If you’ve ever met Liza Dittoe, you know she was born for public relations. Her unmatched love of the craft, enthusiasm for the business, dedication to clients and knowledge of the media contribute significantly to Dittoe Public Relations’ two+ decades in the business.
Liza began her career in New York City with ABC’s Primetime Live, giving her the opportunity to work with famed co-anchors Sam Donaldson and Diane Sawyer. She later moved to Chicago and began working in public relations at a mid-sized agency before opening a remote division of the company in Indiana. In 1999, Liza and Chris (who recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary) founded Dittoe PR out of the basement of their home, and it quickly grew into the award-winning agency it is today.
This Women’s History Month, we picked Liza’s brain about her career path, her advice to people seeking a career in PR, and, of course, why women thrive in this business.
Q: What has been the highlight of your career?
A: Undoubtedly, founding Dittoe PR and watching it flourish and evolve over the last 23 years. Running a business ain’t for the weak. Especially a business in PR where the only certainty is uncertainty. So, knowing we’ve created something so special is not only a highlight of my career but my life. I have so much pride in all of it – not just that we “did it,” but we’re still doing it and doing it damn well with the best people.
I think I get especially sentimental about it during times like Women’s History Month because it’s a reminder of the great things women are capable of. I was pregnant with our first child when we started Dittoe PR. What was I thinking? But like my mom (who started her own business, Aida’s Alterations), I had faith in myself and my public relations skills. I didn’t know how to own or run a company, but I could write a killer pitch and had the drive to figure out the rest. That’s what women do, whatever it takes.
Q: What’s your favorite aspect of PR?
A: I love the thrill of the pitch. I remember how it felt during my first PR job interview when they pushed a press release across the desk and asked me to read it and pitch it to them on the spot. I can still feel the rush. I ditched my pursuit of TV broadcasting and jumped head first into the world of public relations – and never looked back. Pitching is still my favorite part of the work we do. I can get through tough aspects of the business and tasks I don’t necessarily enjoy or I’m not the best at because I know what I do love will always remain.
Q: Public relations is a woman-dominated profession. How do you think this impacts the industry and the work we do for clients?
A: There are plenty of professions that women tend to dominate – HR, nursing, teaching, pharma – and PR is right up there. Of course, I’m biased, and speaking generally, but women are incredibly resilient, good listeners and communicators, creative thinkers and doers, and passionate advocates of anyone or anything we care about. These are all extremely positive qualities for a PR specialist.
Diversity in every industry is important, and I’d say especially beneficial in PR. Daily we’re tasked with creating irresistible stories. What better way to color it than with a perspective beyond our own? The same holds true for communicating with a client. Understanding their viewpoint is paramount to leading the account to success and might require getting input from a colleague who can better relate from experience.
Q: If you had one piece of advice for those interested in pursuing a career in PR, what would it be?
A: Just one?! My advice is to understand why. Ask yourself why you are pursuing a career in PR. What do you like about it? Is it the writing or the communication aspect? Or maybe it’s the team atmosphere or cool client work? Perhaps you know someone you admire who is in the industry? I would encourage you to figure out the answer to “why PR.” Get internships. Find mentors. Shadow professionals. Ask questions. Probe. Learn.
PR is complex. And you’ll have a lot of people and tasks to juggle. So, it’s important to have a strong understanding of why you chose the profession. Don’t lose sight of your strengths and what drew you to this exciting industry.
And a bonus piece of advice: Read – everything. Reading news helps you understand what’s newsworthy. Reading books helps you become a better writer. Spring is here. Grab a copy of the Wall Street Journal or New York Times, head to a cute coffee shop and enjoy a nice cup of joe and a good read about what’s happening in the world.