Kent Landers, APR served as the PRSSA National President and co-chair for the Champions for PRSSA while he was a student at the University of Tennessee at Martin. He is an accredited member of the PRSA and has served on the Board of Directors for the PRSA Georgia Chapter and the national PRSA Foundation.
Landers currently serves as group director of corporate media relations for the Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta, Georgia. In this position, it is his responsibility to oversee global media relations strategy while focusing on telling Coca-Cola’s global story. He works closely with investors, the corporate secretary’s office and other key financial functions throughout the company.
Before working for the Coca-Cola Company, Landers held several communications roles for Delta Airlines. In his various roles he focused mainly on crisis communication, which included managing communications for bankruptcy, a hostile takeover, a major merger and a regional airline crash. During his 12 years at Delta, his team was awarded more than 30 professional communications awards from PRSA and the International Association of Business Communicators.
Jordan McCray, a sophomore from the University of Florida PRSSA Chapter, chatted with Landers about his success and his start in PRSSA.
Q: Why did you decide to join PRSSA?
A: My involvement in PRSSA came thanks to a professor and a more senior student who recruited me because they thought I could benefit from the Society. At the time I was switching my major from biology and chemistry to communications, and they thought I could get established more quickly into the communications field through immediate involvement in PRSSA. And they were right!
Q: What made you decide to run for National President, and how did you succeed in doing so?
A: When I was a junior, our PRSSA Chapter had the good fortune of being selected to host the PRSSA 1997 National Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. I led our Chapter’s National Conference bid. Through this experience I was exposed to the vast leadership and networking opportunities available to PRSSA students nationally. This inspired me to put my name in the hat for National President in 1998.
Q: What was the most valuable takeaway from being involved in PRSSA that you have used throughout your career?
A: The power of the PRSSA and PRSA network is phenomenal. One of the benefits of PRSSA involvement is that you quickly build a network of fellow communications professionals across the country. While I don’t talk to all of my old PRSSA friends frequently enough, I know I could call any of them at any time and the bonds of friendship remain. It’s a fantastic network of smart, motivated people who can benefit you throughout your career.
Q: What is the most rewarding part about working in public relations?
A: The fact that every day is different. This is a clichéd saying in our business but it’s true. If you like to multi-task, manage a wide array of issues and be exposed to all facets of a business, public relations is a great career.
Q: If you could give young professionals one piece of advice for launching their careers, what would it be and why?
A: It’s three pieces of advice, but they are intertwined. Be interested in the world, read every newspaper you can get your hands on, and think about how changes in one part of the world affect another. We live in a very small global economy and being successful today requires a broad world view.
This article was originally published on page nine in the Fall 2016 issue of FORUM.