SELLINGCROSSING www sellingcrossing com PUBLIC RELATIONS STAR Kathryn Holmes Johnson

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                            Kathryn Holmes Johnson: Publicist for Sterne, Kessler,
                            Goldstein & Fox in Washington, DC
                            [By Judith Earley]
                            After eloping on her fourth date with her husband and trying her hand at sky diving, it seems that there is nothing Kathryn
                            Holmes Johnson can’t do!

Johnson has known since her freshman year          Johnson said that one of the best things about      the resulting placement has a misquote or if
in high school that she wanted to go into          public relations is the relatively immediate        the attribution is wrong or left out altogether,”
communications and marketing. “I have              gratification for your work. “Once you have         said Johnson. “I try to overcome this by
always enjoyed writing, public speaking, and       planned and implemented an effort or                establishing a good rapport based on mutual
working with people to organize events and         campaign, you can see the results of your           respect. I can usually get a reporter to review
projects,” she said.                               work as you garner placements in the media.         story content with me prior to it running. That
                                                   It is so cool to pick up a paper or to turn on      is always ideal.”
A graduate of Howard University, Johnson           the television and see your story in print or on
said that her education gave her a great           the air. These results also make the people
foundation in the history of media and an          you work to get coverage for very happy,” said
understanding of how the “news cycle” works.       Johnson.
“My life and work experiences have given me
                                                   On the flipside, any time you work with
perspective on how images and messages
                                                   people, it can pose a challenge. “As in every
are received by different people. This context
                                                   profession, some people are not always on
allows me to be thoughtful and strategic in my                                                         According to Johnson, doing PR work for
                                                   the ball. When you work with a reporter on a
approach to how I craft and implement a PR                                                             attorneys provides its own set of challenges.
                                                   story and provide detailed information on the
endeavor,” said Johnson.                                                                               “They are extremely busy, and you have to have
                                                   story topic and your source, it is frustrating if
                                                                                                       a compelling reason to pull them away from the
Now she is the publicist for Sterne, Kessler,                                                          work they are doing for clients. We manage this
Goldstein & Fox, an intellectual property law          How I Got a Job                                 by identifying a broad range of media placement
firm based in Washington, DC, and has an               “My first job was at C-SPAN, where I was        opportunities from simply being quoted in an
interesting story to tell about how she found          a marketing intern and got hired as a           important news story as an ‘expert’ source to
the job.                                               production assistant. I got the internship by   placing bylined articles in trade publications and
                                                       referral from the Howard University School      legal journals,” said Johnson.
“Amazingly, I had been out of the job market           of Communications placement office.
for 0 years because I was in a job that I             Every job since then, except the one I have     “Our firm is co-counsel on its first
loved,” said Johnson. “It came time to move            now, was the direct result of networking        Supreme Court case. It was very moving
on, and I logged on to This                to get my foot in the door or having strong     to be on the steps of the Supreme Court
                                                       references from those in my network. I
position was the first job I applied for, and                                                          to conduct a press briefing after our
                                                       landed my current job because I had a
they called two days later to schedule an                                                              team came out from presenting their oral
                                                       strong portfolio and experience based on
interview. I went back for a second interview,                                                         arguments. We are awaiting the decision
                                                       all of my prior positions. I will also note
and they offered the job. I had another                that it has been 20 years since I worked at     on the case, and the media, legal, and
interview lined up but cancelled it and                C-SPAN, but I still have opportunities come     corporate interest is very intense, as the
took the job because I knew it was a great             to me by way of people I have kept in touch     case is one of the most important patent
opportunity and the right fit for me.”                 with from my time there so long ago.”           cases the court has heard in 40 years.”

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Johnson admits to being a bit overwhelmed         “For example, it would have been ideal for        or lessons. We don’t do things that take
by the amount of media in our world today. “I     me to work part-time after I had my children.     us away from our home in the evenings or
am dating myself here, but when I first came      I find that achieving balance is continually      weekends. Our lifestyle is very basic. We
into the field, the major outlets where you       challenging, but I am blessed to have a           spend as much time as we can together as a
strived to get placements were the broadcast      husband who is truly my partner. We do a          family, including sitting down to dinner every
networks and top-market newspapers. Now           pretty good job of having a terrific quality of   night and having story time. This keeps us
you have cable news and specialty networks,       life for our family,” said Johnson.               grounded and ready to face the work world
websites, blogs, etc. You have to be realistic                                                      during the week.”
and strategic about where to focus your           “I am always telling people that I am ‘old
energy and effort to make a splash in the         school.’ I say this because I mimic how my        Her advice for anyone interested in a career in
media marketplace today,” said Johnson.           parents raised me and my siblings. I try          public relations? “Be creative, professional,
                                                  to stay focused on my family and don’t get        and fearless! If you do your homework, come
“As an individual, the opportunity to             caught up in all of the extra trappings that      up with a good pitch, and make the call, the
network has been a key to having fellow PR        many people feel are important. We don’t          worst response you can get is generally “no.”
professionals to bounce ideas off of or to        have cable or PDAs. My kids aren’t in leagues     Keeping that in mind, put your reservations
get advice. It is also important to network                                                         and fear aside and go for it!” said Johnson.
in order to build a good ‘Rolodex.’ This has        Q. What do you do for fun?
been important for knowing ‘go-to’ people           A. I love to spend time with my husband (of     On tHe net
for needs you encounter, from needing a             5 years) and our girls. Our most recent
good photographer or caterer to having              adventure was sledding a few weeks ago.         Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox
good media contacts or a vendor that will                                                 
                                                    Q. What CD was most recently in your CD
assemble gift packages on less than 24 hours’
notice. As far as the larger PR community, it                                                       C-SPAN
                                                    A. Corinne Bailey Rae.
is essential to continue to offer educational                                             
and skill-development opportunities as              Q. What is the last magazine you read
media continues to evolve and to establish          A. O.                                           Corinne Bailey Rae
the standards by which we practice our                                                    
profession.”                                        Q. What is your favorite tV show?
                                                    A. Not a show—I am a QVC addict!
When asked if there was anything she would
                                                    Q. Who is your role model?
have done differently in her life and career,
                                                    A. My parents. They were married just
Johnson said she would have made different
                                                    shy of 50 years when my Dad died of lung
choices about her lifestyle so that she would
                                                    cancer in May 2006.
have more personal flexibility with her family.