CoynePR executive visits alma mater
By Jennifer Padilla | Published Nov. 28, 2017
The senior vice president behind one of the Top 10 Independent Public Relations (PR) Firms in the U.S.—Coyne PR— is Kean alumnus, Brian Murphy.
CoynePR was ranked No. 3 in New Jersey and New York, and No. 9 in the U.S. by O’Dwyer PR, a news website for PR and marketing communications.
Among the clients represented by Coyne PR are The Walt Disney Company, Shell Oil, Timberland, and Hard Rock International.
The ‘97 communication studies graduate has helped conduct some of the agency’s most successful PR programs, including a campaign for the 60th birthday of the board game Candy Land, which was highlighted by the famous Lombard Street in San Francisco transformed into a giant game board, according to Coyne PR’s website.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my degree,” said Murphy. “I ended up getting a PR internship in New York and I liked it.”
Murphy began his career with entry-level jobs and baseline experience, such as sales representative for a cabinet company. He said there are things about PR that you can only learn through experience.
“I watched the way others worked and developed my own ways,” said Murphy. “Internships are valuable because one firm’s way can function different from the other.”
Murphy visited Kean on Oct. 19 as a guest speaker in one of Professor Sullivan’s public relations classes. He spoke fondly of his former communication professors and his time as a student at Kean.
“I remember taking a public speaking class with Dr. Baker,” he said. “I still use the techniques that I learned in his class.”
Dr. Bailey Baker, communication professor, said his goal when teaching public speaking and other communication classes is to instill audience centeredness.
“Why should the audience listen to your speech? What’s in it for them?” said Baker. “Developing a rhetorical ear allows the student to be attentive not only to the concept of speech, but also to be
critically attentive to strategies used to engage the audience.”
Jessica Perez, program assistant of alumni relations, was present during Murphy’s visit. What stood out to her was his “obvious passion for what he does” and how his education at Kean helped him throughout his career.
“Everyone seemed very interested in what he had to say,” said Perez. “He told good stories about his experiences in the business and successful projects that he worked on, which appealed to the students.”
However, Murphy’s position at Coyne PR comes with many responsibilities and obligations. He takes his position very seriously and doesn’t stop thinking about work— even when he’s home.
“I run the risk of losing good workers or business,” he said.
Furthermore, Murphy acknowledges that he’s “in a position to build something” and believes the most exciting part is feeling like he can construct practices the way he wants.
“It’s almost like having your own company, or being a CEO,” said Murphy. “I like being able to think three to five years down the line.”
To be successful in PR you need to be a team player, able to multitask, personable, open-minded, and willing to “get out of the office” to interact with people— a topic that Murphy highlighted.
“One of the biggest challenges he sees with young people today is that they are so focused on technology,” said Perez. “They are often lacking the skill of being able to sit across from someone and talk face-to-face to develop relationships.”
Murphy believes that being able to form relationships and communicate effectively will be your “best friend” in any field. His advice for students who are pursuing a career in PR or communication is to join the PRSSA and participate in as many opportunities related to communication and PR. He added that while focusing on PR is good, students should also take classes in advertising, marketing, business and accounting, since they will be relevant down the line.
“He stressed that students needed to find what they were passionate about and use that to determine what they should do in their career,” said Perez. “He was willing to give back his time to speak to and mentor our current students.”
During his visit, a student asked Murphy what he can ascribe his success to; he said knowing his strengths and weaknesses and working with people who have those other strengths.
“Roll up your sleeves and get the work done,” said Murphy. “Th at’s a beneficial mentality in being a professional.”