I'm changing it up a bit for one blog this week. For my Crisis Communications class I had to interview a Pro. I interviewed Larry Nation, the Communications Director for the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. To go along with the London theme, I asked Mr. Nation what his favorite thing about London is:
"I Have been to London only four times, which means I have only scratched the surface of what that world-class treasure has to offer. Usually stay in the St. James area, which is near Parliament/Buckingham Palace and the Tube takes you everywhere in minutes. Besides the usual suspect places is the "bunker" where Churchill broadcast his great radio speeches and was the Hq for all military ops, (which is near Parliament). But mainly, as always, I enjoy engaging with the "real" people who live and work there (which is the same answer where I go - ).
So, guess my main answer would be talking with interesting people."
I also want to say thanks for taking the time to talk to me.
So, here's the interview, in overview form, as turned in for class:
Larry Nation is the Communications Director for the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. My dad works at AAPG as the Director of Global Development and Conventions and arranged an interview day with Nation. We communicated through email to find a time that was best. We spoke on the phone and I learned what being the communications director for an association is all about.
Larry Nation received a bachelor’s degree in Radio/Television Journalism at the University of Tulsa and took master’s courses in Rhetoric and Writing. From there he was a reporter on oil and business, crime, politics and other topics for the Tulsa World. He became the Tulsa World’s youngest State Editor at the age of 24. Nation joined the University of Tulsa Division of Continuing Education as the Marketing Director and later became the Assistant Dean of Continuing Education. Now, he works as the Communications Director for AAPG.
A typical week for Nation is not typical. It is more of a typical month. He works on the website as well as the monthly publication, AAPG Explorer. Because of this, mid-month is slow, then it “crescendos” up and up until the deadline. Once the deadline is met it starts all over again. He also works on other projects that keep him busy in the down time such as marketing pieces, exhibit design, and other special publications. The number one thing Nation lives by is deadlines. A deadline is a “promise.” He said you can’t be efficient or economically responsible if you can’t meet a deadline.
There isn’t one specific project Nation is proud of, but he is proud of their award-winning publications. They work with scientists, who report on what they are doing, and target other geologist. He described the publication as a “common pond in the jungle where all animals come to drink,” because there are many different types of geologists who read the APPG Explorer.
Nation reads to keep current in the industry. He also makes calls and talks to people. Once he has information, he goes to meetings where they read and discern the important news items.
As a JB student, Nation wishes he was better at math at the beginning. He said you use it more than you think you will. He would have also liked to learn more scientific aspects.
Nation said writing is crucial in everything he does. Even in everyday communication, writing is crucial. Writing should have clarity and brevity, and you should be able to use language correctly; being able to communicate well says volumes.
When I asked Nation for three tips he would offer someone starting out in PR, he paused. He said there were so many things he would share, it was hard to narrow it down to three. The first was to find a mentor, somebody in the business who can guide and assist you. He even mentioned that, although employers may want you to, you’re not supposed to know everything right at the beginning. Second was to get experience on your resume. The third was to make contacts and get to know people. It’s the key to opening doors. Those who are more outgoing are more likely the ones out front while the shy people tend to be more on the production and editing side. Nation said he could not have been happy on the production side because of his personality. I received an email from Nation after the interview where he gave me one more bit of advice- “when communicating, always consider the target audience and tailor that message for their maximum understanding.”
Because AAPG is a petroleum and geology association, when the Gulf oil spill occurred its employees had a lot of work to do. Nation worked on getting AAPG positioned to answer questions and be a reliable, unbiased source for the media. The AAPG president has 30 years experience and could talk about was going on. AAPG is an association, therefore it was not labeled as a spokesperson for the industry. Some of the things they shared may not have been what people wanted to hear, but they were honest. This allowed them to make friends with the media. From May 30-Sept. 21, 2010, AAPG has been quoted 519 times in 103 newspapers in the United States and 123 times in 20 international publications. To attract attention in the beginning, he sent out a news advisory saying who they were, contact information and that they were ready to answer any questions. They also sent a release relaying that it was an accident, though it probably could have been avoided. Nation said it snowballed from there. They appeared on CNN, NBC Nightly, in New York Times and other newspapers. Whenever new developments were made in the Gulf, the media already knew who they were. Nation said he is proud how they reacted to the oil spill and assisted the media.
After the interview with Nation I’m more likely to want a career in PR, but probably not in the petroleum geology field. The answers I got from him were what I was expecting, especially when it came to the importance of writing. It was interesting to hear about the Gulf oil spill and learn a different side of PR and communications based in petroleum.
If you want to find out more about AAPG, check out its website, http://www.aapg.org/