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As a Phoenix-Scottsdale PR Firm with a team of associates, we're honored to have been part of the Public Relations Society of America's discussion panels who helped define public relations: “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” What are key points in this definition? -Simple and straightforward, this definition focuses on the basic concept of public relations — as a communication process, one that is strategic in nature and emphasizing “mutually beneficial relationships.” -“Process” is preferable to “management function,” which can evoke ideas of control and top-down, one-way communications. -“Relationships” relates to public relations’ role in helping to bring together organizations and individuals with their key stakeholders. -“Publics” is preferable to “stakeholders,” as the former relates to the very “public” nature of public relations, whereas “stakeholders” has connotations of publicly-traded companies.  We're here to help you develop the best PR program for your organization.

Meet Paula Pedene of Paula Pedene & Associates in Scottsdale

Paula Pedene

 

Today we’d like to introduce you to Paula Pedene.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.

Sometimes challenges can lead us in a new direction.

In 2012, I faced one of the biggest challenges in my life when I became known as a “Whistleblower”. This wasn’t something I had set my sights to be, but rather it was something that presented itself to me. Although I reluctantly accepted the title, I willfully accepted the responsibility of exposing wrong doing by senior leaders within the Department of Veterans Affairs.

I was selected as the first full-time Public Affairs Officer in 1994. Our leadership team worked together to bolster the VA image and reputation both internally and externally. We worked diligently to build morale amongst the staff, to take pride in our work, and to let our VA shine in the community. We were rewarded with numerous local and national public relations awards both inside and outside government, but that came to an end in 2009 when morale and service to our Veterans declined.

At that point, I was asked by Dr. Sam Foote to expose these shortcomings to the VA Office of the Inspector General. In 2012, I was retaliated against for doing so and was “banished to the basement” for two years as a library clerk. During this “banishment” between the checking in and checking out of books, I started hearing about excessive waits and delays for veterans. Dr. Foote and I joined forces again to expose the wrong doings, however this time the story became national news and is now known as the “VA Wait Time Scandal”.

The media attention due to the waits and delays, also brought awareness of my plight, and through support from the Office of Special Counsel and my legal team, we obtained settlement in 2014. Thus Paula Pedene & Associates was born.

Although I still work for VA as a Senior Communications Specialist, that time of banishment taught me not to “put all my eggs in one basket”. That’s when I started my own firm on a part-time basis. In addition to supporting my clients, I donate much time and dedication in serving as the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade Coordinator and as a board member of Honoring Arizona’s Veterans, which supports this large scale event.

We’ve been serving HAV and others since April 2013 and thanks to years of excellent working relationships, we have numerous associates who help us conduct our work in a quality fashion. We’ve also earned status as a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business, thanks to my prior years of service in the U.S. Navy as a Broadcast Journalist.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?

We’re still in a growing phase. It’s not easy to manage a business on the side, as I’m sure many small business owners can attest, but our hope is to continue to grow it so that one day, when I am able to retire from the VA, I can continue to provide excellent public relations advice and counsel to organizations. Getting to that next level is challenging, but one that I’m committed to reach in some facet.

If it isn’t on the public relations side, I’m hoping it transforms into the realm of storytelling on the “Whistleblower” side. I didn’t know that my “Whistleblower” journey would become a part-time speaking gig but now it is. I share my case study to groups and I find it fascinating to see their interest in my story. It was truly a journey of overcoming challenges through faith, supportive friendships and in taking a stand for ethics to make a difference in the care for our nation’s veterans.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Paula Pedene& Associates – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.

Paula Pedene & Associates was established to help bring viability to organizations primarily through building relationships. Our specialty is in employee engagement, and building a culture where pride in your work is recognized. We’re big on this because we know that pride leads to morale and morale leads to culture within an organization. We consider the staff or employees as our most important customer, because the organization stems from how they interact with each other and their clients or customers.

Once we have that aligned to the organizations values, then we build that “esprit de corps” on the outside, highlighting how companies then give back to their community. It is critically important for organizations to realize that big or small you can make such an impact.

We offer many avenues to build this win-win philosophy including establishing or rebuilding communication avenues, hosting special events, informing and partnering with stakeholders and highlighting that in the community via digital and traditional media avenues.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?

Because of the interest in my “Whistleblower” journey, I did what so many people asked me to do and that was to write a book about it. I have finished the manuscript and am currently sending it for review and edits. Based on their feedback, I’m hoping we can find a publisher who’s interested in telling a story about how a family survived a tragedy when they were faced with similar odds to the parable of David versus Goliath. Although the journey affected me immensely, it also affected my family and veterans as a whole. It was a healing experience for me to receive settlement and to be named the Public Relations Society of America’s PR Pro of the Year in 2015 for my whistleblowing activities.

Pricing:

  • Communications Audit (to review and align messages to companyvalues) $7500+
  • Communications Audit implementation fees (varies depending on services) from $5 to 10K+ per project
  • Employee Morale Building Program to include survey, to recogniton program $10k (not including products)
  • Employee Morale Building Program implementation Monthly Retainer $2500 to $5000+
  • Reputation Management Program to include surveys, message development and plan $15k+
  • Reputation Management Implementation Monthly Retainer $2500 to $7500+ depending on scope
    +depends on size of company and scope of work;. Additional costs include design, printing, websites, etc.
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