Author: Erin Merz, M.A. APR
“I believe luck is preparation meeting opportunity. If you hadn’t been
prepared when the opportunity came along, you wouldn’t have been ‘lucky.’”
— Oprah Winfrey
My journey to “lucky” began in 2011 when I managed public relations for Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Conn. I was responsible for media relations, web content, social media and member publications for the state’s largest cultural institution. While my work was a critical part of the aquarium’s overall communication strategy, the position was heavily tactical. Earning my APR allowed me to gain more advanced knowledge, skills and abilities that weren’t constant during my nine-to-five.
Fast forward to 2013. Changes in my personal life spurred a solo cross-country move to Portland. I didn’t have a job lined up and only knew a few people in Oregon. But my work experience and APR designation gave me the confidence I needed during a big — and somewhat risky — life change.
I immediately joined and started volunteering with PRSA Portland (now PRSA Oregon). I quickly formed a network of PR professionals and an informational interview led to a mid-level agency job.
Then in January 2015, I landed my current role managing communications for Portland State Campus Rec. It was exactly what I’d hoped for when I ventured west — a position that combined my personal passion for health and wellness with my career aspirations. It was my shift from tactician to strategist.
How did APR help? Oprah Winfrey said it best. My degrees, decade of work experience and APR fully prepared me for my new opportunity managing a team and serving as the trusted adviser to departmental leadership. And maintaining my APR will ensure that I’m still prepared when luck strikes next.
Erin Merz, M.A., APR, manages communications for Portland State University Campus Rec. She’s been a member and volunteer of PRSA Portland since 2013 and served as COO on the 2016 board. Find her online at erinmerz.com and on Instagram and Twitter @erinmerz.