Twenty-four-year public relations veteran Vic Beck took his first steps in the industry with the U.S. Navy. Today, Beck is a managing director at global public relations and communications firm Burson-Marsteller.
Beck shared the ins and outs to his 24-year career path with PRSA Boston as well as some helpful lessons for young PR pros that he wished he knew when embarking on his professional trek.
PRSA Boston: What was your first job in the industry? How did you end up in your current position?
Vic Beck: My first job in the industry was as a Navy Lieutenant and I was assigned as the assistant director of the Navy Office of Information in Boston. I obtained my current position through a professional contact I’ve known for a long time. I had recently returned from a tour in Afghanistan, and I had contacted him about an open position at a firm where he previously worked. When he heard I was looking, he said, “Forget that agency, you need to come join us!”
PRSA Boston: What do you love most about being in PR?
Vic Beck: I really enjoy developing and implementing PR strategies that provide demonstrable results for organizations. The more complex the communication challenge, the more interesting and exciting it is.
PRSA Boston: What has been a memorable PR experience (good or bad/ embarrassing) that turned into the most valuable learning experience? What did you learn from this experience?
Vic Beck: Many years ago, I was a young account executive in a fairly new position at an agency. My account supervisor told me that I had to get the media to attend a client press conference at 7:30 a.m. on the fourth day of a four-day tradeshow to introduce a new product. While I worked very hard to get the media to attend and I had 18 commitments, only two journalists showed up because of the horrible timing. I was so eager to make it work that I didn’t take a step back and raise my concerns. The lesson I learned was to not simply follow orders, but to speak up and share my thoughts and recommendations – especially when I think we’re not providing the best possible counsel to a client.
PRSA Boston: What are some of the biggest changes within the industry that occurred throughout your career?
Vic Beck: The obvious change is the advent of the Internet. It has fundamentally changed forever how we communicate, but along with change comes opportunity. I have always said that throughout history it has never been about which communication channel you use, it’s about reaching audiences. Always has been, always will be.
PRSA Boston: What do you think the future holds for the PR industry and its professionals?
Vic Beck: It’s a very exciting time to be in the PR business. The combination of the flattening information environment and splintering of communication channels make PR all the more important to companies and organizations that are trying to reach specific audiences.
PRSA Boston: What is the number-one recommendation you would give to new PR professionals?
Vic Beck: Write. Write a lot. There is no substitute for strong writing and it’s a skill that can always be improved upon. If you can convey your message with powerful, engaging words that capture people’s attention, you are well on your way to a successful career in PR.
PRSA Boston: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Vic Beck: Never give up. The PR business can be stressful and it’s very competitive. But, if you’re smart, driven, and passionate about your career choice of PR you will go far.
Know a PRSA Boston veteran who can provide some useful insights and tips to younger PR professionals in our PR industry veterans Q&A? Email Franceen Shaughnessy at firstname.lastname@example.org.