Meet Your 2015 Board, Final

In our final installment of Meet Your 2015 PRSA Board, we introduce assembly delegates Myra Cocca and Melissa Kleinschmidt.

Myra Cocca, PRSA Assembly Delegate
Company: Ironstrike, LLC
Job: Founding Principal
College: Indiana State University and Anderson University for MBA

Myra Cocca, PRSA Assembly Delegate
Myra Cocca, PRSA Assembly Delegate

Q: What’s your coolest career experience to date? I’ve had many great experiences, and I would have to say one of them is happening right now. IronStrike is part of a broader communications team helping to manage communications for a large and visible merger. We have been working on the project since September 2014 and, on behalf of 13 functions of the two companies, are responsible for communicating internally and to select external constituents. I have to give most of the kudos to my team for this work; they are doing a fantastic job.

Q: What’s one place you have yet to travel/or your favorite place you’ve visited? In summer 2012, our family traveled to South Korea for two weeks. The trip was specifically a heritage tour for our son, who was born there. It was a great opportunity for him to learn about the history, people and customs of Korea, and much more. Our family made some wonderful friends with whom we still stay in touch. A key thing that stands out from the trip was the pride of the Korean people.

Q: What was your first job? While this question probably refers to my first professional job, I’d have to go back to my very first job, a job that set the stage for my future. I was “an inventive” (aka, a little rebellious) teen and, when I was 14, decided that I needed cooler clothes than my parents’ paycheck could afford. So, I saved up enough money to buy a moped and used it to get to and from my first job in a restaurant. I was clearly underage for the job, so I worked in the basement of the restaurant (out of sight!) keeping it clean and orderly. The word “clean” is a relative term here. The job built a strong work ethic, however, and later helped me pay for college.

Melissa Kleinschmidt, PRSA Assembly Delegate
Employer: NCAA
Job: Assistant Director of Strategic Initiatives
College: Valparaiso University

Melissa Kleinschmidt, PRSA Assembly Delegate
Melissa Kleinschmidt, PRSA Assembly Delegate

Q: What are you reading now (or have read in the past) that you think other PRSA members would be interested in? I just started “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain. Often, the business environment embraces extroverts and perceives introverts as less effective leaders. The author argues that extroversion may not be a key element to achieving success after all. This book is giving me a new perspective as I consider my personality and the personalities of my peers. It has also made me rethink how I can build more effective teams, and be a more effective leader.

Q: What advice would you give to your 15-year-old self? I would tell my younger self to take more risks, and to be more comfortable with asking for anything – whether it be an increase in salary, professional responsibilities or help. When I was younger, I was taught that people would take notice of your hard work and just know how to reward you. As I have gotten older, I’ve learned the importance of being your own personal advocate, using clear, concise communication and well-researched arguments. I’d also tell her to wear more sunscreen, think twice about permed hair and to appreciate small victories.

Q: What’s one PR rule that you live by?  One of the reasons that I pursued my APR was because of its focus on adhering to and promoting the ethical practice of public relations. The willingness of our industry to promote authentic, transparent and two-way communications to create mutually beneficial relationships resonates with me. I value people who value telling the truth, and I really appreciate that the PRSA Code of Ethics is central to our national association and chapter’s mission.