For the November issue of WebNotes, we met Laurie Farrell, PRSA Maryland board member and volunteer. Laurie is the owner and president of her own freelance firm, Mission Street Communications, and was the chair of the PRSA Maryland Conference this year.
How long have you been a member of PRSA and why did you join?
I have been involved with PRSA Maryland since 2004. I’ve always been excited to learn new skills, meet new people and make connections, and PRSA has helped me do that.
What did you enjoy most about being the conference chair for the 2020 PRSA Maryland Conference?
I also chaired last year’s conference and at first, I thought that this year’s conference might not be as much work because it was virtual. But it became a challenge as we had to figure out what was going to resonate with people and what would keep viewers engaged when so many have “Zoom fatigue.” This led us to get to work with some awesome speakers from all over the country, who we would not ordinarily be available for an in-person event. We brought in a producer, Laurie Reuben, who was great to collaborate with. Overall, I love creating content and experiences as a team, rising to the occasion when there’s a challenge and collaborating with others.
What is your current position?
The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t been an easy time for anyone. I was part of a layoff due to budget cuts as a newer employee. This provided me with a bit of a break to focus on the conference and my family, and allowed me to gain clarity on what I want to do next. I also have my own freelance business called Mission Street Communications, which I’m starting to do more for. My goal is to land with a mission-based organization where I can be part of a team and help them reach their goals and make some meaningful contributions while also continuing to learn and grow.
What do you love most about the PR field?
The essence of PR is cultivating and growing mutually beneficial relationships, which I’m all about. I also love the strategy that goes into it, collaborating with organizations to solve problems and provide solutions that make an impact. So much has changed and developed over time, but the fundamentals are always going to be the same. You always have to think about reputation management and crisis communications, hone your writing skills, and strategize about how to engage different audiences. It’s fast-paced and always changing, which makes this profession so interesting and fun.
How do you define success?
First, just giving back, participating in my community and being a good human being. Our measures for success tend to change over time as we travel along in life. For me, success is making the time to do the things I truly enjoy, either on my own or with the people I enjoy most. And then, making sure to be very present for it. You can accomplish all kinds of things, but you need to ask yourself “how am I making the most of the time I have?” There’s so much joy in everyday, ordinary moments – like seeing a cool leaf or savoring the first sip of a hot cup of tea or skipping with my granddaughter. Really recognizing the value of those simple moments makes for a great life.
Who inspires you?
Anyone who is doing good things in the world, taking risks, and stretching themselves. All three of my daughters inspire me when I see the people they have become. Now that my kids are older, I get to continue to share in their lives, and they inspire me a lot.
What is one thing – either industry-related or not – you learned in the last month?
Going back to the conference, the different ways and tools to provide engaging content for people virtually. There’s so much more you can do now. I think when we’re back in person, these lessons I learned are important to remember as well. Keep it interesting and keep it relevant.
What is something about you (a fun fact) that many people may not know?
I make amazing playlists. I like to create playlists based on how I want to feel the next day, or what I want my mood to be. I have magic powers to transform my day with playlists, and it absolutely works!
What is a podcast you would recommend?
“How I Built This.” It’s an NPR podcast where Guy Raz interviews innovators, entrepreneurs, and those who have started successful businesses. Guy is such an excellent interviewer and the stories are interesting and inspiring. Guests include the founders of Ben & Jerry’s, Airbnb, Warby Parker, Canva and Bobbi Brown.
Where did you grow up and where would you like to retire?
I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and grew up in Pasadena, Maryland. I like to think about retiring in New England, like Massachusetts, or Beaufort, North Carolina.
If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Gluten-free pancakes with maple syrup (and maybe some bacon). For obvious reasons, that’s not a good idea. So, I’ll replace that with one of my super healthy (and delicious) soup recipes.