TV Host’s “Wild Ride” to Publicist :: Test Drive My Job Kelly Diedring Harris
Kelly Deidring Harris
Mopwater: Describe a pivotal moment in your career. KDH: While working as a television host, I had many PR “handlers,” and I always thought I could do their job – but better! So I took everything I learned in my real world experience and everything I’d learned in school and I apply it to my clients. My passion for animals, wildlife and conservation has lead me to pursue clients with causes that preserve, protect and provide. I love working for clients that I TRULY believe in.Mopwater: Describe your path to PR. KDH: My career path is wild – literally! My undergraduate degree is in Wildlife Biology from the University of Missouri – and I started out working in a zoo! Combining my passion for animals with my love of mass communications, I began working with Animal Planet and BBC hosting wildlife documentaries and educational shows. Because I loved PR and Communications so much, I went back to school and earned my Masters in Mass Communications from the University of South Florida. I’ve been working as a publicist/media relations specialist ever since – first for agencies representing environmental causes and pet-related causes, then I branched out on my own and formed KDH Communications where I am lucky enough to choose the amazing clients I get to work with. I love my job!
Mopwater: Describe your workday, space and routine. KDH: My work space is surrounded by snoring dogs and a squawking parrot. Really! Most days I work from my home office and my pups and my parrot don’t leave my side. I think they find PR more fascinating than I do! But many days I am out and about meeting with clients, at client events, speaking events or networking. Just this week I spent a full day on the water in a beautiful mansion at a commercial shoot with a client. Can’t beat a day like that! Thankfully, I don’t have a “typical” day at the office.
Mopwater: Describe your favorite thing about the field. KDH: My favorite thing about public relations is that there are so many aspects to it. One day I can be writing press releases and television scripts, the next day I can be organizing an event, planning a press conference or meeting with reporters.
I will absolutely be working in this field in 5 years and I hope that 5 years from now my company will have grown and I’ll still be able to go for a run on my lunch break! 😉
Mopwater: If you could work on any dream project, what would it be? KDH: If I could work on a dream project, it would likely be for a wildlife or conservation non-profit helping protect our country’s natural resources and educating politicians and the public about the importance of preserving this planet.
Mopwater: What are your most favorite and least favorite tasks? KDH: Favorite: I like to write and interact with reporters/pitching. I love booking “the big interview.”
Least favorite: Having to explain to my clients why their ideas may not work – or aren’t the “next big thing.” Or why I can’t get them on Oprah…
Mopwater: Who are some of your clients and what have you done for them? KDH: A couple of my current clients include supercollar® – the world’s first dog collar with a built-in retractable leash. As a guest-host for HSN (Home Shopping Network), I launched the supercollar® for the very first time to American consumers. I also work on publicity for this amazing product and I’ve secured local, national and international hits for them, including The Early Show’s Christmas gift list!
Another amazing client of mine is Wildlands Network – they are a conservation non-profit whose goal is to connect wildlife habitat across the country so that animals have room to roam, thrive, find mates and prosper. Our largest publicity campaign to date took place in 2011 when John Davis embarked on TrekEast – a 7,500 mile man-powered journey up the eastern US and into Canada to raise awareness for an eastern wildway – connected habitat corridors. As their publicist, I landed hundreds of local, national and international media hits including CNN, Voice of America, TreeHugger and Discovery.com.
Most recently I helped St. Louisans publicize the first-in-the-country welcome home parade for post 9/11 veterans. This incredible story grew out of a grassroots effort from two average citizens that started a Facebook page, which mobilized an entire city to throw a parade, despite what politicians are saying. As the publicist for the grassroots group, I secured local and national media including NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, Rachel Maddow, Fox N’ Friends, NPR and CBS News. The coverage this event received resulted in upwards of 100,000 St. Louis citizens lining Market Street to welcome home the troops on January 28, 2012.
Mopwater: What advice would you give someone starting out in the field? KDH: My best advice is to follow your passion! Public Relations is like sales – if you don’t believe in what you are pitching/writing about/working on – you won’t be able to sell the message to others. I recently purchased and read The Mopwater PR guide – Discover Your PR Specialty and Win New Clients and that exact sentiment is detailed in this fantastic workbook! Read it, you’ll get a lot out of it.
What would I have done differently? Started my own company sooner!