by Pat Fearey
The first thing I wanted when I started my public relations business was an electronic pencil sharper. I needed to write a lot. And the efficiency and technology of those whirling blades seemed to foretell a promising future. That was 33 years ago, and I couldn’t have guessed my good fortune.
I got my start doing public relations for the Seattle Center. After a few years, I began dating the man who eventually became my husband: Jack Fearey, Seattle Center director. I didn’t want anyone feeling they had to show me special deference because I was dating the boss so I left for a short stint doing PR at the Southland Corporation. It wasn’t too long before I hung out my shingle. My first big client was the Northwest Marine Trade Association, the folks who put on the annual Boat Show. And we never looked back.
Just a few short years ago, we used to huddle around a large table in our office to assemble press kits. Today, that table is pretty much unused, a place to put the large paper cutter, which also seems like an antique. When I started, there were no cells phones, no faxes (remember those?), no desktops. An IBM Selectric was a big investment. Everything has changed in communications. Sometimes, it simply astounds me.
But technology isn’t the biggest part of the story. That’s always been the people, both who we’ve worked with and those we’ve worked for. I feel blessed to remain in contact with so many former Fearey Groupers. They are an amazing group of people, with energy and passion and good ideas. I have always thrilled in the creativity of my colleagues. The learning experience never ends.
And of course, there are the clients. I’ve been there when they’ve won national awards for projects we helped develop. And I’ve gotten the call when things seem the darkest, when tears well up as problems are explained and situations unfold. It’s hard in this business to not get close to your clients. It just happens. I’m proud to say some of these friendships have stretched for decades. I’m delighted that I’m still making new ones.
I’ll be taking a lot more of my energies out in the tennis court instead of the court of public opinion in the next few years. But I’m happy to pass the baton to someone whom I both trust and admire, Aaron Blank. Integrity has been foundational to my business. Aaron shares this value. He has the people-skills, critical-thinking skills, and social media chops to lead and grow the company for the next 30 years.
I’ll still look over the balance sheet, offer an observation or two, make connections and share ideas. I’ll come into work and continue to be inspired. And every once in a while, I’ll make sure I have the sharpest pencils in the office.