Northeastern alumni Pam Fultz has worked across the field of public relations from journalism to education to community relations management, from the Midwest to the Southeast. She met with us in February of this year to discuss her career, her education, and the lessons she can teach current students of Public Relations. Benjamin George, a student in the Master’s program at CPS with a focus on Public Relations, conducted the interview.
Can you tell me a little about yourself?
Sure. I’m a former news broadcaster turned communications professional and university instructor. While I was a sophomore in college in Dayton, Ohio, working my way from the small market of Richmond, Indiana, to Dayton and Columbus, Ohio, and then down to Miami, Florida, I worked in radio and television both, but then decided once I moved to Florida that I would prefer stability and not moving from market to market like you needed to do in broadcasting. So, I took a contract public relations job and then quickly learned I needed more of a foundation and corporate communications to succeed in my new chosen industry. That’s why I decided to pursue my master of science in corporate and organizational communications. I searched online for the best program to give me the foundation I needed and offer flexibility so I wouldn’t have to move as I love Naples. And I was also familiar with Northeastern as Boston is my favorite vacation destination. So, that’s why I chose the program at Northeastern.
Your current role at Bentley Village, can you tell me a little about that and how it fits into the industry?
I’m the senior community relations manager for Vi at Bentley Village and I have been working here for eight years. So, how it fits into the industry is in my role I do a lot of different things at the local and also the corporate level as I work for both the local and corporate offices.
I launched a media relations training program for the company almost four years ago and oversee media relations efforts of our four community relations managers in the Vi portfolio. We have 10 properties across the country and five of them have community relations managers. And the reason I was asked to do that is because of my broadcasting, news broadcasting background, and the other community relations managers had more of a business development background. And so, they were looking for someone who already knew media relations and news broadcasting to launch the program.
At the local level I also lead the development execution and evaluation of our marketing public relations strategies to increase referrals, lead generation and sales for community. I research and coordinate all sponsorships for our local community and I serve as the spokesperson and represent the company and the community at events, establishing relationships with business and community leaders at the local level. I produced more than 60, even during the pandemic, local regional and national media placements annually. So, we’ve been featured in anything from the local Naples Daily News to PGA Magazine to online publications that run nationally for senior living.
We even had one that went viral a couple of years ago because we had a couple who, we were evacuated for hurricane Irma back in 2018 and the couple, because we have such a large community, the couple had never met on our campus and they went up to our evacuation site in Orlando and met and two months later they got married. So, the Naples Daily News came and covered that and it went all across the nation. It was really fun.
I also fell into becoming the subject matter expert on Zoom at our community as we’ve hosted numerous webinars and meetings for internal and external stakeholders over the past two years as you can imagine due to social distancing. So, that is my role. In my role I also serve on community boards committees. A couple of things I do, I am past president of the public relations society of the gulf coast of America, gulf coast chapter, and I am also the diversity equity and inclusion officer currently for our chapter. I also served in the Naples Chamber of Commerce, Government Relations Committee and the Wildlife Committee for the Conservancy of southwest Florida.
“The job is always changing. There’s something new that comes up every week.”
Sounds like you wear an awful lot of hats!
That’s a lot. Yes, I really do. It’s interesting. The job is always changing. There’s something new that comes up every week. Who knew that that, again, Zoom would become something that I would get to be knowledgeable about? And I’m the only one on campus that knows how to do the webinars. Therefore, I do the webinars, typically not working so much with the residents, but I’ll do some things for administration, some things for sale, some things for corporate just because of knowing how to use it now, and I think it’s a platform will continue to use, its just so efficient.
“What I enjoy the most is still getting to tell the stories, because when you effectively tell stories, it definitely changes opinions.”
So, it sounds like the principles of public relations really are pervasive throughout all the work that you do. What’s your favorite thing about your position– what’s the most rewarding thing?
Well, I think my favorite part of my job is that I get to use my journalistic roots to continue telling stories. Public relations is really all about relationship building and storytelling, and in this role I get to build and develop relationships with our senior residents, get to know them and also the external news reporters. And then I get to help tell the stories of our residents in our community and get those placed in the media from the cake lady who delivered pieces of birthday cake to all of her 800 neighbors across campus, to a 93 year old golfer, to former educators who live here at Bentley Village who started a foundation to give out scholarships to our employees and they have an endowment of over $1 million just in about six or seven years that they put together. So, it’s really, I think that’s what I enjoy the most is still getting to tell the stories, because when you effectively tell stories, it definitely changes opinions and helps with selling.
That kind of outside-the-box thinking to deal with the problem.
Lots of creative solutions needed in public relations.
That wraps up part 1. Watch this space for part 2 of this enlightening interview coming next week where we discuss Pam’s time in CPS, as well as get her advice for current students.