Name: Meredith Ford

PRSA Member Since: January 2017

Q: Where are you from?

A: I’m a true Tucsonan, born and raised. My family’s deep roots in the community helped foster my love for this city. That, combined with my own interest in Tucson’s continued development – particularly as I’m raising my own family here – motivated my decision to join Casa de la Luz Hospice, which provides the opportunity to take an active role in our community, both in my professional and personal life.

Q: What did you study in college?

A: My course of study was anything but direct. At first I pursued education and then psychology.  Each had elements I enjoyed however I couldn’t picture myself in either field long term. In the end, with my eye on a career in Public Relations, I received a Sociology degree. You might say it’s a roundabout way of approaching PR, but I’ve found the study of how people interact and behave in a society laid a good foundation for my work.

Q: How did you get involved in PR?

A: In college, as I considered how best to align my career path with my interests, I found public relations suited my personality and skills. So I enrolled in the only PR class the UA offered and discovered how much I loved the work.

Hungry for more exposure to PR, I focused my minor on communications topics and sought out internships within the community. My shadowing of professionals at Kaneen Communications and the Tucson Fire Public Information Officer, as well as the semester I spent at Strongpoint Marketing, furthered my passion for the profession.

As I prepared to graduate in the winter of 2006, Canyon Ranch – where I had been working part-time while I finished my studies – posted an entry level media relations assistant job. I got the job and for the next 10 years, Canyon Ranch continued to develop my skills and provide opportunities for growth in my career.

Q: Tell us about some highlights from your time representing Canyon Ranch.

A: My 10+ years in public relations at Canyon Ranch, a pioneer in the wellness industry, was extraordinary. There was so much expertise, innovative programming and inspiring stories to tell. Over the years I had the pleasure of collaborating with top PR agencies in New York, the UK and Germany. Together we pitched and secured coverage in major business and lifestyle outlets such as The New York Times, The Today Show and Vogue magazine.

But I have two favorite projects – planning and attending a media event for international reporters in Monte Carlo to coincide with the christening of the luxury cruise liner Seven Seas Explorer; the program included Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli. The other was a VIP activation at the New York Wine & Food Festival where I had the opportunity to interact with celebrity chefs and other culinary talent; I even had my picture appear in OK! Magazine alongside Whoppi Goldberg.

Talk about once in a lifetime experiences!

Q: You recently joined Casa de la Luz Hospice as Communications Manager. But hospitality and hospice seem like very different fields. How do you relate your experience to your current role?

A: At first glance, it may seem my work at Canyon Ranch and Casa de la Luz Hospice are worlds apart, but their missions are actually quite connected. In my previous role, I was an advocate for a holistic approach to living well. Casa de la Luz takes the same concept – addressing the needs of an individual’s mind, body and spirit – and applies it to end of life care. Both are the leading organizations within their field and are fiercely committed to excellence in both their service and business practices. And interestingly enough, the name ‘hospice’ comes from the Latin term hospitium, which means hospitality.

Q: What do you like to do for fun?

A: My husband and I have two small children so we spend a lot of time as a family. Together we enjoy snowboarding in the winter and boating in the summer. I’m also a big fan of theme parties! I love any excuse to scout Pinterest for ideas and weave the theme into the invitation, food, decorations – oh and costumes are always a plus.

Q: Have you filled out an NCAA men’s basketball tournament bracket? Who are your final four teams?

A: True to my Tucson roots I’m a big University of Arizona fan. So I don’t really complete the brackets because my picks are highly biased – I usually have the Cats reaching the Final Four and typical foes (I’m looking at you, Duke!) falling out early.

Q: What do you think is the most challenging thing facing PR professionals today?

A: Certainly truth in communications is a hot button issue at the moment. I strongly believe as public relations professionals we have a responsibility to not only conduct our business within the framework of accuracy and fairness, but to inspire – and demand – ethical behavior from our organizations and political leaders. To quote PRSA Chief Communications Officer Laura Kane, “No matter how the technology and job description of communications officers may change, our ability to create, build and maintain trust is the most important thing we do.”

Q: Why did you join PRSA?

A: I viewed membership with the Southern Arizona PRSA chapter as an opportunity to interact with a diversified group of local professionals, gain access to continuing education programs, and most importantly, connect with those in the community who share my passion for PR and Tucson. I’m eager to get to know more members, learn from their experiences and success, and gain more excuses to throw themed parties!