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Q & A With David Hakensen, APR, Fellow PRSA

Tuesday, November 7, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Catherine Roman
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Minnesota PRSA recently sat down with our newest fellow, David Hakensen, to learn more about him and get some expert insight! Take a look.


Who was the first Fellow PRSA that you met and how did they impact your career?


In all likelihood it was the late Tom Bartikoski, who became a Fellow when we were colleagues at Padilla Speer Beardsley.  Tom and I had known each other before working together and I had a lot of respect for his public affairs and crisis communications skills. He was also one of the Minnesota Chapter members who were very active in PRSA nationally and served on the national board.


Why did you want to pursue/apply for the College of Fellows?


Several fellow Chapter members hinted that I should do it, but my friend Margaret Ann Hennen was the one who encouraged me most. I thought it was important to take the time and assess my career and take inventory of what I have done over these past 35 years. 


What does it mean to be inducted into the College of Fellows? What does it mean to you personally and professionally?


It’s a great honor.  Personally, it was a challenging process to go through as it provided an opportunity to reflect on all of things I’ve done in my career. Professionally, I hope it helps raise awareness of the public relations profession and the deep experiences our senior practitioners have.


How did it feel when you received your medal at the College of Fellows dinner?


It was a lot of fun. We were on a cruise ship on Boston harbor on a beautiful night.  There were many friends from the Minnesota Chapter at the dinner, and I also had the chance to spend time with folks I’ve met through PRSA National over the years. 


What did you learn from the process? 


That it pays to be a pack-rat!  I needed some info from projects throughout my career and I’m glad I had kept some of those files. Seriously, I believe it helps you take stock of your career and allows you the opportunity


In reflecting on your career, what would you never want to change and where might you have done things differently?


I’m not sure there is much to change; I have few regrets.  Early in my career I had the chance to move to New York and work from our agency’s office there. It would have been a great time to learn that part of the business and it was lot cheaper to live there then!


What would you say were the highlights (4-5) of your career (so far)?


That’s fairly difficult to answer as it’s hard to narrow to 4-5 highlights.  Becoming a Fellow is certainly one of them, and getting accredited is another. Although it happened early in my career, being able to work on the team that opened the Ordway was a highlight. And I’ve certainly had the chance to work with some brilliant minds in our profession, especially David Speer and Don Padilla.


The boundaries between the fields get ever blurrier. It's probably a good thing in most ways, but the "franchise" for senior public relations practitioners has been the role of counselor to CEOs and the rest of the C-suite, providing them with advice that helps organizations earn and keep the support of their stakeholders. Is that role imperiled as the boundaries erode further? (Or is it already a thing of the past?) 


I don’t think public relations practitioners need to worry about losing their role as senior counselors to the C-suite. Corporate functions at the top have not changed that much – each function of the C-suite has its role, and in most cases corporate communication is well represented.  Where there are problems is when large companies place public relations/corporate communications under human resources, administration or even legal.  Then we are a level removed and often cannot provide the important counsel needed when issues are being discussed.    


You were among the first generation of practitioners who specifically trained, as undergraduates, for a career in this field. Thus, what is your assessment of the state of undergraduate education for the public relations field?


Tough question, as I do not spend enough time guest lecturing to be able to provide an informed opinion.  However, in terms of what I see in entry level practitioners, some of the same attributes have remain unchanged:  being a skilled communicator; having excellent writing skills; being curious; having the ability to manage several projects at once.  Some of these are learning in school; others are just how you get along in the corporate world. 


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