Long before he could call himself “CEO,” Jeff Pizzino was living in a small Italian-American community in Milwaukie, Wisconsin with his family in 1916. His grandfather moved his family there from Italy when Pizzino’s father was very young, and his family has been living there ever since—but not Pizzino.
While Pizzino stayed connected with his heritage by learning Italian and gaining a dual citizenship, he branched out in his horizons from state to state to explore the field of public relations (PR). When Pizzino left a small internship in Utah for a position in New York City at a top-10 PR firm, he expected to be satisfied, but the satisfaction never came—he wanted to be his own boss.
“Even though it was awesome to start my career at a top-10 PR agency in New York City, there were way too many ladders to climb to gain more responsibilities,” Pizzino said. “I thought I had the skill set to do more than build news media lists, make copies and make coffee.”
Pizzino traveled back to the west and started building his own ladder. For more than 20 years, he went back and forth between trying out a new business and joining an organization, until he reached his dream of owning his own business. In 2008, Pizzino started his PR firm, Authenticity PR, and successfully runs the business today. Pizzino never settled for a job below his potential, and he never missed an opportunity to help himself get to where he is today. Here are three tips we can learn from Pizzino about scaling our individual work ladder:
1. Seize every opportunity. For a time, Pizzino worked at The Jefferson Institute, a school for entrepreneurs and investors, in Springville, Utah. Although he was an employee, not a student, he took advantage of the opportunities at the Jefferson Institute to learn how to build and market a business—no doubt a skill he would need in the future.
“I had the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s leading experts in marketing and advertising copywriting,” Pizzino said. “It was there I learned how to write promotional copy, what was dubbed ‘salesmanship in print.’ Having that skill has been invaluable in not only writing pitch letters to the press, but it also allowed me to expand my skill set so that I can write marketing collateral, website copy and more.”
2. Never stop learning. Even though Pizzino kept himself busy with work and building a family, he went on to get his MBA at Western International University in 2008 (the same year he started his PR firm) and received his APR credential in 2010, that fits perfectly with one of his mottos: “Learning never ends!”
3. You can bring PR everywhere you go. Pizzino could travel back and forth from state to state because, everywhere he went, he found organizations that needed PR. One reason he chose to go into PR in the first place, came from the field’s variety and creativity.
“Public relations has so much variety,” Pizzino said. “As such, it offers many opportunities to be creative and to never be bored. PR also touches so many aspects of a company. In a sense, every communication in an organization affects its public relations, especially in regards to establishing mutually beneficial relationships with its key stakeholders. How a company markets, advertises and sells itself is part of its PR. Reputation management is a PR function. PR should act as the conscience of a company.”
Written by Heidi Zundel