Member Spotlight with Tori Fernandes
Monday, October 5, 2020
Posted by: Renee Wolf
Head of Ad Sales Communications, Direct-to-Consumer & International, The Walt Disney Company
PRSA-NY Member since 2016
LinkedIn - Tori Fernandes
Twitter - @toridfernandes
How did you get into the PR industry?
I went to school for music business and began my career through an internship with VH1’s Public Affairs division. I worked for their Save the Music Foundation – an organization that provides musical instruments and encourages arts programs in schools around the country. That team reported into the Communications, so from time to time, I would help make calls for TV listings and follow up with mailings. A year later, I was offered a temporary assignment with Nickelodeon’s Communications group, working as an admin for the team’s EVP. I would often offer to extend my help to the team when I had free time, and the Corporate Communications team always needed help, because they were the leanest. It was an instant fit for me – Corporate Communications is often the unsung hero of a comms team. They sit in a unique position within a company and are responsible for a myriad of things.
What is your favorite PR story?
My favorite story is the one that DIDN’T happen and only a handful of people know about. I was deployed to Kiev, Ukraine on a last-minute flight to manage an international crisis for a former employer. The details of which could probably be in an episode of Homeland. I’d share the details, but you’d have to sign an NDA. ;)
What do you love about PR?
When I’m asked what I do for a living, I say that I’m a storyteller. Publicists are architects and strategists. It’s one of the few parts of the business ecosystem where you have a 360 view of an organization. You’re often at the epicenter of the action and can influence decision making. We sit in a unique position that not a lot of disciplines have visibility into. Publicists help define, shape, and pivot the narrative related to a product, initiative, program, or crisis. We’re charged with finding an angle when sometimes it’s not clear, as well as synthesizing a lot of information to extract the key points. When people think of PR, they typically think of stories – but it’s way more than that. It’s both internal and external messaging and serving a multitude of stakeholders at any given time including employees, executives, clients, the media, and everything in between. The end results whether it’s a paragraph or a multiple page spread, it more than likely took weeks or months of effort to execute. The excitement outweighs the exhaustion.
Why do you feel PRSA-NY is important for staying connected in the field?
PRSA is incredibly valuable for publicists. From driving the growth of PR professionals to keeping them equipped with new tools and services, to spotlighting case studies that lead to innovation and inspiration. Industry organizations like these are essential for the advancement and evolution of the communications field.
The New York Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America is one of the oldest, largest, and most prominent public relations chapters in the country. Located in the media capital of the world, it offers top-level professional development,
networking, mentoring, and awards. PRSA-NY serves communications professionals in agencies, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government, as well as independent practitioners.