This week we were able to catch up with Cheryl Snapp Conner. Cheryl is the CEO and founder of Snapp Conner PR, a premier business communication PR agency located here in South Jordan. Cheryl has over 26 years experience in public relations working with clients and companies ranging from start up organizations to Fortune 500 companies. Cheryl is also an award winning entrepreneur, distinguished author and contributing writer to Forbes magazine.
UVU PRSSA: I heard that you have a new book coming out can you tell me a little bit about it?
Cheryl: Well this book has been a little while in the making. It’s going to be released as an e-book around the first of the year. Really it’s a soup-to-nuts tutorial on positive business communications because too many people still think of PR as just promotions, and something that you do to promote a company or product. We really work hard to teach people to broaden their definition of communication, and the book goes through all of those facets.
UVU PRSSA: You’re the founder and CEO of Snapp Conner PR and when you’re firm is looking to hire new college graduates/young professionals what are some of the qualities that you’re looking at?
Cheryl: Well that is easier said than done but what we’re looking for is exceptional ingenuity, work ethic and emotional maturity. Someone can be so talented but if they’re lacking that professional maturity it’s a bad thing. We really stress writing ability; that is more and more important. Also, the ability to be a self-starting and to work well with teams.
UVU PRSSA: What advice would you give to our chapter members to help set themselves apart from other candidates?
Cheryl: I spoke to one of the PRSSA groups and really recommended they do actual PR campaigns either within the campus agency or as a sample project for business or non-profit groups. To really demonstrate their ability to innovate a program and follow through and produce results. For example, we hired Ryan Oaks out of UVU program. He innovated the etiquette dinner that you have every year. He got it going, put it all the way through, had full attendance and had a net revenue of $5,000 through sponsorships the first year they had it. That’s impressive. If people can demonstrate their skills, basically take away the risk for the employer by showing what you can do, they significantly increase their chances of hire.
UVU PRSSA: If you had to go back to college what would you do differently with what you know now?
Cheryl: By either lucky circumstance or destiny I wouldn’t change anything, but I didn’t know it. I had the opportunity to skip English all together. I was given the opportunity to skip 31 credits in primarily math and English. I went ahead and took the credits for math; English I considered too important to gloss over. I didn’t get the chance to get an MBA. I did have scholarship offers but I wasn’t in a position to accept because I was a young married mom. But I don’t feel bad about that because the thing I was desperately trying to do at the time was get a Masters degree in English and at that point that would not have helped me further in what I’m doing right now. So it’s okay. It all worked out in the end. The English minor saved my bacon. I thought I was headed towards a plan to be a stay at home mom.
UVU PRSSA: What are some of the qualities that you have that have helped you get to where you are now?
Cheryl: I really feel full ownership for every position and project that I have had. It was a good thing and also my downfall at Novell, my first major professional position. People talked about how crowded the parking lot was at 5:00 p.m. and I couldn’t have told you – I didn’t know. It was a little bit sad and bad, but I just couldn’t walk away from the projects in process. Even though I wasn’t paid extra and nobody told me I had to work that hard, I just couldn’t let anyone down. I advanced quickly, but I really felt full ownership for my programs and I was given high responsibility at an early point. I was the only individual allowed to write on behalf of all three of the senior executives in the company. I felt that responsibility keenly. That was the reputation of them individually and of the company, and when there were sensitive things that had to be communicated I took that responsibility to heart.
UVU PRSSA: I heard that you’re trying to position one of your clients, Zenger Folkman, as a thought leader in their industry. What advice can you share on how to position a client as a thought leader in an industry?
Cheryl: Every single company and every executive has some area that they’re an expert in or that they could be an expert in. Executives should make the effort to really come into that skill set and focus far more (this is a big thing for us) on providing the world with education and interesting information about your area of expertise. Do that rather than hype and over promote and then people will flock to you. Otherwise people get so hung up on their concerns about what they want to see said rather than the value to their recipient audience. As soon as they get over that notion and start providing valuable information and interesting information the audience will come. Zenger Folkman is a great example of that. They have data – one of their standout features – they have access to so much data. They had a full feature article about in Harvard Business Review; this has been maybe three years ago. We wrote an entire PR plan around this. There were real nuggets of gold in this data. Lately, the one that is really compelling is “The 9 reasons that leaders make bad decisions”. That’s been the top read blog column on HBR for the last 30 days. It’s been picked up by TIME.com and CNBC and it’s been a great thing.
-Eric Serdar, Vice President