Employee Spotlight: Scott Gallagher, Director of Public Relations

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July 28, 2016
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Meet Scott Gallagher, Gard’s director of public relations. He graduated from Ohio University with a Ph.D. in English literature and creative writing. He learned marketing and public relations (PR) “on the fly” as the director of marketing and communications for Rogue Ales breweries and pubs. He joined Gard in 2016 after eight years as the director of communications and spokesman for Portland State University.

Scott, what exactly do you do? Describe a typical day at work.

It varies, and that’s a good thing. Sometimes I meet with clients. Sometimes I meet with my colleagues. I listen. I think. I write. I write some more. I guess that might sound boring but the topics change, as do the challenges. Sometimes I throw paper airplanes across the office just for fun.

What’s the most surprising thing about your work?

How creative it is. PR isn’t just about getting stories in the newspaper. The challenge is figuring out what is in the best interest of the client and how to help them achieve it. That takes creativity and the ability to put yourself in the position of the client, the various audiences, even the reporters. It’s also about building a brand, whether that be for a company, an organization, an event, a person, or maybe even a ballot measure. A good PR person needs to be thinking about marketing, advertising, graphic design and strategy – all of it needs to work in concert in order to “move the meter” in service to the client.

What’s the most rewarding thing about your work?

Brainstorming with my coworkers and developing creative solutions. I’m a sociable person, so I like collaborating and bouncing ideas off of them. Working alone or from home sounds very boring to me.

Of all your past experiences, whether personal, educational, or professional, what’s influenced you the best for what you do now?

Believe it or not, working for a microbrewery set me on my current career path. I had just finished my Ph.D. in English and moved to Portland with no job and no idea what I wanted to do. By a stroke of luck I was hired by Rogue Ales Brewery, presumably to write press releases. I had no idea how to write a press release nor had any experience in marketing or public relations. The owner didn’t care – in fact he preferred it. I sat across from him for hours a day while he lectured me on how to motivate people, build a brand, and do it all by telling stories and leveraging opportunities. I learned by doing, and failing, and doing it again, and again, and again. To emphasize his method my boss changed my title to Director of Leverage. But titles don’t really matter. For me it’s all about telling stories, and I’m still a creative writer at heart.

What’s your favorite activity in your free time?

My wife and I both work and we have two young girls, so most of my time is scheduled. Every Sunday, we pull out our calendars and plan on who is picking up who, or doing what when and where for the following week. While I’m probably a horrible dad for saying this, I’m most happy when I’m on my motorcycle with no destination planned and no time limit. I pick a direction and just ride. When I’m hungry I stop for a bite, maybe read a little from the book I always bring with me, and turn around when I’m tired. My oldest daughter has developed a love for riding as well, so she’ll occasionally ride with me in the sidecar – that’s the best.

What are you reading right now? What’s the next book on your reading list?

David Hepworth’s new book about music in the year 1971 called 1971: Never a Dull Moment. I like how it illustrates history through the lens of music, and how it makes me reinterpret that music as I listen to it today. It probably doesn’t hurt that it’s also the year I was born, as if I’m in some way more special because of the book’s focus. Wait. Don’t print that.

My next book will be whatever my eight-year-old daughter selects. We like to read together.

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