Hispanic Public Relations Association congratulates Kerri Allen of Cohn & Wolfe and Mariechelle Bonifacio of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers for being the October 2011 Members of the Month!

Kerri Allen – Vice President, Cohn & Wolfe – NY Chapter

What do you enjoy about PR in your line of work? Was there a moment in your career when you thought, “I was born to do this!”

Having spent the past few years on the agency side, I have explored a colorful array of clients and categories, which keeps things fresh and exciting. The most gratifying work is the communication efforts that help people directly. For clients such as the American Heart Association, Genentech and the Dept. of Health & Human Services that I handled at Revolución (before joining Cohn & Wolfe last month), I particularly loved creating strategies and stories that could improve the lives of Latinos. The American media is so powerful that when used for good, I believe it can truly change behaviors and, even sometimes, a life.

What is something not many people know about you (hobby, past job, group affiliation, etc.)?

Most people already know that I am ¡pura gringa con el alma latino! (And if you didn’t, now you do!) Those who have only interacted with me in business might not have ever caught me singing 1940s jazz standards around New York City.

What is the best advice you have ever received in your professional career?

“It’s marketing—we’re not saving lives here.” Maybe it’s my overachieving personality, but I dive headlong into projects and begin to take things very, very seriously. It’s necessary to conduct yourself professionally and to recognize that PR can and does change business outcomes and behaviors, which can affect employment, family decisions, even elections. But you must bear in mind that life is comprised of many small adventures, of which work is just one. En breve, be cool.

What advice can you provide to incoming generation of Hispanic PR professionals?

Hone your writing skills! Nowadays, excellent writing and a working knowledge of social media principals will position the newest crop of PR professionals very well. Top-level writing is a skill that — in spite of all the acronyms and hashtags out there — will always be in demand. Media content has shifted to digital delivery, regardless of language. Accepting that new paradigm, while being fluid with the ever-changing vehicles themselves (e.g. Google+), is a critical skill set that should be top-of-mind for new graduates.

Mariechelle Bonifacio – External Relations/Sponsorship Manager, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers – L.A. Chapter

What do you enjoy about PR in your line of work?

I’ve been in the industry for more than 12 years, and beyond my current day job at SHPE, I’m a PR & Marketing Freelancer (focusing on Small Business). I’m passionate about educating small businesses on public relations and marketing, and getting them visibility they didn’t realize they could attain.  Most small businesses have limited budgets and resources, so I love that I can be creative, and use social media as an integral part of their PR program.  It’s a really satisfying feeling to help a small business establish their PR and marketing foundation, and then seeing them feel comfortable in handling PR and marketing on their own.

What is something not many people know about you?

I’m currently working on a screenplay (a romantic comedy), which should be completed by the end of the year.

What is the best advice you have ever received in your professional career? ?

“Don’t forget the Brand called You!” This idea was heavily engrained in me by a PR colleague.  We provide visibility for our companies and clients, however as PR Professionals we forget that we need to make ourselves visible.  It’s critical to brand yourself now a days – get a seat on an organization’s board or participate on an industry panel (it’s never too early or too late).  As you’re branding yourself, you’re also branding your organization and aligning yourself as a key resource internally and externally.

What advice can you provide to incoming generation of Hispanic PR professionals? ?

Network! Network! Network! It’s so important to master the fine art of networking.  Social Networks are great, but it’s important to take it offline and network at industry events.  Networking leads to so many opportunities – jobs, project work, potential mentors, etc.  Once we’re settled in our jobs, sometimes we’re too busy or we forget about the importance of networking.  Every time I network within the industry I learn about new ideas/trends, PR related issues someone is dealing with on a project, or meet people that can connect me to individuals that I want to speak with or vice versa.  If you’re not a networking fan – at your next event make it a goal to meet and have solid conversations with at least 5 individuals and exchange business cards (don’t forget to follow up afterwards)!

If you would like to be considered as a member of the month or would like to nominate a member, please contact Veronica Potes (New York Nominations) or Cynthia Viramontes (Los Angeles Nominations).

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