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On the Case With…

Each month, as part of “The Business Case for Public Relations,” PRSA asks an industry leader to reflect on his or her career and make a “business case” for public relations.

More from “On the Case With…”

On the Case with Jerry Berger

June 3, 2013

Jerry Berger is director of media relations at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a 649-bed Harvard Medical School teaching hospital.

Berger was Massachusetts Statehouse Bureau Chief for United Press International and later worked as spokesman for the Massachusetts Senate Committee on  Ways &  Means.  As an assistant professor of journalism at Northeastern University in Boston, he served as editor-in-chief of “Insuring American Health for the Year 2000.”

He holds degrees from Boston University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Berger, who oversaw media relations at the hospital following the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, said that he ended up in the health care industry after catching  “the health care bug while covering the legislative debate over a 1988 Massachusetts health care law as a reporter for UPI.  And since health care is one of the largest industries in Massachusetts, it almost seemed natural to gravitate that way.”

Name: Jerry Berger

Childhood ambition:
I remember trying to create a neighborhood newspaper as a kid. I guess it was a sign.

Current livelihood:
Director of media relations at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

What changed:
A desire for a paycheck that wasn’t issued through bankruptcy court — I did a stint teaching journalism, but the desire to get back into the daily flow was strong.

First public relations job:
Director of communications for the Massachusetts Senate Committee on Ways & Means

What do you know now that you wish you’d known then:
Public relations isn’t the dark side that some reporters (myself included at one point) think it is.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received:
The best six words to say when a reporter calls are:  “Let me get back to you.” Take the time to think before you speak.

Greatest professional accomplishment:
Training some top-notch journalists and mentoring some terrific media relations professionals

If you weren’t in public relations, you would be: 

Desired legacy:
I want to be remembered for being fair, accurate and honest in all my personal and professional actions.

Make a “business case” for public relations:
PR professionals are an important bridge between the media and their employer. Honest, effective communications serve everyone well.


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