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Meet Linda Hamburger of On Call PR, The South Florida Public Relations Network

Today we’d like to introduce you to Linda Hamburger.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I didn’t volunteer for a career, and public relations was not on my radar before I went to college. My aspirations were marriage, children and home-making. Then, “woman’s lib” changed all that. Freshman year in college, I was asked, “Are you one of those ‘woman-libbers?” “Gosh no!” I responded, thinking I was looking for my M.R.S. degree (as it was called back then). I went to college to ski and have fun.

Fortunately, I had a great skill set that prepared me for my then un-intended career. I went to a wonderful school in Fort Lauderdale called Pine Crest Preparatory and those four years are what changed my life. I just didn’t know it then.

Based on a great education, I had developed writing skills and the opportunity to mix with many people from so many interesting backgrounds! I loved the Fort Lauderdale Strip which was in its hey-day. We were inspired by the music, art and freedom of expression enjoyed during that time.

In college, I interned at a few places including Channel 4, a radio station, the Solar Energy Research Institute and a community center. Public Relations for SERI and the community center were a natural fit – not just pitching a product but doing things that would make a positive difference for others.

After college, breaking in to the field of public relations – and staying in – was and is a challenge. This is a career that many consider glamorous and few know of the incredible set of skills needed. And those skills are constantly challenged to be current and up-to-date. Publicists must know the latest trends, technologies, important contacts, and how to please clients, bosses and co-workers. The output is always under review.

I tell people “I wanted to go into something different, but no other career will have me.” So, it is always one foot in front of the other for all PR pros.

My first career break was with the Greater Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency and Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce. I was part secretary, part PR person. It was the first year of the CRA and I loved being on the ground floor of a new effort to revitalize a community. I enjoyed the mixers that were part of the job. Computer software had just been introduced to use for layout and design. I was hooked.

Since then, I’ve had a lot of adventures both good and some…terrible! Bad clients, impossible requests and low wages. On the positive side: I’ve enjoyed wonderful challenges that are never dull. I take great pride in the positive changes that I have been able to make as a result of this career.

One of those accomplishments was the founding of the South Florida Public Relations Network in 2006. Facebook didn’t exist, and social media was a gleam in the eye of the internet. I started experimenting with the concept of helping others by bringing together an umbrella of all the disparate groups that serve the marketing communications field. One goal: to provide new residents and graduates a one-stop-shop where they could go to find out information on all our professional organizations. I wanted to make it easier for others to get ahead.

SFPRN member base grew rapidly. Far faster than I had anticipated. I started to use the group to teach myself how to create web sites, host events, design bulk emails, etc. That vision has been instrumental for thousands in our South Florida community and is one of my proudest achievements.

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?
It was a tough time starting out with two degrees and no job. Bad advice under one arm and no money under the other. I moved home. Someone referred me to a list of all the professional associations in our area. I snuck into them all through the back door. Finally, someone referred me to a job with the Delray Beach CRA and Chamber of Commerce. I went against the graduate school advice and told them I could type, really fast. Got hired as a part-time secretary for close to minimum wage. I was thrilled.

I don’t like to dwell on the struggles. There are ugly stories of #metoo, the glass ceiling, and the sad passing of some close friends and employers that helped and mentored me along the way.

I used to torture myself over why a job didn’t last – what did I do wrong? What could I have done better? Eventually, mostly thanks to the South Florida Public Relations Network, I discovered that I was not alone.

Disappointments became fodder for happy hour laughs. It wasn’t uncommon for five of us publicist to all say we were turned and burned by the same client! And, we each came away bewildered and with the same angst – “was it me?”

I like to cheer people up and cheer them on. I’m joking and fond of saying “I’ve been fired more than I’ve been hired.” You take a lot of hits in public relations.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with On Call PR, The South Florida Public Relations Network – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I am a specialist for start-ups and small businesses, many in the events production business. But, a great publicist can pitch almost anything. And I have. From light bulbs and roof trusses to celebrities and the largest entertainment production companies in the State.

I’m an excellent generalist. Meaning, I can set up a company with branding, media, across platform promotions and all facets of public relations and marketing communications. My entire career has been in South Florida, so I have fantastic contacts in the area.

I’ve been able to keep my pulse on the changes that our demographic and socio-economic profile has evolved through the years. Most important, to modify and change my own skills and campaign approaches in relation to those evolutions.

With the launch of the South Florida Public Relations Network, I also brought together partnerships of pre-qualified professionals that work on web sites, graphics design, serving specialty niche clients and more. On Call PR and SFPRN are owned by me, but also a part of our larger PR and tri-county vendor service providers.

What sets me apart from others include (in part): Name Recognition (people know “hamburger’); having been an early adopter of trends; being a champion of causes that I believe in – even ones with a stigma attached such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

I have a lot of awards and appreciate them all – most recently for the idea generation for 2017’s “best holiday billboards in the country” by OutFront Media. Awards, speaking engagements, being asked to help with a good cause let me know that I am on the right track even when it sometimes doesn’t feel like it.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I am never truly 100% certain of the future in terms of what projects or clients will be at my door step. Future plans include staying competitive, working on projects that I enjoy, continuing to advocate for causes that I believe in and continued mentoring for those in my field.

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