If you don’t already know Shonali Burke, this Inquisition will push you over the edge.
If you practice communications for a living, you MUST know Shonali Burke!
Not only is she super smart and forward-thinking, she has a gorgeous lilt that you want to listen to forever and ever.
I have the supreme advantage of calling her a friend and have many, many stories I could share about her here.
Like the time we were in New Orleans and we … wait. I can’t tell you that. Or the time we were in Washington, D.C. and we … nope. Not that one either.
In all seriousness, she has some great stories, such as how she was a movie star in India. Or how she met her husband online and he traveled to India to meet her and they got married immediately. Or how she decided to give working for a global agency a go, even though she was accustomed to being her own boss and calling her own schedule. She made a real go of it, too. Way longer than I could have.
She leads SBC, a communications consulting firm, is accredited in the practice of public relations, blogs at Waxing Unlyrical, is the founder of #measurePR (which just celebrated its five year anniversary), and gives back to the industry in major ways. She also is an adjunct professor so I’m clearly not the only one who thinks she rocks.
I have asked her to sit on the Spin Sucks Inquisition hot seat so you can learn more about her…and perhaps convince her to talk to you so you can hear that gorgeous voice.
What is the Biggest Mistake You’ve Made in Your Career?
You want just one?!
Not listening to my gut. This has gotten my into trouble EVERY time I’ve done it (or, rather, *not* done it).
We all have a “butterfly effect” in our tummies. That’s what I call our instinctive reaction to anything we hear, good or bad.
If our reaction is happy butterflies—surprise, delight, the feeling that you’ve just been lifted up—whatever caused it was a good thing and you should go with it.
That doesn’t mean it will be easy to work through, but it does mean that ultimately it is in sync with your journey in life.
If, on the other hand, the reaction is sad, or frightened, or topsy-turvy butterflies, you should think a bit more about what you’re being asked (for, to do, etc.).
That doesn’t mean topsy-turvy butterflies are always bad, but it does mean that you have to look more closely at the situation and do some more research and thinking before making a decision.
What is One Thing about Yourself that Would Surprise Most People?
I wasn’t always a confident optimist, which is how I think most people see me. I was a very shy child, timid and hesitant.
You know how you ask kids what they want to be when they grow up?
Well … I didn’t want to be anything when I grew up, I just wanted to be good enough for someone to marry. Isn’t that sad?
I’ve worked really hard to address issues like self-doubt and impostor syndrome, and continue to do so every day. I didn’t even really understand the difference between being assertive (ok) and aggressive (not ok) until fairly recently.
I still have my moments when I just feel flat, or blue—who doesn’t?—but the difference now is that I don’t get sucked into it. I know I’m worth something (a lot!), and I’m not going to apologize for being different or say that my success is a (complete) fluke.
If You Could Achieve Everything You Ever Wanted in Life, but Had to Die 10 Years Sooner, Would You Make that Trade?
Because I don’t think we know everything we want.
In addition, it changes with time.
So what I wanted—or thought I wanted—10 years ago is not what I want (or think I want) today.
The universe has its plan for me, and I trust that it will leave me on earth as long (or short) as is necessary to achieve it.
What Industry Advice or Practice Would You Most Like to Cry Foul On?
Rubbish metrics. There is a LOT of talk about new metrics, such as the Barcelona Principles, all of which is good, and I give props to organizations such as PRSA, AMEC, and IPR for the work they are doing in this area. But the bulk of practitioners are still getting away with rubbish metrics, and there’s no one to call them on it.
This is also perpetuated because nine times out of 10 people equate “PR” with “media relations,” and then they fall back on advertising equivalencies and other rubbish metrics to “measure” PR.
We won’t get beyond rubbish metrics until we stop equating PR to publicity, because to only focus on publicity is not strategic.
What is the Best Book You’ve Read in the Past Six Months?
The Time of My Life: A Novel, by Cecilia Ahern. It’s about a woman who gets invited to an appointment with (her) Life.
She does everything she can to avoid it, but ultimately has to face him.
Life then becomes firmly entrenched in her life [sic], and it’s fascinating to follow her on her voyage of self-exploration and discovery.
Why Does Spin Suck?
Because it makes you dizzy and who likes to be dizzy?
Where You Can Find Shonali Burke
You can also find her blogging on the infamous Spin Sucks.
And, if you ever need someone to do training for your organization, she is spending a lot of time on that side of her business this year so you should call her!