Helen Richardson ’77 spends her days negotiating endorsement contracts, developing promotional campaigns, and serving as spokesperson for major authors, professional athletes, coaches, and musicians, including renowned opera singer Andrea Bocelli.
“I don’t have typical days,” Richardson says. “I don’t know what’s going to happen when I go to work.”
As counsel to Zane Management—an entertainment and sports management, promotion, and merchandising firm in Philadelphia—Richardson’s position is definitely not a quiet desk job. Her days are whirlwinds of unpredictable activity.
But she made time in her whirlwind schedule in April to share her experience and insight with budding public relations professionals at the Fourth Annual Lehigh University Public Relations Student Society of America Spring Conference. The theme of this year’s event was entertainment public relations.
During her talk, Richardson imparted words of wisdom to the audience of journalism and public relations students from Lehigh, Lafayette College and Muhlenberg College. She implored students to strive for perfection in their work.
“If (your work) is not perfect, don’t send it,” Richardson said. “Never be the last and only person to read your writing. In this business, you can’t afford to be anything but perfect.”
`Perspective is everything’
Richardson, who graduated from Lehigh in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, acknowledged the tendency to lose a down-to-earth viewpoint working in the entertainment industry, and reminded the students to remember their roots, no matter what business they pursue.
“Perspective is everything,” she said. “Remind yourself that you’re mortal. Always remember where you started.”
Lehigh was one of Richardson’s starting points. She was the founder and captain of the varsity softball team and started as goalie on the undefeated 1975 varsity field hockey team. She also played women’s varsity basketball. In addition, she served as editor-in-chief of the Epitome yearbook and was editor of the Brown and White student newspaper.
Despite her hectic schedule, Richardson has not forgotten her days at Lehigh.
“In my life, I wear a lot of hats. But my favorite one is my Lehigh softball cap,” Richardson said. “I learned a lot in this cap—the ability to explain and express myself clearly, how to work in a group of any size, how to have fun, and most importantly, how to take my work, but not myself, seriously.”
Along with Richardson, four other entertainment public relations professionals spoke at the conference, including Dary Passarello, Randy Alexander, Suzanne Rothenberg, and Jim Kelly. Passarello is the associate general counsel of Nielson Television Ratings. Alexander is the founder of Randex Communications, a company specializing in entertainment publicity and special event promotion. Rothenberg founded Rothenberg Public Relations in 1992, and is an expert in event planning and has produced events featuring Lily Tomlin, Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings, and other celebrities. Kelly is the publicity director for Inside Edition, King World’s nationally syndicated news magazine program.
Lehigh’s award-winning PRSSA is one of 220 chapters in the nation, and is affiliated with the national PRSSA organization.