When I started PAN Communications 20 years ago, I had a vision. My vision was to create a firm that not only did exceptional work and helped clients meet their goals, but an agency where people were as passionate for their craft as I am, a place where people could grow their careers, without fear of office politics, and a place where company culture and employee opinions matter. I built PAN on the premise that the ingredients for a successful PR program are building relationships, earning trust and delivering key information to influencers who matter. Since day one in Andover, it has always been my goal that no matter how big PAN gets or how many offices we have, we never abandon that vision.
For those of you who don’t know much about how I got my start in PR, I’ll give you a little history lesson. When I began my career, I was fortunate to have two mentors–partners at Newsome & Company, which later became Hill & Knowlton’s Boston office. It was during those years before I launched PAN that I really learned the impact that a great manager could have on future generations of PR professionals. As such, when I set out on the adventure that we’ve been referring to as PAN Communications, I knew from the beginning that I was building a PR agency that fostered an environment for employee growth and exceptional client relations. I wanted PAN to be an agency where people treated each other with respect, were passionate about their careers, the office and their clients, and truly loved working together every day.
As I write this 20th anniversary post this month, my mind keeps floating back to those early PAN days and that vision I put in place all those years ago. June is LGBT pride month and with everything that is going on, from the Supreme Court voting on gay marriage to Caitlyn Jenner making her big debut, it has really got me thinking about PAN and how the PR industry in general has adapted to change.
As people around the country anxiously await the Supreme Court’s decision that could legalize equality nationwide, many brands have released campaigns targeting LGBT consumers. My personal favorite is the ad from Maytag in which the brand’s iconic repairman is holding a cake with rainbow filling and copy reading, “Equality and Cake for All.” Target, who has in the past has found themselves in hot water for its lack of support in this particular area, released a #TakePride campaign earlier this week, which speaks to the evolving understanding of one’s true self and respect for one’s place in the world.
It is clear that the conversation around LGBT issues is changing and brands are adjusting their messaging to recognize the diverse group of individuals who make up their audience. For those of us in the PR industry, this change in conversation is a great opportunity for us to counsel and advise our clients on how to take risks and do something new.
Seeing these types of campaigns and messages from some of the most well respected brands in the country really demonstrates how much the industry has changed since I began my career in the 80s. For me, this subject really hits home, especially at PAN. Over the years, no matter what bumps in the road we’ve come across or what triumphs we were celebrating, I have strived to make PAN a place where all employees feel accepted, regardless of age, race or sexual orientation. Just last week, one of PAN’s very own employees proposed to her girlfriend and the amount of support and love the staff showed them was overwhelming. To me, this really proved that even after all of these years, PAN still holds true to the vision I set in place 20 years ago.