Behind the Headlines With Travis Taylor
The key is to break through the noise and stand out by doing something noteworthy.
Here, Travis Taylor, executive vice president of Fineman PR, discusses his uncommon path to a career in PR, the need for continuous improvement and the gratification of being a mentor.
How did you get your start in PR?
As part of a class project in college, I played a leading role in developing a PR plan to launch a defensive-driving program for teens. After I graduated, Safety Center Incorporated, the Sacramento, California nonprofit behind the initiative, hired me to implement the plan.
We got a lot of media coverage, and the program turned out to be a big success. It’s still going strong more than 10 years later.
What do you hope to accomplish in your new role as executive vice president at Fineman PR?
I’m going to push the boundaries of what clients expect from a public relations agency. Everything we do, from multicultural engagement and community building to corporate communications, reputation management and crisis communications, is built on the foundation of our “Brand PR” approach.
We’ve been successful for more than 25 years, but we can’t rest on our laurels. The best brands never stop striving to improve – and neither do we.
What has been the proudest moment of your career?
I’ve worn a lot of hats, but nothing has been as satisfying as mentoring. I wouldn’t be where I am without having had people help me at each step along the way, and I always feel proud and gratified when I can help someone else succeed. It’s a big part of what I do now.
Do you have any daily rituals that keep you going?
I listen to music while I write and edit. If I can hear the message clearly even with the volume turned up, I know it has a chance to break through the media clutter.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
My rugby playing days are over, so I use the extra time learning to cook. I love combining fresh, local ingredients in new ways to create a tasty dish. If my wife likes it, I’ve reached my target audience.
What is your favorite social media tool and why?
The one that will get the job done most effectively and efficiently. We use a lot of different tools depending on our needs and are always trying new ones. Lately, I’ve been focusing on visual tools like Pablo and Canva.
Do you have any advice for those looking to begin a career in PR?
Find your fire and stoke it every day. Just as we focus on building reputation for clients, those looking to get into PR should work to build their own reputation and brand.
My path was anything but common; I went from a nonprofit to a public affairs firm to the lieutenant governor’s office in Hawaii before joining a leading PR firm there and eventually landing at Fineman PR in San Francisco. Choose your own path, lest others do it for you.
Rapid Fire Round
1. I always thought I’d be…a copywriter. Turns out I had more to say than I thought.
2. The most interesting fact about me is…I played on a Hawaii State Rugby championship team (Kalihi Raiders – One Love!)
3. My daily newspaper of choice is…the San Francisco Chronicle.
4. My guilty pleasure is…#WineWednesday. We have several wine clients and need to keep up with the latest releases. It’s a tough job.
5. My most prized possession is…my wedding ring.
6. The characteristic I most dislike in people is…a rush to judgment, especially on social media. As everyone in PR knows, there’s always more to the story.
7. The thing that gets me up in the morning is…loving what I do.
Image via Travis Taylor
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