On November 18, PRSA Colorado presented Pushkin PR founder and president Jon Pushkin with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the chapter’s virtual 2020 Gold Pick Awards celebration.
The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes a PRSA Colorado Chapter member for distinguished service to the profession of public relations, the community, and to PRSA. This award may be based on volunteer work for non-profit causes, leadership on a significant public relations issue affecting the community, and/or outstanding educational achievement in public relations. The recipient must have been a member of PRSA for at least twenty-five years at the time of nomination.
Here are Jon’s remarks as he accepted the award and took the opportunity to look back on his career in public relations.
I want to thank the PRSA Colorado Gold Pick committee and the Board for this honor. There is nothing more rewarding than earning the respect of your peers, so I am humbled and grateful to accept it. I’d also like to thank my Pushkin PR teammates who dazzle me every day with their exceptional work, and my wife Jeri for her constant encouragement and support. Congratulations to all the 2020 award winners.
We’re all storytellers, so here’s my story and some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
Lesson #1: Follow your passion
My career has been a long strange trip. My first job in Denver was running the Denver Folklore Center concert hall. It was heaven and like grad school for a young musician. I learned how to be a professional, how to behave on stage, and how to book and promote a tour, all valuable skills I still use today.
The only thing I loved as much as music was baseball, so after 10 years on the road, I walked into the Denver Zephyrs front office and asked if they had any jobs open. The guy said, “like what?” And that’s how I started my career in minor league baseball. It was a dream come true. I wore a lot of hats and learned a lot. So follow your passion because if you don’t love what you do, how can you do it well?
Lesson # 2: Don’t be afraid to fail
In 1997 I took a leap of faith and set up shop as a solo practitioner. It was not a smooth takeoff. I had no idea how to run a business, and my very first client fired me. But it was the right time and the right fit. So be bold. Be creative. Trust yourself.
Lesson # 3: Collaboration
My next client gave me a chance to work with a team of solo PR pros around the country. I loved the collaboration so the virtual model was a perfect way to grow my agency. Now 23 years later I’m fortunate to have team members who teach me something new every day. So look for opportunities to collaborate. It’s the key to everything.
Lesson # 4: Relationships
PRSA was crucial to my professional development. I became active in the Colorado chapter and eventually served as chapter president and then chair of the Independent Practitioners Alliance. PRSA taught me how to be a pro. I connected with colleagues in Colorado and around the country who remain my friends and mentors today. Our profession has evolved but when you boil it down, PR is still about relationships. Work on them, value them, cherish them.
Lesson #5: Never stop learning
Every good musician always feels like they still have a lot to learn. The exceptional ones never stop practicing. It’s the same in PR. When you feel like you know everything that’s when someone will show you exactly how much you still have to learn.
This year has been so challenging. As communicators, our responsibility is to help our employers or clients face those challenges with determination, grace, and integrity. I look forward to learning something new tomorrow. I hope you do as well. Thank you again for this honor, it means the world to me.