By Lisa Fels Davitt

What can I say about Washington, DC? It’s the city that took me from an 18-year-old public communications major at American University to a full-fledged adult and business owner. It’s the city that gave me my start. I cut my teeth in politics at NJ Senator Frank Lautenberg’s office and volunteered at the White House, fielding calls on the comment line.  And then I got my first real taste of DC PR while at Edelman, and years later, at Glover Park Group (now FGS Global) and Proof Strategies.

To this day, it’s some of the smartest and most rewarding PR I’ve ever done. Crisis comms. Legal comms. Public affairs. Media relations from day one.

DC PR taught me about using communications to “win” a campaign or overcome a regulatory hurdle. The audience was typically government, interest groups and even parent groups, but media was often the conduit – the messenger and influencer.

DC PR taught me that there was an art and cadence to campaigns – a beginning, middle and end. Through this, I became laser focused on delivering the right message at the right time to the right audience.

I also learned to love media relations, especially as I grew into my various roles. I taught it to newer PR professionals midway through my career. I love it even now, as it’s become even more challenging given smaller newsrooms and intense competition.

Most importantly, DC PR gave me the gift of the most generous and brilliant mentors and colleagues, who I call on to this day for their unfiltered wisdom. I debated naming them because I’m overlooking too many to count, but a special shout out to Ben Finzel, Audrey Waters, Cristi Barnett, Wayne Besen, Alex Slater, Julie Anbender, Mike Feldman, Dave Farmer, Karen Addis, Frank Walter, Nick Mitsis, Andy Grabel, and the list goes on.

Word to the DC PR wise? Beware of the echo chamber. Don’t rely on what you think you know or solely enlist like-minded peers to help you “win” the campaign. Recruiting focus groups of diverse people can be pivotal in ensuring that your message is as effective as you think it is.

Finally, DC PRepared me for NY PR. And that’s Part II of this series – to come next week!