Featured Speaker Q & A: Jeff Selby

Jeff Selby has a diverse background in communications, public relations, and marketing. He handles all communications for the City of Portland’s Office of Equity and Human Rights, owns AIW Creative, and teaches at Clackamas Community College’s Small Business Development Center.

Before joining the City of Portland, Jeff served on the City of Lake Oswego’s project team that handled communications for the installation of a $95M experimental floating sewer in a private lake.

In previous lives, Jeff was Marketing and Customer Relations Director for Kuni BMW-Cadillac-Saab, a writer and graphic designer with Walt Disney Imagineering, and an award-winning broadcast combat correspondent with the U.S. Army.

Jeff is IAP2-certified and uses his unique combination of storytelling talents to assist small business owners, support social justice organizations, and promote the City of Portland’s racial equity work. He serves on the Board of Directors of MRG Foundation and is a consultant to the Japanese American social justice community.

Jeff kindly answered some questions to share more about his unique background and strong perspective with you before the conference.

What was your first job in PR?
My first PR gig was in the U.S. Army, almost 30 years ago. I was a public affairs specialist-broadcast journalist.

Which skill makes you great at your job in PR? What skills do you use daily in PR?
Taking complex ideas or jargon and then crafting an engaging story is an essential PR skill in my opinion. In my past work, it was defining and sharing the BMW driving experience and translating public works infrastructure terms; now it’s interpreting racial equity concepts and crafting stories for diverse audiences.

What can the audience expect from your presentation?
Racial Equity is a critical thinking exercise. Participants can expect to learn why racial equity is important to growing their audience and find out how our implicit bias can affect our PR strategy.  

Why do you feel strategy so important in PR?
Knowing your audience is so vital to effective PR work. If you don’t use a racial equity lens, you could be unintentionally marginalizing, ignoring, or even insulting many of your potential clients and customers.

What are your biggest influences in PR? What are the biggest challenges that are surfacing in PR?
I believe one of the biggest challenges in PR is reaching diverse audiences. I believe part of this problem lies in the fact that the PR industry, at least locally, seems to be dominated by White practitioners. We should figure out a way to attract a more diverse group of folks to our profession, so we more closely resemble our communities.

Do you see changes on how PR professionals deliver our message coming down the pike?
I think we will see visual storytelling emerge even more as a preferred medium. Making sure we are inclusive in our storytelling is more important than ever.