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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… Helio Fred Garcia, APR

January 4, 2016

Helio Fred Garcia, APR
Helio Fred Garcia, APR

Helio Fred Garcia, APR, is president of the crisis management firm Logos Consulting Group and executive director of the Logos Institute for Crisis Management & Executive Leadership. Based in New York, he is a coach, counselor, teacher, speaker and writer.

He has served on the New York University faculty since 1988 and has received awards for teaching excellence, for outstanding service and for 25 years of service in teaching. Garcia is an adjunct professor of management in NYU’s Stern School of Business Executive MBA program. He is also an adjunct associate professor of management and communication in NYU’s Master’s in Corporate Communication program in the School of Professional Studies.

Garcia is a senior fellow in the Institute of Corporate Communication at the Communication University of China in Beijing. For eight years, until 2015, he served on the leadership faculty of the Center for Security Studies of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich. He has also served on the adjunct faculty of the Starr King School for the Ministry – Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif., and is a frequent guest lecturer at universities around the world.

Garcia is accredited by PRSA and received the New York Chapter’s Philip Dorf Award for mentoring. He’s written several books, most recently, “The Power of Communication: Skills to Build Trust, Inspire Loyalty and Lead Effectively” (FT Press, 2012).

“2015 affirmed that effective crisis management, as all good public relations, requires rigor to secure smart decision-making,” Garcia says of what we’ve learned about crisis management from the year’s major stories.

“But so many leaders and organizations, who otherwise value rigor, throw rigor to the wind when bad things happen and make up a response along the way. We have seen confirmation that whether or not an organization emerges from a crisis with reputation, trust and competitive advantage intact is based on the quality and timeliness of the response, not on the severity of the event.”

Name: Helio Fred Garcia, APR

Childhood ambition:  To be a college professor

Current livelihood:  Executive director of the Logos Institute for Crisis Management & Executive Leadership

What changed:  I worked in public relations while in graduate school, then made the easy transition to stay in it.

First public relations job:  Manager of public relations at NYU Dining Services in 1979, which led, improbably, to a job in Edelman’s New York office in 1981

What you know now that you wish you’d known then:  The power of public relations isn’t about media, social media or communication. It’s about understanding people and groups of people; anticipating their needs, concerns and hopes; and then meeting those needs, resolving those concerns and helping them achieve their hopes.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received:  When I resisted a headhunter’s invitation to move from consumer product public relations to Wall Street M&A communication, he advised: Don’t market yourself on experience or you’ll have essentially the same job your whole career. Market yourself on ability.

Greatest professional accomplishment:  I am proud of the hundreds of students I have mentored and thousands I have taught over 28 years, and that so many of those students have become clients, colleagues and friends.

If you weren’t in public relations, you would be:  Full-time college professor or administrator of an NGO focusing on multi-religious cooperation

Desired legacy:  That I touched the lives and shaped the careers of many people

Make a “business case” for public relations:  Public relations is about making smart choices to win the trust that is necessary to secure, maintain and enhance competitive advantage.


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