By Raysha Sally
UCM PR program professors often incorporate guest speakers into our curriculum by bringing alumni back to campus or inviting contacts to campus. Recently in Professor Tom Heapes’ PR Management and Industry Practices course, students were introduced to Eric Morgenstern, owner of Morningstar Communications in Kansas City.
Morgenstern spent his Monday afternoon chatting with students via Skype, and the information and insight he offered left a lasting impression. Morgenstern befriended Heapes at Boasberg Valentine Radford in Kansas City. They worked together for ten years before Morgenstern branched off and started Morningstar Communications on Oct 1, 1997.
Since the class Morgenstern was speaking to focuses on PR business and management, he gave insight into struggles he and his wife first faced when starting the business, but also spoke of their success. One story he told that stuck with students was that he had no job, no clients, and no income when he resigned from his position at Boasberg but the day of Morningstar’s launch was able to secure his first client. That number quickly grew from one to eight, then to 12. As Morningstar secured more clients, its number of employees increased; the Morgensterns quickly learned their family’s home could no longer act as the business’s office.
Lessons from a professional
Morgenstern’s stories regarding his personal experience, as well as his excitement helped keep students engaged in the discussion. In addition to being relatable and enthusiastic, his advice and wisdom also stuck with the students. He told students if they take one bit of information or fact from him it is to “Never (make anyone mad).” He explained the quote by saying that the industry is small and though you might “wear different jerseys and play for different teams,” it is important to value relationships because they might help you down the road. He referenced his relationship to Heapes; they once “wore the same jersey” but their careers took them to different teams yet they still communicate and utilize each other’s expertise from time to time.
Morgenstern advised students to be life-long learners and said those with a passion for learning will continue to be successful. He also encouraged students to read one business book every month. As a professional he considers life-long learners to be the best kind of people to hire. He used an analogy about the fax machine and how it revolutionized the way business was done; he explained everyone had to learn how to utilize fax machines. Now, of course, fax machines seem dated; business and technology are constantly changing and adapting and employees must be able to change and adapt as well.
One student asked Morgenstern for his definition of public relations; his response “Do good and get caught,” five simple words that put our four-year degree in perspective. He explained that as PR professionals we need to do the right thing and make it known to people that we are doing the right thing.
I challenge each and every one of you reading this to
- 1) Never make anyone mad.
- 2) Read one business a book every month.
- 3) Do good and get caught.