Probably the most revealing scene towards the end in the Wizard of Oz came when the wizard told Dorothy, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” No one in the audience noticed Keenan Emery behind the scenes making magic for PRSA Oregon’s first ever virtual Spotlight Awards show. They didn’t have to because of his flawless work in graphics and at the controls driving the Zoom presentation.
Kennan is just one of several volunteers who helped make a great impact during a turbulent 2020 thanks to the stellar team at his previous agency, VanNatta PR in Salem.
Keenan has worked in PR for the last three years serving clients in various industries including retail, development, tech, and medical care. It’s a great fit for him and combines all of his passions in writing, graphic design and sales.
He’s a graduate of the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication and knows the state well. As a native, he lived in more than seven cities here. Keep an eye out for him on hiking trails or snowboarding up at Mt. Hood. He’s even been backpacking on the Pacific Crest trail near Canada!
Much like his time out in nature, his career is on the move. He recently landed a great new role at Matter Communications in Portland as an Account Executive. Let’s get to know Keenan better.
What are you reading these days?
Like many PR pros, I read often. I am halfway through the Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson (book four in a ten-part series). I also have a deep interest in cocktails and the craft and history of spirits.
What’s your favorite hobby?
Right now, it’s snowboarding. But if you know me, you know that I am constantly reinventing myself and trying new things. My favorite recent hobbies have included vegan cooking, stock investing, and fine tuning my at-home fitness routine.
Where would you travel right now if you could?
New Zealand. I want to visit the hobbit village from the Lord of the Rings movies.
What have you learned about yourself in quarantine?
I learned how strong my mental health is. Even when times are hard, it’s going to be okay. I am so fortunate to be a living, breathing human being on the planet earth.
What’s a new interest you found during quarantine?
I discovered that I am a strong distance runner, though a slow one. I ran consistently during quarantine and even completed a half-marathon. I found that being active and taking time to get outside is vital for me. Also, why are there so many rocks on the road? Why are hills so steep? How do I step on every single branch in my path? Questions we will never know the answer to…
If you weren’t in communications, what’s another job that you thought about trying?
Architecture. I suspect my tragically poor math skills would hold me back in this industry, but I have always loved construction and development. I enjoy looking at renderings and floor plans. I worked with an architecture client and helped them write their 40+ page proposals (in response to RFPs). It was time-consuming, but I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and sport of using strategic writing and design to win a contract.
Fortunately, I am working in the perfect career for me. A career in public relations isn’t ‘work’ for me, it’s something I genuinely love doing.
What has PRSA Oregon meant to your career?
For me, the coolest part of being involved in PRSA Oregon was my role in the Spotlight Awards last month. I met many PR pros and made meaningful connections. I was honored to create the slide deck for the presentation.
Also, the Spotlight Awards are HUGE because winning an award communicates value to clients. Taking the time to fill out the award submission will pay off later.
If you’re interested in meeting cool people like Keenan and spending a little time volunteering with PRSA Oregon, just fill out this form. You can help us plan and promote an upcoming event, or connect with volunteers or mentors.
Shawn Floss spent several years leading internal communications and employee engagement for KinderCare Education and TriMet after more than a decade in journalism.
He volunteers for PRSA Oregon and served as a membership director. He’s also a part of the national executive committee for PRSA’s employee communications section.