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PR PROfile: Linda Hamburger, On Call PR

Linda Hamburger

Owner
On Call PR (South Florida)
President
South Florida Public Relations Network

Length of PR career (so far): 27 years

Your most memorable campaign: The product sounded gimmicky. I was tasked with promoting a light bulb called OzoneLight, being sold as a new way to eliminate odor and germs, using only a fraction of electrical output of traditional bulbs. Its twisty shape (now a common bulb configuration) was unique to market. I took one home, and the bulb cured my kitty litter odors. That passion for my client’s product came across and led to amazing coverage. No one in the agency or even the client could believe or anticipate the amount of national attention this little bulb that could, got.

Most poignant professional moment: Using my PR and media skills to nominate a very disabled young man with Multiple Sclerosis to get featured in the Miami Herald annual holiday Wish Book. He received much needed contributions of assistive equipment, donations from his favorite radio station of music and gifts, and more.

Favorite journalist to work with: Mike Mayo with the Sun Sentinel, who has worked to raise awareness about severe mental illness and the need for changes in funding, legislation and community services. When I send Mike stories from the trenches, he responds with insightful coverage. I’ve seen him get personally involved. There are other equally passionate reporters in South Florida making a huge difference. But Mike is a talented and excellent columnist and I have read his columns for year that at times entertain, come from the heart or educate.

Your most memorable campaign: Working with Potsy from “Happy Days” fame. Anson Williams, his real name, was and is a wonderful and warm person. But what made it most memorable was when a major entertainment show cancelled an on air interview at the last moment. Anson flew in special for the spot that I was having at a client’s hot South Beach venue. Anson was very upset. I went to the TV station lobby and cried. Then, I went to a bar. Then, I started to drive home, smeared makeup and a bit besotted when the station called and said they would send a crew to the event after all. I turn my car around. No one suspected a thing and both clients, the restaurant and “Potsy” were thrilled. There’s more to this crazy story but that is for Part 2. The moral is: never let on. Your nerves may be frayed, but that smile stays on your face when it is most needed.

Biggest complaint about social media: You don’t own your network. Network rules change—for example, most recently LinkedIn no longer syncs with 2010 Outlook unless you upgrade to 2013—this happened, appropriately on April 1st of this year. Always keep a hard drive back up of all contacts from all sources.

Last time you didn’t do any work all weekend: I strive to maintain a work/life balance. I check emails but on most Sundays, the computer is OFF. My clients generally don’t have emergencies. They understand that this is a job and not a 24-hour 7-11.

What got you interested in a PR career? My first PR internship at a Denver community center. I had a wonderful mentor and enjoyed doing “happy work,” rather than heading to accidents and fires when I interned for a TV news show or sitting in a windowless booth at the radio station. I couldn’t get enough of PR from that day forth.

Number of meetings you were in last week: One Broward County (Florida) Commission meeting regarding the first Florida International Trade and Cultural Expo (FITCExpo.com) and one phone conference regarding the design, creation and future launch for a client’s web site.

Best advice to a PR student: Learn as many software programs relevant to this career as possible.

Favorite way to de-stress: The gym.

The moment you realized PR is more fun than you thought it would be: For my first real PR job, I worked in part for the Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce. It was mandatory that we attend after work socials. I could not believe I had a job where I could drink and eat for free—make that get paid for it—socialize, dress up and meet really interesting and intelligent people!

Favorite non-work hobby: I work on the organization that I founded and serve as president of, the South Florida Public Relations Network (SFPRN). This has been my hobby since I founded it Labor Day 2006. I started with under 200 names and now there are over 3,000 publicist who follow the mostly on-line networking group. I spend about an hour every day either finding and posting content, networking, planning the next event or using it as an excuse to keep my skills up-to-date. The rewards have been great. I never took a salary and consider it a service to the community and my hobby.

Last book you read: “The History of Organized Crime, Secrets of the World’s Most Notorious Gangs” by David Southwell.

Your first “real” job: With Delray Beach, Florida, the Community Redevelopment Agency and the Downtown Development Association. It was the first year of Delray’s CRA. I was the sole staff member of the two organizations. The skills that I learned on that job serve me extremely well to this day.

Childhood “dream job”: I grew up in a time and environment where women mostly didn’t work. I was fortunate to enjoy a happy childhood and a comfortable life. We were expected to marry, join country clubs, volunteer work, and home-making… I looked forward to being a Homemaker. I never expected or thought about a career. Freshman year in college a young man asked me if I was one of those “women’s libbers,” to which I said “no!” Only after college, with no “MRS.” degree did I start to think of a career. I’ve been in a wonderful relationship with the same man for 26 years. I’m glad to have had the excitement, highs and lows of this complex career.

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