By Bobby Batyko, Manager, Social Influence at The Adcom Group
Legends & Leaders moderator, Chris Lynch, APR, Fellow PRSA, has amassed a career that includes campaigns with household brands such as Dirt Devil, The Home Depot and General Motors, to name just a few.
I had the opportunity to speak with, Chris Lynch, about what he’s learned during his admirable career in public relations.
The journey for Lynch began in Muskegon, Michigan. Lynch joined the Muskegon Chamber of Commerce as Manager of Member and Media Relations. Lynch was one of only about 10 employees. In other words, everyone had to do everything.
“I learned more there than I did in four years of undergrad,” he said. “In a business sense, everything from political action to legislative action, environmental councils, workers comp, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and more.”
That immediate exposure to a spectrum of media and public relations challenges was the genesis of an exemplary career. Lynch is currently Senior Vice President at Falls Communications, a leading Northeast Ohio agency where he has worked for 25 years. In that time, he has built a client list of numerous Fortune 500 companies, and maintained a unique perspective on changes throughout the profession.
It is that same unique perspective that guided Lynch through a past national campaign with Dirt Devil involving a Super Bowl commercial and CGI usage of the late Fred Astaire. “There were a series of spots that came out during that era that used superimposed iconic figures, with the approval of the families and estates,” he said. The ad “was a natural extension of Astaire’s career, using settings respectful to it.” Even still, the ad drew substantial attention following the Super Bowl and remains a benchmark moment today, a technique recently used in this year’s Kia Super Bowl ad featuring Melissa McCarthy and the Star Wars: Rogue One movie.
After building an impressive portfolio of PR experience, the next step was to acquire his Accreditation in Public Relations (APR). That meant a ‘boot camp’ class in Cleveland with around a dozen fellow professionals, an experience he still remembers fondly.
“For me, it was a rejuvenation of the profession. We were able to debate, talk [about key issues] and inspire each other,” he said. “Everyone had experiences they could share with each other. In fact, I’m still friends and colleagues with much of my pledge class.” In a broader sense, these experiences speak to the need for organizations like PRSA in order to grow as professionals.
For newcomers to the field, Lynch speaks to the importance of expanding knowledge bases as much as is realistic. “Be as well read as humanly possible,” he said. “Be it culture, history, sports and trends. Pay attention to what’s happening on the coasts, the beltway, how it affects our clients/companies, and senior management.”
That includes studying some of the more remarkable PR campaigns and lessons. A favorite example for Lynch of simple but incredibly successful strategy: Harry Houdini. “Ahead of upcoming shows, he would suspend himself from the fourth or fifth floor of a building in a strait jacket.”
The buildings of choice – local newspaper offices.
“It was brilliant. It guaranteed front page coverage pre, during and post-show. All pure branding for Houdini, and all free. One hundred years later, we’d be remiss to think of campaigns that well thought out and clever.”
From his first days at the Muskegon Chamber of Commerce to now Senior Vice President of Falls Communications and a national leader in the profession, Chris Lynch serves as an outstanding example of the skill, determination, professionalism, and leadership new and experienced practitioners can learn from alike. The PRSA College of Fellows carries very high standards, but given membership includes practitioners like Lynch, it’s an honor well worth building a career towards.
Chris Lynch, APR, Fellow PRSA, Senior Vice President, Falls Communications has over 20 years industry experience. He earned his master’s degree in Mass Communications from Kent State University and his undergraduate degree in Journalism from Central Michigan University.
Batyko has responsibilities that extend too many aspects of the public relations, account services and marketing fields. He graduated from Kent State University with a degree in Public Relations in 2014, and is currently on the PRSA Cleveland New Pros Committee.