitally important to my professional development, networking and understanding of industry trends. Plus, I have made a lot of terrific friends!

o What is the one piece of advice you would give students that are interested in pursuing a career in the public relations/investor relations industry?
o Take advantage of internships and part-time job opportunities. I encourage everyone to work or intern in the non-profit sector early in their career. Non-profits can be great places to learn and practice a lot of skills while being given actual responsibilities that make a difference in the organization.

o Please describe your experience in obtaining your APR. Was it different than you thought? How has it made a difference in your professional career?
o I began studying for the APR exam shortly after completing my master’s degree. At the time, you had to have five years of experience to pursue accreditation, so it was the perfect time to take the exam since I was still in a “study mode” from graduate school and still had all of the theory and history at the top of my mind. The APR process has changed since I took it, but in serving as a Readiness Review panelist and helping others prepare for the exam over the past few years, I now believe that the process is geared more to helping people succeed than it was in the past.

Before starting my own company, I was fortunate to work for other PRSA members who understood the value of accreditation, so it did help me in securing a raise when I passed the exam and in landing a new position for which APR was a desired qualification. Now as an independent business owner, I often explain to potential clients that working with an accredited practitioner means that they not only have PR counsel who fully understands the history and theory of public relations, but they also have one who is committed to ethical practice.

o What is the best thing about your job?
o I love the variety of working with different clients and being able to use different skills to meet each client’s needs. It’s rarely the same thing every day. I also take a lot of pride in helping my clients make a real difference in the lives of the people they serve. Working in the same community where I was raised, I feel that the work I do gives me a great opportunity every day to give back and to do my part in making South Carolina a better place to live.

o What is the thing you like least about your job?
o I am most frustrated by the lack of understanding of the public relations profession, whether it is from people who equate public relations only with media relations or from those who accuse us of being “spin doctors.” The recent controversy involving a CBS News commentator who made disparaging comments about the public relations profession in general (and PRSA in particular) really illustrated the challenge we have on a daily basis to help people understand the full range of services that public relations encompasses as well as the duty we all have to advocate for our profession.

o Are there any exciting announcements you’d like to tell us about (either with your own practice or one of your clients)?
o On July 2, Davis Public Relations and Marketing celebrates our fourth anniversary. I am very proud and excited about all that we have accomplished since taking that leap of faith four years ago. Every day brings new opportunities for personal and professional growth. I particularly want to express my sincere appreciation to my friends and colleagues who have been so supportive of my company and to all of the clients who have entrusted their business to our team.

o How do you balance your professional career with your personal life?

o Being self-employed, I probably work longer hours now than I did working for someone else, but I’ve also learned to embrace the flexibility that owning my own business gives me. I make it a priority to spend time with my family and friends – those personal relationships are precious to me. I started working with a personal trainer this year, and my new commitment to regular exercise has really made a difference mentally as well as physically. Anything you can do to stay energized and refreshed will only make you better when you return to the office.

o Anything else you would like to add?
o I’d like to thank Liza and Kim for creating this terrific resource and meeting place for us Palmetto PR Divas!

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