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How to be a trusted adviser with Del Galloway | On Top of PR podcast

By On Top of PR

On Top of PR podcast: Being a trusted adviser with guest Del Galloway and show host Jason Mudd episode graphicLearn how you can be a trusted adviser to your team and clients with our guest Del Galloway, vice president of communications at Wells Fargo. Galloway’s 35-year career includes practice in agency, corporate, and nonprofit sectors. He’s also served as a public relations educator.



Our episode guest is Del Galloway, vice president of communications at Wells Fargo. Galloway’s 35-year career includes practice in agency, corporate, and nonprofit sectors. He’s also served as a public relations educator.



Being a trusted adviser doesn’t take years of experience. You have to earn respect and be authentic.



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Five things you’ll learn from this episode:

  1. How should your company respond during a crisis?

  2. How did Wells Fargo handle 2020’s crises?

  3. How can you be a trusted advisor to your team and clients?

  4. Why is it important to be authentic?

  5. An update on the 2020 Public Relations Society of America virtual international


  • “The crucible of crisis is often when ingenuity and innovation happen.” -@delgallowaywf

  • “An organization with values such as diversity, equity, inclusion, and representation must speak out.” -@delgallowaywf

  • “Understand the way your leaders think.” -@delgallowaywf

  • “Be you. Authenticity will never steer you wrong. It may on occasion rub some people the wrong way, and it may slow you down temporarily, but ultimately it will advance you.” -@delgallowaywf

  • “Be smart and be brief.” - @JasonMudd9

If you enjoyed the episode, would you please leave us a review?


About Del Galloway:

Galloway has a gift for “connecting the dots” between organizations and stakeholders, brands and consumers, key influentials and communities. 


It is his understanding of relationships and his ability to convey the right messages at the right time — when to push and when to pause — that have made Galloway a trusted adviser to clients worldwide.


His 35-year career includes practice in the agency, corporate, and nonprofit sectors, and he served as a public relations educator.


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- This is Jason Mudd with Axia Public Relations. I'm your host from "On Top of PR." And in this episode, we're talking to Del Galloway. Del is the former president and head of the Public Relations Society of America. He's currently with Wells Fargo, and he's gonna talk to us about all the crazy issues that are going on in 2020. And how to be a trusted advisor throughout all of these corners and twists and complications. He's also gonna share a little bit about the upcoming Public Relations Society of America, International Conference. And he's gonna share about the PRSA College of Fellows. And I just think this is a great episode. You're gonna love it. I'm glad you're tuning in. If you like what you hear today, be sure to subscribe and get notified when we have new episodes drop. Thanks for watching, here we go.


- [Announcer] Welcome to "On Top of PR" with Jason Mudd. Presented by ReviewMaxer.


- Hello everybody and welcome to another episode of "On Top of PR." I'm your host, Jason Mudd. And today I'm joined by my friend and colleague Del Galloway. Del, welcome to the show.


 - Jason, thank you so much. It's a pleasure.


 - I'm glad you're here. So Del, I was thinking about you as we were preparing for this recording. You and I met when I first graduated from college and was entering the PR profession. You were one of the first people I met. And of course, one of the nicest and most giving people. So when we started putting the show together, "On Top of PR", I thought of you. And of course, you continue to give back and volunteer, including your role at the University of Florida. And as you just shared with me, you are the chair for the International Conference, for the Public Relations Society of America, where you were previously it's top leader for the association. So Del, other than that, tell us a little bit more about yourself and your background so that our audience gets familiar with you before we jump in.


 - Well, Jason thank you. And that was very kind, that introduction. And I remember our meeting in Jacksonville, Florida well, a while back. So yeah, I am a graduate of the University of Florida, Go Gators.


 - Yeah, Go Gators.


 - But my career has spanned the agency world, corporate, nonprofit education and back to corporate, after graduating from UF. I was with Young and Ruby Kim Zemp, a big down in Tampa Bay.


 - YNR now, right?


 - I'm sorry.


 - They call it YNR now, right?


