Important Advice for Media and PR Pros: Get Comfortable in the Grey, Commit to Self Renewal

Tribune executive Tony Hunter shares media insights and career tips to graduates and pros during annual e-Portfolio Showcase  (DePaul University/Jamie Moncrief)
Tribune executive Tony Hunter shares media insights and career tips with graduates and pros during annual e-Portfolio Showcase (DePaul University/Jamie Moncrief)

No industry still functioning today has withstood the sea change that threatens news organizations on every front. While print readership continues to drop like a rock, news organizations are scrambling to reinvent their business models. They are trying everything from digital expansion to consolidation. This ongoing change presents both challenges and opportunities for public relations professionals.

Last week, Tony Hunter, one of the newspaper industry’s top thought leaders, discussed changes in his industry and offered advice on how media and PR pros can succeed in the current turmoil affecting all communication channels. Tony is President of National Revenue & Strategic Initiatives, Tribune Publishing Company, and he recently was elected chair of the Newspaper Association of America (NAA).

In what some described as a powerful “mini-commencement address,” Tony shared his unique perspective with DePaul University PR/AD graduate students, alumni, faculty and Chicago-area PR pros. Based on his 30 years of leadership in the newspaper industry, Tony cited what he feels we can do to make ourselves better.

“We can, and should address our personal development so we can thrive in this disruptive, uncertain world we operate in,” Tony said. “Personally, I believe the uncertainty and disruption creates significant opportunities for growth.”

To thrive personally and professionally, Tony encouraged PR/AD and media pros to “get comfortable in the grey; commit to ongoing self-renewal; and be open to other people’s input and opinion.”

Here are Tony’s six suggestions to help ensure career success:

  • Passion makes work less like work. Find an area of interest and/or company that you are passionate about. Authentic, ever present energy and excitement goes a long way to succeeding under pressure. People love to work with, and for, people with passion.
  • Don’t think you have it all figured out. And even if you do, don’t tell anyone that. Confident, yes, arrogant never. Let your results and contributions speak for themselves. Practice corporate stewardship… Because it leads to personal gain.
  • Take prudent risks. My favorite quote on this is from Les Brown; “leap before you are ready and the net will appear”. Throughout my career, I’ve trusted my instincts and taken risks that have led to my greatest professional accomplishments. If you want to play it safe; then you will have a “safe”, uneventful, unsatisfying career.
  • Be a lifelong learner. That leads to versatility and versatility leads to more career opportunities. Executives are looking for fresh ideas; and covet people that want to learn and grow. Stay current; read like crazy; find a mentor outside your company; and be on the lookout for opportunities to develop new skills and expertise.
  • Give back and pay it forward. Find a way to make a difference outside of work. And pay everything you’ve received forward…because when you do, it comes back tenfold.
  • Don’t take yourself so serious, and have fun. Embrace the uncertainty; and one way to ensure you have fun is to “redefine” what fun is.

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