Angela Klinske is a senior director in Lambert’s Grand Rapids office bringing nearly 25 years of experience in public relations and communications strategy. She spent the past 10 years in healthcare, where she consulted and served as director of External Relations and PR for Trinity Health Michigan, and prior to that, as communications director at Mercy Health in West Michigan. As director, she successfully led teams in strategic communications, media relations, issues/crisis management, internal communications, change management communications, and social media. Meet Angela Klinske:
What made you choose the career you’re in?
Public Relations and healthcare found me. I studied advertising with a career goal to move to a big city and work for an agency. Life plans brought me to West Michigan, and I landed my first job in agency PR without really knowing what it was and then finding that I really loved it. I enjoy the storytelling and relationship building aspect of PR, and as PR and marketing become more integrated, my education and experience have opened a nice niche to do both. Healthcare was not my first, second or even third choice for industries to work in, but an opportunity opened up and I tried it. I ended up in that role for nearly 10 years. Healthcare is complicated and dynamic and runs the gamut of integrated delivery systems to life sciences to biotechnology and beyond. Healthcare leaders often have the opportunity and responsibility to be pillars in their community, and I enjoy helping them succeed in that.
What do you enjoy most about it?
People are very passionate about their brands. They build companies to serve a higher purpose. I feel that my current role is to help passionate business leaders protect and promote their brand to the highest extent possible. My passion is to communicate effectively and with intent. Public Relations is very broad in scope. It requires strong communication and impeccable writing skills and the ability to help a client or organization effectively connect with their publics.
After spending many years on my own serving smaller clients, then working inside a large health system, I’m excited to return to the agency side at Lambert, to service clients in the healthcare and health tech industries.
What is the biggest obstacle that you’ve had to overcome on your path to success? OR What is the one thing you would have done differently on your path to success?
In a world that seems outspoken and with so many who feel the need to be heard, it can be hard to keep up with all of the information—good, bad or misinformed. There’s the proactive PR, then there’s the reactive because you’re trying to correct misinformation, compete in a noisy society and stand out among so many brands, not to mention the social media platforms at everyone’s disposal. PR has changed a lot in the past 20, and even the past five, years, and it’s necessary to always be pivoting and trying new things to keep accurate, relevant information at the forefront and to stay top of mind for stakeholders.
Really effective PR takes time to build, and I sometimes wish I wouldn’t let others’ impatience drive me, and that I would take more time to educate clients on the long game of PR. We want quick wins and miraculous results. The best relationships, including those with our key internal stakeholders, the media and the community, take time and effort to build and maintain.
What qualifications are needed to succeed in your industry?
The ability to communicate effectively and strategically. Strong writing skills are a must, as well as the ability to articulate complex information to various populations. PR practitioners need to be always reading and always writing to continuously sharpen their skills. They also need to be ready to jump when a timely opportunity comes to talk to the media or the public about current issues and events—and when to engage in appropriate conversation and when to stand down from the chatter. Client management is another key skill that takes experience and relational aptitude. It’s being intentional in the details while focusing on the big picture.
What daily habits help you stay successful?
I take time every day to read the news—both industry specific and mainstream. I tend to focus on the topics of my industry, leadership and innovation. I learn a lot from others’ ideas. I also spend time journaling every day to help process my thoughts, reflect on key learnings and to build and execute on ideas.
What advice do you have for someone who is interested in getting into your industry/line of work/business/career path? OR How can professionals increase their chances for success in your line of work?
Public Relations requires more than a nose for news. It also requires the ability to decipher misinformation and good information and help audiences be confident in the message you’re sending. Successful PR practitioners build solid relationships with stakeholders, including community leaders, media professionals and legislators. They are interested in the world around them and have a penchant for helping others understand the world around them.
It’s also very important to connect with other people, and making time to do that, even if it has to be virtually for now. PR is a people-centered line of work, and as an introvert, it takes effort and intention to stay connected.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Good public relations is not done in a vacuum. It takes creativity, collaboration, intention, connection and confidence, along with some luck and good timing. PR is fun, and for those who like change, PR is ever-changing and challenging. If you are a business owner or leader, do not be afraid to reach out to a PR professional who can provide the bench strength to build and execute effective PR strategy for your brand. Like you would hire a financial advisor, a mechanic or a professional coach, solid PR counsel and support is essential too.