Advice from a 20-year Communications Veteran 

Hands on top of each other symbolizing teamwork. Dark blue title says, "Advice from a 20-year communications veteran."

Many moons ago, I began my career at Ceisler Media and Issue Advocacy. In fact, 2023 marked my 20th anniversary at this firm. While many things have changed — such as no longer sending press releases by fax machine — the core of tried and true communications stands the test of time. 

After two decades in this profession, here are my top five pieces of advice: 

Maintain and nurture relationships 

Always stay in touch with your network and try not to burn bridges, whether it be a client contact, a reporter you trust and respect, a community leader, or whoever it may be. 

There have been countless times over the last couple of decades when people I worked with reappeared in my future in another role — as a partner on a new project, in an elected capacity, or as a client. Comms is a small world, and you will remain in orbit with many of the same people throughout your career. 

Set and manage expectations early on in a project or engagement 

This is not about limiting the deliverables or the outcome. Be real with clients about anticipated challenges, flaws in a strategy with which you are presented, and whether desired KPIs are realistic. Challenge yourself to exceed expectations, but don’t set yourself up for failure. Not every project is the right project. 

Keep learning 

You will never know all there is to know in this field. Every issue is different, and at the heart of this work, we’re dealing with other people all the time. That means there is always someone to learn from, whether a CEO or a junior associate. Every project will teach you something valuable — people skills, an industry or issue you’ve never explored, or a new technology. Go to conferences, take advantage of professional development opportunities, and ask to work on new things. 

Never undervalue your colleagues 

Ask for your team’s input, trust their expertise, and work with them as partners. And treat them with the respect and professionalism you would apply to a client because success requires teamwork, and none of us can do this alone. I’ve never worked on a project in which the result was not better for the talent, experience, and creativity my team members contributed. 

Give people the benefit of the doubt 

Emails are not always the most nuanced way of communicating and can be easily misinterpreted as hostile or dismissive instead of simply succinct. Everyone has bad days, and everyone communicates differently. People are under pressure in ways that we may not be aware of. We’re all humans with families, friends, and pets who need us. Don’t allow yourself to be mistreated, but don’t rush to judgment. 

As Robin Williams and others have said, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

Professional headshot of Ceisler Media Senior Vice President Meredith Montalto, a blonde woman smiling in a green blazer.

Meredith Montalto is a Senior Vice President at Ceisler Media & Issue Advocacy, based in our Philadelphia office.

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