My first challenge was finding the facts, fielding the calls, managing the media and its access to clinicians, patients and families while also dealing with the scope of the human tragedy. It was an experience like no other, and it called on all my professional skills, tools that can be applied to every project as a message-shaper.
From the waiting room in Penn Station to the Amtrak Acela car, I monitored email, social media and the phone. In the back seat of the cab after getting off the train in a starkly quiet Copley Square, I arranged radio and television interviews with clinicians who had been on the ground – and in the emergency room that afternoon.
I learned how to advance and shape messages from years in the trenches as a working journalist. From newspaper reporter to Massachusetts Statehouse bureau chief for United Press International, I perfected the power of words and became a master of asking the right questions and generating solid copy.
That made the transition to public relations easy, utilizing skills I honed at a state arts agency, a legislative budget-writing committee and one of Boston's premier teaching hospitals, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.