Rick is the Chief Marketing Officer for the YMCA of Greater Cleveland, which covers four counties and serves 150,000 people Northeast Ohio. The Y is a nonprofit focusing on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Rick has 30 years of Fortune 100 and nonprofit communications, marketing, public relations and brand strategy experience. He has held executive public relations and marketing positions with Babcock & Wilcox, AlliedSignal, Honeywell International, The Cleveland Foundation, Team NEO and The Greater Cleveland Partnership. Rick is a graduate of Ohio University with a major in Public Relations and received his Master of Arts in Public Relations from Kent State University. He holds his accreditation with the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), is a member of its College of Fellows and serves on PRSA’s national board of directors. Rick has served as an adjunct faculty member at Kent State University’s Master of Public Relations program. He has contributed to several books and authored journal articles on the subjects of communication, marketing and economic development.
Home Chapter: Greater Cleveland and Akron Area
What is your favorite part about being part of PRSA (National, District and Chapter levels)?
This question needs a timestamp because my favorite part of PRSA isn’t a stagnant answer. When I need to draw on a network, that’s my favorite part. When I need resources and ideas, and PRSA provides them, then that’s the best part. Professional development, thought leadership, inspiration — for me, it’s all there. My favorite part is a moving target.
What do you hope to contribute to PRSA-ECD in 2020?
As ECD’s national board rep, I want to keep the District informed. More importantly, I want to hear from its board and its members. We have a phenomenal Regional Rep in Crystal, so I also want to support her. I will feel accomplished if by the end of my term (2020) the District will have found my role of value in their efforts to serve members. I also hope to help our new board representative transition to the national board.
What is your favorite part of public relations (and other related communications industries)?
While I work in an integrated marketing and communications job, and nearly every executive position I’ve held featured the “marketing” title, I consider myself a public relations professional. Especially in today’s environment where the tag “fake” is prevalent and misinformation is widely and purposely disbursed, I value the PRSA Code of Ethics. For me, our Code is the filter through which all communications and actions should be passed. No other communications or marketing professional association takes such a strong stand on ethics. Indeed, that’s my favorite part of PR.
Talk about your career. What have been some highlights and missteps, and what have you learned from them?
I have been at this for more than 30 years, so in the interest of brevity, my highlight comes from the breadth of my career. From serving in leadership roles in small nonprofits to a major foundation to Fortune 50 companies, I’ve learned that the impact of one’s decisions may vary (number of people affected, cost of execution, staff required, etc.), but the guiding principles of decision-making do not. Any missteps in my tenure have happened when I allowed myself or others to distract me from level-headed, careful and thoughtful decisions and I rushed to judgment or to action. If one is disciplined about the decision-making process, then even in most rushed, panicked situations, muscle memory kicks in and good decisions are made.
What would you say to a prospective member who wants to join PRSA but is on the fence? *
I may be cheating here, but I find PRSA’s own answer to this question as powerful as anything I can add: ” PRSA provides lifelong learning opportunities and access to a variety of resources to prepare you for every stage of your career. If you’re new to the industry, a long-time veteran, or somewhere in between, PRSA helps members meet tomorrow’s challenges.”
What do you like most about QuickStart, the Diamond Awards and/or other PRSA-ECD initiatives?
PRSA’s 10 Districts are sometimes overlooked by members who value their chapter and national. ECD is more vulnerable to being unnoticed than some others because we do not conduct an annual conference. Yet, it was ECD that invented QuickStart, a program that has been copied by most Districts. Our awards program, wonderfully refined this year by the ECD board, is bringing regional recognition to our members’ good work. And we are blessed with a plethora of outstanding leaders who we recognize with the Platinum Award. The Districts are the unsung heroes of PRSA. However, those of us who have been involved with ECD found knowledge sharing, leadership training, network building and comradery that we will value always.
Would you like to add anything else?
It has been the highlight of my career to represent the ECD on the national PRSA Board of Directors for the past four years.
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