Loyola Marymount University - Bachelor of Arts, Communication Studies
If we ran a PR agency, we'd want Emily Scherberth on our team leading the way. As the chief connections officer of Symphony PR & Marketing, a firm she founded in 2008, she brings more than 15 years of experience developing marketing strategy, branding initiatives, product launches and media relations campaigns for digital media, technology, automotive, CPG, travel/hospitality and sports companies to her business.
Before launching Symphony PR & Marketing, Emily was the vice president of the consumer technology practice at Allison & Partners. During her tenure, Emily led the company's competitive pitch for YouTube, which became the agency's largest client in September 2006. In addition to designing the reactive media relations response process for the online video leader, Emily provided internal communications support, strategic counsel and spearheaded major stories such as the “Best Inventions of 2006” and the “Persons of the Year” in TIME magazine.
As a senior member of the country's most respected agencies, Emily performed award-winning work for high-profile brands including Yahoo!, Citysearch, Match.com, Nike, Nestlé, General Motors, Ford, Mitsubishi Motors, Automobili Lamborghini, Hilton Hotels Corporation, Boost Mobile and SBC (now AT&T). In addition, she received a 2007 PRism Award, a 2003 IABC Gold Quill Award, a 2003 LACP Magellan Award, and is WOMMA-certified in social media marketing.
Emily also is a part–time professor at Loyola Marymount University (her alma mater) where, since 2007, she's taught two upper division courses on public relations strategy and social media.
This PR maven also is the kind of girl we'd like to hang out with. She's an avid traveler who tries to go on at least one big trip and a few smaller weekend escapes every year. She is a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan who lives for Sundays. And her go-to solution when she needs to hit the "reset" button? A massage, which she tries to get regularly.
I've always stuck to my guns -- even when it made me unpopular.
How did you discover your current job?
I’ve been working in PR for a little over 15 years now, but after being frustrated with the way many PR agencies operate, I decided to go out on my own about three years ago. Having my own company allows me to maintain higher standards for client service while achieving a much healthier work/life balance -- the best of both worlds! And my teaching career is something that was offered to me by a former professor at LMU. I’m so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to give back and help my students with their burgeoning PR careers -- it’s by far the most fulfilling professional experience I’ve had.
What is your typical day like? What types of things do you do in your job?
Ahhh -- there really is no such thing as a typical day when you work in PR and that’s what I love about it! But generally, I spend a lot of my time providing clients with strategic marketing counsel, working with the media to generate coverage that will drive traffic/sales for my clients, and writing/refining press materials, emails and other forms of communication. Being a sole practitioner also means that I have to spend considerable time networking and attending industry events to remain visible and keep my new business pipeline filled.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I work with a lot of early-stage startups so the most important part of my job is creating a differentiated position for them that will attract media attention, strategic partners and ultimately investors. The most rewarding part comes when my strategy works and I get to play a valuable role in helping them succeed.
What is the most challenging part?
I think the most challenging part is working with clients who are poor communicators or who don’t really understand PR. It’s important to have that ongoing dialogue, but when clients are too busy to have a weekly call or forget to pass along crucial information, it’s frustrating for me because it limits what I can do for them.
What is the biggest personal sacrifice you have to make because of your job?
For many years it was my love life -- my career was definitely my priority. But now, I don’t feel that I need to make any huge personal sacrifices -- I’ve finally learned the art of balance!
What is one lesson you've learned in your job that sticks with you?
It’s hard to pick any one lesson, but if I had to boil my success down to its essence, it would have to be a strong belief in myself. I’ve always stuck to my guns -- even when it made me unpopular. But that firm adherence to high standards and the Golden Rule helped me form valuable relationships that have formed the foundation of my business today. I think it’s important for women especially to be willing to sacrifice being temporarily “liked” for the longer term benefits of being respected and finding their own internal validation.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for women today, particularly females in your industry?
There’s still a lot of discussion going on about why women represent only 15 percent of the C-level positions out there and why there are far fewer females in engineering/scientific professions, etc. But I think we need to reframe the discussion away from what’s wrong and focus on what’s right. Women are better managers, make better investors and we’re more empowered than ever before to find and become successful in careers that fulfill and challenge us. Read this if you don’t believe me: Why Women Are Better At Everything.
So I’d say the biggest challenge is to keep our eyes on the prize and do everything we possibly can to support the other women around us. As Madeline Albright said, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
Who are your role models?
My role models are people (male or female) who are committed to living an authentic life -- people who aren’t afraid to chart and follow their own unique path.
What are some of the rules you live by?
First and foremost -- the Golden Rule (do onto others as you would have done to you). I also try and smile at every person I walk past every day. Makes me feel good and you never know -- smiles sometimes have the power to turn around someone’s day.
What advice do you have for girls who want to be in your industry?
Get internships, learn to network and ask a lot of questions.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Doing much of the same -- continuing to run my own company, teaching at LMU and hopefully chasing a couple of little ones around.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’d love to hear from other members of the IWHJ community and encourage anyone who is interested in pursuing a career in PR to get in touch!