College of Fellows and Life Members Chair, Jackie Curtis: ‘PRINZ has a space for everyone’

college of fellows

PRINZ Fellow Jackie Curtis credits trusting relationships as part of the success behind boutique PR firm, Cherry Red Consulting.

As Managing Partner, Jackie works alongside her business partner and daughter, Rebecca, providing strategic, digital and media services to a diverse client base.

“We are very lucky with the clients that work with us. We have a very trusting relationship which means they invite us to be involved in the intricacies of their businesses,”” says Jackie.

With a busy family and personal life featuring two daughters and four grandchildren, it’s a good thing Jackie has the backing of what she describes as “a great team and amazing clients” at Cherry Red.

“Part of the reason we set up on our own was because I wanted more flexibility in my lifestyle.  

“I enjoy doing lots of stuff other than work – I am a member of the Family Planning Council and on their Finance and Risk Committee, spend time with my daughters and grandchildren, swim, walk and do Pilates.

“Oh, and there’s a husband in there too,” Jackie adds good-naturedly.

Enriching experiences for Fellows

This year, Jackie stepped into another significant volunteer position: Chair of the PRINZ College of Fellows and Life Members.

When her own Fellowship was conferred in 2001, Jackie says it was a high point in a career that has included senior roles in both public relations and general management.

“I was really privileged to be made a Fellow. For me, it as an acknowledgement from my peers that I had contributed to the sector, and that I take a professional approach to what I do,” says Jackie.

Earlier in the year Jackie coordinated a survey of PRINZ Fellows to find out what they want to see from their professional membership organisation.

“It’s clear that Fellows enjoy being engaged with PRINZ, but their needs are different to members in other stages of their careers,” says Jackie.

“They are interested in topics such as the wider political environment, governance training, and targeted conference sessions.”

“It’s also been a while since the criteria for becoming a Fellow was reviewed, so there’s a great opportunity to check that we’ve still got it right.

“We want to continue making sure the Roll of Honour reflects the immense value our Fellows offer to the industries they work in.”

Building communities of practice

Jackie says that in her early career the availability of mentoring and industry support was very limited which presented challenges for people working in public relations at the time.

“I left university with a degree in English literature and secured a job as a PR Officer with the Fishing Industry Board,” says Jackie.

“At that stage, there was little – if any – industry support and it’s great to see the growing influence and strength of PRINZ today.

“PRINZ helps build best practice philosophy, and it provides a professional community so you know you are not alone.

“You can bounce ideas around, talk with others in the sector, test things, align yourself with best practice, and get help if you need it.

“I really missed that early in my career, and I see the value of that connection for people coming into the industry now.”

A space for everyone

Jackie firmly believes there are always new opportunities for learning and contributing to a thriving PR profession in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“It doesn’t matter how much experience or knowledge you have, comms people are always looking for ways to do things better,” says Jackie.

“I think it’s really important that PRINZ acknowledges there is a space for everyone, at every stage of their career.

“It’s like a circle: later on in your profession, it’s about putting something back into the profession – whether that’s mentoring, judging awards, participating in examination, or giving your time.

“When you’re starting out, it’s more about learning and connecting – although I also know there’s a whole lot of areas that newer professionals can be leading on behalf of the sector. We’re entering a new era.

“Much like the changes brought about by the internet, social media has really shifted things. We’re in a new phase of change, grappling with new technology, and new issues that arise when we engage with new ways of working. Things like misinformation and cancel culture.

“I think PRINZ can play a really big role for us all in this environment. It can help provide guidance and advocacy, help us avoid bad decisions, and maximise opportunities.”

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