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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.

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On the Case With… Art Stevens, APR, Fellow PRSA

August 19, 2015

Art Stevens
Art Stevens

Art Stevens, APR, Fellow PRSA, has been a PR professional for more than 40 years. He is managing partner of The Stevens Group, a consulting firm that facilitates PR agency mergers and acquisitions, and consults with agency owners on operations and profitability.

He also founded and managed LobsenzStevens in New York before Publicis Groupe eventually acquired it, and created the original mentoring program for PRSA-NY.

Stevens has been an officer on the PRSA National Board, a past-president of the New York Chapter of PRSA, chairman of the Tri-State District and an executive committee member of the Counselors Academy.

He is the author of “The Persuasion Explosion,” a non-fiction book about the role of public relations in contemporary American society, and “Sanibel Shell Shocked,” an anthology of his humor columns that were originally published in the Sanibel Islander.

Stevens is the recipient of a number of prestigious awards for his service to the PR profession, including the John Hill and Patrick Jackson Awards for lifetime achievement. He has written and lectured extensively about public relations in both trade and national business media.

“Public relations, as a profession, has come of age,” Stevens says, reflecting on what he’s learned throughout his career. “It attracts top people, counsels thousands of corporations and organizations, makes use of sophisticated communications techniques and is involved in almost every phase of contemporary life.

“Through PRSA’s efforts, PR standards of performance are at a peak. Regardless of how technology changes our way of life and the manner in which we communicate, truth, transparency, full disclosure and integrity are characteristics that are impervious to social change.”

Name: Art Stevens, APR, Fellow PRSA

Childhood ambition: I wanted to be a sportscaster, radio announcer or actor.

Current livelihood: Managing partner of The Stevens Group

What changed: I started as a textbook editor at Prentice-Hall. I got bored editing textbooks on soil and agriculture. There was an opening in the corporate PR department. I applied, got it and my life was forever changed.

First public relations job: Assistant to the director of public relations at Prentice-Hall. One year later, I was promoted to director of public relations and reported to the president.
What you know now that you wish you’d known then:  To trust myself more and speak up. I should have stood up more strongly for my viewpoints and instincts.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received: To be a good listener — mutual trust is better served by being a sounding board rather than a know-it-all.

Greatest professional accomplishment: Building one of the most respected independent PR firms in the country, LobsenzStevens

If you weren’t in public relations, you would be:
A singer, writer, actor or author

Desired legacy: To be respected for my contributions to the PR profession as an agency owner, national PRSA officer, author, lecturer and mentor — and remembered by the many friends I have accumulated throughout my career.

Make a “business case” for public relations: Public relations is a positive force in our society because it assists in the presentation of all points of view. Many crises could be averted if these organizations and institutions consistently practiced the elements of good public relations — honesty, openness and candor.


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