Self-Improvement Month: Julie, Charlotte and Brandy

September 18, 2019

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September is Self-Improvement Month, an observance designed to encourage people to make empowering changes to reach their goals. At FleishmanHillard, we encourage our teams to never settle. This month we’ll highlight employees across our global network who embody our bold approach and strive to grow professionally and personally. Responses will be shared in Q&A format featuring their unique perspectives.

This week, we’ll highlight Julie Sculley, Charlotte Nicholds and Brandy Geers.

Julie Sculley, vice president, supporting our Media Relations practice in Boston

Julie Sculley

Q: What’s a specific area of your career you want to develop over the next year? How do you plan to do so?

A: PR has evolved so much since I first started working in the field. I’ve always been at agencies where our work was concentrated on “media relations” specifically. That used to mean mostly earned media, especially articles written by staff reporters. Contributed articles then started becoming a bigger part of the landscape, followed by owned media-like blogs. Until recently, paid media was not even in the discussion for most of my clients – but things are changing. It’s important that we learn more about the various paid opportunities that exist and can make strategic recommendations to clients for capitalizing on those channels within our programs and campaigns. I plan to learn more about both video and print paid media through colleagues who have that expertise and have also requested a group training on this topic at the local level.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you can give to others working on their own professional development?

A: Don’t compare yourself to a colleague — everyone is different! We are individuals with different interests and abilities, and we grow at our own pace. You may be stronger at pitching while Jenny may be better at content work. And that’s ok! I strongly feel that PR is often best learned by doing. If you’re not the strongest writer — you need to do more writing! And while we shouldn’t compare ourselves to our colleagues, I do believe we can really learn a lot from each other. Listen to one another in meetings, bounce ideas off your peers and ask for their opinions — soak up all the collective knowledge that’s around you!

Q: What is your proudest career moment so far and how do you aim to build on it?

A: This is a hard one to answer! There are many different reasons to feel proud, whether it’s through personal accomplishment or as part of a larger team effort. One that comes to mind is when I secured a USA Today Snapshot for my client after three years of pitching it! Getting the hit resulted from a mix of perseverance and pitching the right data at the right time in the right way. One of the biggest lessons was understanding that the data point needed to be able to stand on its own with little explanation. Seeing the data with a cute illustration in full color was exhilarating! I build on past individual successes by using those experiences to help my teams achieve success on behalf of our clients, or for the agency in new business pitches. I find tremendous satisfaction in seeing my team members succeed. Receiving kudos from a client when a team member gets a great placement really makes me feel like a proud mama bear!

Charlotte Nicholds, associate director, supporting our Reputation Management practice in London

Charlotte Nicholds

Q: How do you set short- and long-term career goals?

A: Throughout the year I find myself regularly reflecting on my career goals with September and January being my key months to review my achievements and think about what I still want to aim for in the short-term. Not only do I write these goals down but I also share them with those closest to me so that they can help keep me accountable. I’m someone who loves to have a roadmap and an idea of where I want to head longer-term too so I use friends, family and colleagues at work to bounce off career aspirations and work out a path for getting there. It doesn’t matter if you change your mind or you decide to take a different direction – the important thing is having something to strive for in the first place and have the support of others who believe you can get there.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you can give to others working on their own professional development?

A: Seek input from lots of different individuals that you admire – this doesn’t just have to include people within your company or that you know. For example, I really enjoy finding inspiration through people’s autobiographies, podcasts and feature articles. Understanding people’s background story and where they came from can give you a boost and ideas for your own career development.

Q: What do you think is the best thing someone can do to advance their career?

A: I am a big believer in letting the results you produce speak for themselves. You cannot underestimate the value of hard work when it comes to advancing your career. By proving yourself to deliver excellent work, on time and within budget so many more opportunities will be presented to you as you’ll be seen as a trusted and valuable member of the team.

Brandy Geers, senior vice president, supporting our Public Affairs practice in St. Louis

Brandy Geers

Q: What do you do when you experience a setback? How do you overcome it?

A: I’ve always been a “persevere and charge the hill” type of person. It’s so easy to get frustrated and feel that setbacks are unfair. Some of them are, but I think the best thing you can do is to dust yourself off, take a deep breath and find an alternate route. There’s rarely only one way to get somewhere. Enlist help if you need it. Don’t feel like you have to do everything or figure it all out yourself.

Q: How do you seek and implement feedback?

A: I ask – those I manage, those who manage me, those who work on the same team. If you don’t ask for feedback you won’t get it – and if you don’t get it, you’ll wonder why you’re having issues in your career. Listening with an open mind to multiple points of view not only helps make you a better colleague, but also a better person. I may not agree with everything I hear, but I find that the candid discussions help build deeper trust and respect between my colleagues and me and set the stage for more productive personal and professional conversations in the future. Plus, tackling a potentially challenging conversation is always good for personal and professional growth.

Q: What is your proudest career moment so far and how do you aim to build on it?

A: This is a hard one to answer because there are so many moments over my 15+ years that add up to a proud career at FleishmanHillard. In general, my proudest moments are making a positive community impact through our work – helping people live better lives, relieve some pressure, build a better future for themselves and their community. For me to maintain a career that I am proud of, I intend to continue to pour myself into my work, focus on doing work that has that bigger purpose and keep pushing myself to do the best I can on each and every project each and every time.