Giving Thanks to my mentors and colleagues.

December 13, 2011 at 12:05 AM 5 comments

This thank you post has been a long time coming. Symbolic, perhaps, of people’s proclivity to put off and sometimes forget to thank people in their lives. For all the joy and retribution I get from acknowledging my appreciation of other people’s support, I certainly don’t do it often enough.

Editor’s note: I actually had this drafted to post on Thanksgiving, but didn’t get around to it until now. This either further proves my point above or shows I’m a lazy blogger – you decide.

But on Thanksgiving week, when Americans historically give thanks for a good harvest, good family and good friends, I see no better time to thank those who have helped me find good fortune professionally. I have certainly missed people on this list, and those who I’ve mentioned deserve much more than the few words I’ve written. I only hope that someday I’ll be able to return the favor.

If you don’t know me or these people personally, this post won’t mean much, but I’ve kept relevant copy near the top of each section at a more general level.

My College Professors
The wisdom I learned in both undergraduate and graduate school is invaluable. I’m both grateful and amazed by the ability of passionate college professors to shape impressionable student minds into motivated aspiring professionals. The one’s I list here are among my favorite.

Cherly Heckler – A journalism professor at Miami University who helped shape my basic writing skills from idea organization to succinct prose. Also a friend whose care for students has no bounds.

Jean Lutz and BATSC program – As head of the Bachelor of Arts in Technical & Scientific Communication at MU, Jean built a program that prepared students for the professional world of communications. The skills and work ethic I learned in the program from all its professors are assets I apply every day. I just wish my professors could hear the ‘thank you’s I utter to my cubicle walls.

Jeanette Drake – My first PR professor, I have much to thank Dr. Drake for, but it is the rigor she demanded for classroom preparation that I am most thankful for. Meeting prep is now a breeze because of the professionalism she demanded in the graduate classroom at Kent State. Thank you for pushing me!

Jan Leach – Though I never had Jan for class, working for her to plan the Poynter Ethics conferences was one of the best learning experiences I had during graduate school. Not to mention Jan’s ceaseless offers to help professionally – it’s always appreciated!

And from a new media stand point, I can’t go without mentioning Stefanie Moore from Kent State’s PR program and Karl Fast in Information Architecture. I appreciated the immediate applicability of their coursework and their patience as I balanced it with full time work. Both embody academics who can offer more to their students because of their real world experience and constant eyes on the future of their respective industries.


My Professional Network
Launching into the real world, I sought to build a network of dedicated professionals I could learn from. Starting small by learning office politics and workplace etiquette, I looked for a variety of people that could broaden my perspective and teach me the ropes of the PR world as I progressed as a pro.

Nancy Perkins – The first mentor in my PR career, Nancy has been a tremendous influence and source of advice since we worked together. Maintaining a positive attitude and standing behind solid writing skills are things I learned from her and will never forget. Thanks!

Jennifer Kramer – Jen is a consummate professional with a personal drive to be admired. I’m lucky if even an iota of her organization and preparation skills rubbed off on me planning conferences at Kent State.

Todd Snider, Frank Whanger and folks at JWT Action – For making me look great on projects at my last gig, I owe the team at JWT (formerly Malone Ad) thanks for a whole lot more than professional development. But it’s what they taught me about advertising and solid creative that will last throughout my professional career.

Gary Wells, Christina Klenotic and folks at D&E – Similar to JWT, my friends at Dix & Eaton aided my PR efforts on the job. But the career advice, networking opportunities and downright selflessness of folks like Gary and Christina are beyond the call of duty. I’m truly thankful to be networked with them and will continue to stay in contact for years to come.

Scott Baughman, Skip Scherer and Keith Price – The “Goodyear guys” in my communications network were a crucial resource for me when I worked with that brand for many reasons. Their willingness to provide advice and insight to me as a young professional is greatly appreciated.

Ben Brugler – One of the key PRKent grads to give me career advice, I’m appreciative of the opportunities Ben’s given me over the years. More than anything, I’m thankful for how he’s challenged me to be the best in my career and will certainly use his encouragement as motivation moving forward.

Chris Baldwin – As one of my dad’s first students, I’ve known Chris since I was a kid and always looked up to him as a leading PR practitioner in the Greater Cleveland area. A visionary for where the industry is going, Chris has helped me develop my thoughts on the industry and how to stage my career in its early stages.

Eric Knappenberger – Another from PR Kent, Eric’s advice while I was a “PR island” proved more than valuable in my last gig, and his positive attitude about the industry is something I carry with me today. His fun loving approach and entrepreneurial PR skills are something I admire and mimic as I seek success in the biz.

Chris Eck – The last PRKent grad in my list, Chris’s no-BS perspective is both refreshing and insightful. His willingness to help me sort through the aggravations of corporate PR and find success in a variety of atmospheres has been key to my success so far, and I know he’s always happy to give advice.


Countless Colleagues at Veyance
As with any professional position, I learned just as much from the other functions around me as I did about the field of public relations. I’m thankful for all of the managers and executives I worked with for embracing the power of strategic communications and putting faith in me as a young professional to fuel success.

My Bosses, Jim Hill, Laura Domchick, Jon Cocco and many more. My reporting structure at Veyance was much more complicated than anything listed on paper. Thusly, my “bosses” are too many to list, but I trust they know who they are. Their patience and advice as I navigated a corporate culture to execute internal and external communications strategies was crucial to my success and learning throughout my tenure with the company. I look forward to staying in contact as our paths take us in different directions.

Sue Deckard for sympathizing – A special mention goes out to Sue who understood my plight as a solo PR practitioner with the company. Her background with the field was crucial to me identifying opportunities and implementing solutions over the last three years and I’m eternally grateful.

If you’ve made it this far you realize there’s one tremendous professional thank you I’ve left out. Or shall I say left for last. As I list the professional thanks you notes above, I’d be amiss not to mention the single most influential person on my PR career to date: Bill Sledzik.

It may be obvious to thank my dad for all he’s given me over the years, but it’s something I haven’t fully appreciated until recently. Among the basics he instilled with me at a young age — strong writing skills, a work ethic bordering on obsession and confidence in my abilities – I continue to learn more from him every day I practice PR. An unshakeable positive attitude balanced by realism and a sense of humor to deal with the not-so-glorious days in PR are among many intangibles I’ve either inherited or absorbed along the way. I’ll undoubtedly continue to learn more from him over the years and look forward to having an “at-home” mentor to guide me. Thanks, Dad. 😉


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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Christina Klenotic  |  December 13, 2011 at 8:50 PM

    Thanks, Chris, and Happy Thanksgiving! 😉 Good luck to you. Keep me posted.

  • 2. Chris Baldwin (@ChrisCBaldwin)  |  December 14, 2011 at 9:12 AM

    Thanks Chris. I’m honored.

  • 3. Jennifer Gaylord Kramer  |  December 14, 2011 at 9:52 AM

    I have tears, Chris. Thanks for mentioning me among these talented folks.

  • 4. Gene Sasso  |  December 14, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    A man any dad would be proud of. Kudos, Chris.

  • 5. My new gig: the offer I couldn’t refuse « Steele Headed  |  December 15, 2011 at 1:08 AM

    […] I’m sure I’ll have more specifics to add about the gig in the coming weeks, but it should suffice to say that I’m pumped up enough after just three days to write a blog post about it. And if you missed it, I wouldn’t have made it here alone. Another big thanks to those who helped me get here. […]

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