The Charger Blog

‘Dean of American Public Relations Executives’ Shares Expertise, Advice with Students

Robert L. Dilenschneider ’12 Hon. has decades of experience in the field of public relations, and he recently visited the University virtually to discuss the importance of effective communication, particularly during the coronavirus global pandemic.

March 5, 2021

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Zoom Call.
Robert L. Dilenschneider ’12 Hon. discussed the importance of effective communication.

Jackson Chamberlain ’23 aspires to run a hotel at Walt Disney World one day. A hospitality and tourism management major, he is particularly interested in restoring travel and entertainment safely amid the coronavirus global pandemic.

Chamberlain recently attended a virtual talk by Robert L. Dilenschneider ’12 Hon., the founder and principal of The Dilenschneider Group, a firm that provides strategic advice and counsel to Fortune 500 companies and prominent individuals around the world. Chamberlain has seen how hard the hospitality industry has been impacted by the coronavirus global pandemic, and he wanted to learn what Dilenschneider, who is called the “Dean of American Public Relations Executives,” would suggest to help the industry rebound.

“Mr. Dilenschneider has a lot of good connections, and I really wanted to hear what they were doing during the pandemic,” he said. “This was a great opportunity for me because I was able to learn good communication skills that could be used to assure the public that it would be safe to re-open hotels.”

‘Communication is so powerful’

Dilenschneider, who previously served as president and chief executive officer of Hill and Knowlton, Inc., a global public relations consulting company, has authored more than a dozen books. He offered students advice on how to communicate effectively, encouraging them to define their audience, their message, and the vehicles they use to reach their audience.

Stressing the importance of discipline and repetition when communicating, Dilenschneider discussed how the pandemic has impacted communication. He also discussed different ways of communicating, citing, for example, a former client, Whitney Houston, who communicated through music.

“We’re dealing with the pandemic and a struggling economy, but the basics of communication remain the same,” he said. “Has Zoom changed things? You bet. People can now see the person speaking. Try to communicate in a way that’s comfortable – not to you, but to your audience.”

Prof. Angelica Gianchandani, an adjunct faculty member in the University’s Pompea College of Business, moderated the discussion. A global brand strategist and communications leader who has spearheaded marketing initiatives for global brands such as BMW, Prof. Gianchandani discussed how the pandemic has changed the way people connect with each other.

“Perhaps COVID has fast-forwarded the adoption of technology, and we’re all learning that change is constant,” she said. “We’re learning how to pivot. It’s also enforced the importance of kindness, empathy, and flexibility.

“Our students have been at the forefront of embracing all of this, which is terrific,” she continued. “Communication is so powerful, and it has the strength to create stronger communities and create the optimism that we need right now.”

‘I want to make sure I have the skills I will need’

Students had the opportunity to ask Dilenschneider questions, sharing their own experiences during the pandemic, and seek his advice. He shared what he has learned, offering wisdom and encouragement.

“Terrific students make the Pompea College of Business what it is,” he said. “The business school is one of better business schools in the world.”

Chamberlain, the hospitality and tourism management major, says he is grateful to have had the opportunity to attend Dilenschneider’s talk.

“This was very important to me because I want to run a hotel in the future,” he said. “Since the pandemic might be around for a long time, I want to make sure that I have the skills I will need and that I can provide my customers a good time as well as keep them safe.”