Diane Ako, Director of Public Relations

Ugh. Can’t stand being home sick, but I am. Just ate my first truly solid meal since Friday, so let’s see how things go down, and stay down, and come out. Haha. Whatever. No one ever accused me of being glossy when it came to my writing.

Which might be why I think public relations is one of the hardest jobs in the world. It’s where the big bucks are. It’s glamorous. It’s 24/7. It’s true dedication. In public relations, you cannot clock out at the end of the day, because at the end of the day there are cocktails, dinners, and out-of-town guests (clients) to schlep around.

Congratulations to Diane Ako, former Honolulu TV news anchor and now Director of Public Relations for the Halekulani Hotel.

Holy crapola, Kiddo. That’s a monster title, even if it were going to some well-seasoned Public Relations Society of America big cheese here in Hawaii. That’s a massively high-profile job, and I give the hotel a lot of credit for their faith in you. And you’ve got a toddler! I wish you truckloads of luck. It’s quite possible that because the property is so glamorous, well known, and respected, your new career will be smooth sailing.

I learned the hard way that public relations is not journalism, but maybe being a TV personality will help Diane ride it out if and when trouble ever hits.

Granted, my only real experience with PR was with two ’boutique’ firms. Those who knew me then should be assured they taught me a lot. Sure, I learned how to put together a press release, organize a press conference, and generate media interest. I enjoyed meeting up with former colleagues from the daily newspapers, or with TV reporters to not only share my news but to catch up with theirs, too. In fact, Hawaii’s journalists are a tight bunch, as witnessed by the annual Gridiron put on by the Society of Professional Journalists. We love each other and we love to scoop the hell out of each other, too. Muah!

But I also learned that I didn’t really fit in the mold of an agency PR type. The shoes hurt. Hose in the summer is ridiculous! It’s also hard to work all day and then entertain guests because the boss said so. And the duplicity I witnessed astonished me. I’d walk out of meetings to hear my boss rant at how stupid the clients were. The first time that happened I felt I was T-boned by a reality check so hard I knew I didn’t belong.

What is nice about those experiences is the friendships that began back then and still exist.

I now am a writer for Hawaii Medical Service Association. Within our Marketing and Communications department is the unit that does public relations, puts on public information events, pops up booths at fairs and other gatherings to spread the good word of healthy living. They FLY by my cube. They FLY by my cube while TALKING on their phones with my friends the journalists and event organizers. The huge difference is that our message is of HEALTH (loaded, of course), and we as individuals don’t have to look out for the water client, the car salesman client, the restaurant client, the guy who wants some PR for his book that will go nowhere client.

What I think helps us succeed in our professions is a belief that what we do as individuals benefits others. I love being involved with health care. Wrapping my head around health care reform is brain blistering, but I’m determined to make sense of it so HMSA’s members and providers can understand it, too.

So Diane, believe in your property, believe in yourself, and always be truthful. Because at the end of the day there’s that little someone who totally believes in you. You know you want her to be proud.

By lavagal

Hawaii Kai wife and mom. Melanoma Stage 3a Cancer survivor. English Language Arts teacher, English Learners Coordinator, and Paraprofessional Tutor. Super sub teacher. Dormant triathlete. Road cyclist and Masters swimmer. Gardener. Mrs. Fixit. Random dancer. Music Curator. A teenager trapped in an aging body. Did you know 60 is the new 40? It is.


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