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Member Spotlight: Kevin Kane

Kevin Kane is a Corporate Communications Special Projects Manager at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. Since 1998, he’s played an active role in PRSA and has held leadership positions at the local and district levels. We sat down with him to discuss the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR), how the industry has evolved during his career, and his advice for young professionals. 

You’ve earned your Accreditation in Public Relations (APR), were recently PRSA Rochester Chapter APR co-chair, and now serve on the Universal Accreditation Board that oversees the process nationwide. Why do you think it’s important for PR pros to pursue their APR, and how has it helped you in your career?
When I started working on attaining my accreditation, I was about 12 years into my career, and realized that the one and only PR class I had available to me as a journalism major didn't teach me anything about strategic communications, plans built on ROPE (research, planning, implementation and evaluation) nor the history and ethics of the profession I was in. I wanted to learn more, show I was developing my skill set effectively for myself and my employer, yet I had no interest (or time) then to seek a master’s degree - APR was the bridge. The group study sessions offered in Rochester then, and more so the peer support of about seven of us, helped everyone take the exam and accomplish the goal.

How has the industry evolved during your career, and how do you see it evolving next?

Certainly technology has changed immensely since I walked the stage at St. John Fisher College in 1988! I used a manual typewriter on carbon copy paper in journalism classes, used hot wax to do layout, and developed black and white film too. But luckily dinosaurs no longer roamed the earth, which meant that they wouldn't crush the folks at Apple and Microsoft who led the tech revolution to allow for the 24/7/365 news cycles and real time fact checking our kids know. But what hasn't changed: strategic story telling and the need for talented writers. A long-time friend and journalist recently said that we'd be out of work if EVERYONE wrote well, so we should be thankful that good communicators who can use all the tools at their disposal, and measure the result of their work, will continue to be gainfully employed and needed.

What advice do you have for young professionals entering the field of public relations?

Stay curious! The more questions you ask - the 5 W's and an H are crucial - so that you can answer strategically before you craft a communications plan, the better your career will go. Be comfortable telling the king he has no clothes, but be ready to immediately hand him a pair of pants - thus explain the problem to leadership and bring possible solutions with you, and you'll maintain management value to your organization. Too many young folks see the tactical talents - social media management, gaining coverage, etc. - as the most important thing they do, and fail to see that the strategy and effect of their actions is more important than the mere tactics.

When you’re not busy working, what do you like doing in your spare time?

I enjoy bringing the knowledge I'm regularly updating in my daytime role in Corporate Communications at Excellus BCBS to my "part time gig" - teaching an adjunct business communications class at St. John Fisher. I'm also the professional adviser for the school's PRSSA Chapter, so I try to connect as many alums with current students as possible. Additionally, I'm on committees for both the United Way and Catholic Family Center. Lastly, my wife and I are attempting to golf more often (but not necessarily well), now that our kids are both out of college and employed (happiness!)