Behind the Headlines With Dan Cence
A PR pro’s job is never done. With constant changes and new things happening every day in the industry, keeping up can be a challenge.
But with the right attitude, diligence and a desire to learn, PR pros can focus their efforts and find success.
In this interview, Dan Cence, senior vice president at Boston-based PR agency Solomon McCown, shares his thoughts on the intersection of PR and government relations, how he keeps up with the constantly-evolving industry and his desire for continual growth.
How did you get your start in PR?
I had always wanted to be a sports broadcaster when I was young (after my dreams of an NFL career were dashed due to a slow 40, height issues, lack of strength and leaping ability) so I attended Boston University as a communications student.
When I was exposed to the PR program there, I quickly realized that this was something I was A. excited about and B. found easy.
What do you hope to accomplish in your new role as senior vice president at Solomon McCown?
Boston is a very parochial city, one that takes time and relationships to crack. I subscribe to the theory that nothing here can be accomplished without first considering the political/public ramifications.
If I accomplish nothing more than making our clients realize this and become more aware of it, which I believe will ultimately make them more successful, then I have done my job. But more than that, I want to maximize the wealth of knowledge, experience and talent that already exists here at Solomon McCown and focus it on becoming the leading public affairs firm in the northeast corridor.
What drew you to the area of government relations?
I was born into a political family. We were always involved in campaigns and advocacy work. From my grandfather, who worked on Jack Kennedy’s 1946 congressional run, to my uncle who ran for mayor of the city of Boston, to the countless uncles and cousins who have all been politically active along the way, we have always played a role in government in Boston and Massachusetts. You could say I didn’t have choice!
What has been the biggest challenge of your career?
I have been very blessed in life and in work. I’ve had amazing family support, truly great teachers and professors and some of the most successful and decorated members of the Boston business community serve as my mentors.
Truly the only challenges I face are self-imposed doubt and complacency. Two things I fear most – I can’t or I haven’t. So I try not to let those things into my life.
Do you have any daily rituals that keep you going?
I am a voracious consumer of news. I read all I can and listen all I can all morning to catch up on the news of the day I may have missed the day before and to prepare myself for what I need to do that day.
This starts with the TV on while working out in the morning to NPR on the radio as I drive in to constant news monitoring all day. Being slightly OCD with a touch of ADD helps…
What do you like to do outside of work?
At the risk of being corny, PR is my business, but my family is my passion. I have an amazing wife and three children Danny, Mia and Ella. I love to watch them play sports or go skiing with them or watch movies and hang out. I’ve also been known to play a round or two of golf.
Do you have any advice for those looking to begin a career in PR?
Show up on time. Never miss a good opportunity to shut up. Dive in the pool – deep end first. Expose yourself to as many things, experiences and situations as you can.
Rapid Fire Round
1. I always thought I’d be…a sports broadcaster.
2. The most interesting fact about me is…nothing, according to my three kids. Just boring old Dad.
3. My daily newspaper of choice is…The Boston Globe.
4. My guilty pleasure is…single malt scotch.
5. If I won the lottery, I’d…be writing this from my own Caribbean island
6. The thing that gets me up in the morning is…a desire to be better than yesterday.
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