Interview tip: If you ever meet with Lorraine Lynch about a job and tell her you chose PR because you love people, don’t bother plugging the meter. You won’t be there long.
Sure, people skills are important. But in the opinion of this lifetime Edmonton IABC member and Accredited Business Communicator, there’s a lot more to it than that.
“It’s about strategic thinking,” said Lynch. “You have to understand the needs of different audiences, from customers to consumers to stakeholders. If you can examine a problem from many different angles and devise solutions, you’ve made the right career choice.”
According to Lynch, it’s not just a matter of “loving people”. You must empathize with them and “be the voice of those who are not at the table.”
When it comes to thinking strategically and finding solutions, Lynch doesn’t just talk a good game. She lives it.
“I took PR at Grant MacEwan when it was a three year program and finished it in 2.”
Pretty impressive when you consider that of the 75 students who registered, only 22 graduated. Moreover, she did it as an adult student.
“There were a lot of nights when I had to stay late at the library and my kids fell asleep beside me. But it was all worth it. This is one of the best career choices I ever made.”
And what a career it’s been so far. She worked in utilities, oil and gas, health care and municipal government before assuming her current position in Public Affairs with the Alberta government. Along the way, she’s interacted with prime ministers, premiers and oil company presidents. The key, she says, is in how you approach them.
“Don’t be arrogant, but don’t think that your input isn’t valuable. Sometimes what you have to say is exactly what they need to hear, so be courageous, show integrity and, when the time is right, speak your mind. You only regret the things you never did.”
One thing she will never regret is joining IABC as a student in 1984. Over the years she has served as an executive for membership and worked on the events committee. “It’s always smart to align with a group of professionals who are doing what you want to do. It’s a great learning opportunity and gives you an allegiance with like-thinking minds and skill bases.”
For the ultimate in learning, Lynch recommends practitioners to enter the Capital, Silver Leaf and Gold Quill awards programs as often as possible. “It places your work under the scrutiny of best practices and reminds you where to focus going forward.”
Although she wishes that she had done more networking over the years, she put her time to good use, raising four children and two grandchildren while sewing, skiing and doing stained glass work.
Whether you’re targeting success in your private life or your career, Lynch said the bottom line is the same: Never stop learning.
“Always stay on top of the latest and greatest. It doesn’t mean you always do it, but at least you know what it’s about. And don’t wait for your employer to pay for it. Do it on your own dime and your own time, and you’ll reap the rewards.”
Who would have thought that someone with so much experience and knowledge still has a lot to learn? But as far as Lorraine Lynch is concerned, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Profile by: Geoff Geddes, IABC Edmonton Volunteer
Lorainne Lynch has been an IABC member since 1984. She first joined as a student member.