Member Q&A with Paige Risser

The PRSA Hoosier Chapter is conducting member profiles throughout the year to facilitate connections within the Chapter. We are pleased to introduce Paige Risser.

paige_risser copyName: Paige Risser
Position: Director of Communications
Employer: Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians
College Attended: BA from Indiana University (Bloomington) School of Journalism, MFA from George Mason University

PRSA position: Statewide Outreach

Q: What are your hobbies outside of work?

Anything outdoors and active: hiking, biking, paddling, skiing, tennis, golf, gardening.

Q: What’s your coolest career experience to date? / What’s your favorite part of your current job?

I love introducing journalists to the tribe and its culture and initiatives. Two examples of projects where I’ve strapped on my boots and taken reporters tromping through nature (in pouring rain a couple of times) to tell the story of the tribe and the important work my colleagues do: Black ash basketry is a heritage skill that goes back centuries among the Potawatomi. The emerald ash borer has endangered this art form. The Pokagon Band’s DNR is working to save the black ash trees on tribal land by releasing wasps that prey on the ash borer larvae and hopefully limiting their growth. And, in the former Great Kankakee Marsh, the tribe has restored 1,100 acres of wetlands, brought back the cultivation of wild rice, and planted native grasses.

Both efforts have made for fantastic stories on radio, TV and in print (with added multi-media on the outlets’ websites). These have been some of my favorite days, and the reporters usually say the same thing!

Q: What advice would you give to new PR professionals? 

Strategy, strategy, strategy. Tactics are the easy part; but if you don’t ask “Why? What are we aiming to achieve?” before you ask “How?” those tactics are practically for naught. I credit the APR process I’m currently going through with helping me focus on that.

Q: Did you ever see yourself working in the field of public relations? 

I always knew I wanted to write. But I had an equally strong calling to work for a mission driven organization, to serve the public. So I’ve made a career of combining them, working in communications for non-profits and government agencies like the American Red Cross and the Peace Corps.

Q: Do you speak any languages other than English?

Thanks to two years with the Peace Corps in Paraguay, I speak Spanish and a bit of the native language of that area, Guaraní. And thanks to a year spent in Egypt, I know enough Arabic to tell a taxi driver to “turn left,” “turn right,” “slow down,” and “stop here.” I’m also becoming more familiar with the Potawatomi language since starting my current job six years ago.

Connect with Paige.