Q&A with Mark L. Smith
How has your government experience added value to your work with Epoch 5 clients?
Having worked in government, I know the process, what drives the process, what shapes the decisions that are made and what can stall decisions. I have found that when you can anticipate the concerns that could be raised and answer them in advance, and when you can develop respectful dialogue between all stakeholders involved, it makes officials comfortable in their decision making process.
Why did you become a journalist and how has it enhanced your PR capabilities?
I grew up with local newspapers (in a day when there were several Long Island dailies) as my father wrote for Newsday for 35 years, so I always had a deep appreciation for the role of journalism. The field requires you to be a quick study on a developing issue and then be able to present that information so that others may easily understand it. That same skill is required in public relations.
Describe the transition from newspaper editor to press secretary.
There are tremendous similarities between the two roles so it was a very natural transition. A local newspaper editor knows the community, knows the players, knows the issues and knows the questions that need to be asked. The same holds true for a press secretary — except that he is now answering those questions that need to be asked. Knowing how a reporter needs to do their job helped me shape a government communications strategy, and is similarly helpful now in public relations
Are there special considerations working with industrial and business-to-business clients?
Positioning industrial and B2B clients requires helping them perfect their “elevator pitch” — two minutes or less describing your company’s vision and distinguish its abilities in the field to a stranger you share an elevator ride with. In today’s fast-paced environment those two short minutes are critical (unless you are sharing a ride to the top of the Empire State Building).
You’re a Suffolk County native – how do you see the county changing over the years?
Suffolk has developed and grown over the decades from the suburban bedroom communities into a region with its own strong economic identity. Suffolk remains special because while the region’s tech economy and research and education hubs continue to thrive, our tourism industry, beaches and unique towns and villages continue to offer businesses, visitors and residents recreational and entertainment opportunities that are virtually unmatched.