 - That's right. The big account back in those days was Publix. And then continued my career with another agency. And then, took a dive into the corporate world. I was with a division, a business unit of AT&T called AT&T American Transtech, which you'll remember was headquartered in Jacksonville. At the time that was the largest private employer in the city with more than 5,000 employees. And then I went back to the agency world and we sold that agency, Husk, Jennings, Galloway and Partners in downtown Jacksonville in 2005. And at the age of 45 ish, I suddenly did not know what was next. So after taking about six months off and enjoying waking up without an alarm, I always felt like that would be one of life's biggest luxuries. And I've discovered it was great, but you can fill a lot of nothing with a lot of nothing. And so I accepted an offer from a HeadHunter to interview for a position in Washington, DC, a city I've always loved. And I accepted the job and was with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.


- Okay.


- Left that, went to United Way Worldwide, the world's largest privately funded nonprofit. And from there, I went to Wells Fargo where I am currently. And I lead communications for the Atlantic region of Wells Fargo. And for us, that means Maryland, DC, Virginia, North Carolina. And within the last year, I'm now operating by coastal. I have folks in California, in LA that I have pleasure of working with as well.


- Great, wow. Well personally, I'm 44 years old and I couldn't imagine already having or close to selling my agency and starting the next chapter of my life. And obviously you were successful in doing that. So congratulations to you there. Let's just pick up real quick on Wells Fargo. The world doesn't need to know from us about COVID-19 and how it has changed and how it's impacted the economy and the wellness of our communities. How has that impacted you and your communications leadership and candidly, your 2020 corporate communications plan?


- Yeah, well, and so across the organization, Wells Fargo has continues to work from home, safety first, about every month out, we'll receive a message of, "Okay, we're gonna push another month out." So right now it's into October.


- Okay.


- Interestingly, we've looked at the landscape and the number of companies who are saying, "We may never go back to work", in terms of an actual office building. People have discovered the benefits of virtual. But it also has its challenges, right?


- Mm-hm.


- Because, I think particularly from a leadership communication perspective, and creating that connectivity, that sticky factor so that people continue to feel tethered to the business, right?


- Right.


- So, we've counseled our clients to host as many or as appropriate virtual town hall type thing so that we can at least have this type of interaction.


- Mm-hm.


- And interestingly, we've also encouraged our clients that this is a time to be bold. I think we all know that, history has shown us in the crucible of crisis, is often when ingenuity and innovation happens, right?


- Absolutely.


- Cause necessity is the mother of invention. And then, in the midst of the pandemic, right? This perfect storm of racial inequality and social injustice, the murder of George Floyd and having to speak out and be a voice on that. And again, partnering, counseling, advising clients, be bold, share your point of view. Our people want to hear from us on these issues.


- Yeah, yeah. Excellent. And so, when you say clients, just to clarify for our audience, you're talking about leadership and departmental leaders within the enterprise?


- That's right. Within Wells Fargo, we do call them clients.


- Okay. And so yes, those are the people with whom we partner and offer counsel.


- Perfect. So, you could pick any one of those issues that you outlined that have happened in 2020, the most bizarre year obviously in our lifetime. Pick one of those and just kinda talk to us about anecdotally, I guess how you first heard about it or how it began to impact the business, and what your team's response has been and what were some of the lessons learned. I know that's a loaded question, so take your time.


- Okay. Well, I'll unpack it as we go. let's start with the death of George Floyd. And I personally deliberately referred to it as a murder. And so one of the things that we realized was that it was a moment, right? Because no longer could we turn away, it was right there in our faces, right? I referred to it as a high tech lynching. And so I think individuals and organizations, the calculus has changed. Some folks say, "Well, a corporation, "that's not their business."


- Mm-hm.


- But when you've got an organization with a set of vision and values, and we talk about our values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and representation, we must speak out. And I've gotten increasingly clear about that, and the role of any organization. And I think that employees, what we call team members at Wells Fargo.


- Mm-hm.


- They expect their organization to have a voice and a point of view on these things.


- Okay.


- And so, for example, I've got folks in LA that I work with, and it's a lot of fun. I've got team in the Atlantic region. And we were working on messaging in response to the murder of George Floyd. And the team, some with not the seniority that I enjoyed, but younger folk, right? There was kind of an uncertainty, like how far can I push this message? And I said well, I'll tell you what? I'm gonna write the message for my leaders, and I'll share it with you. And when I did, you could hear this collective exhale because they said, "Oh, wow, you made me bold."


- Right.


- And I said, absolutely be bold. Because again, it's in these moments where we can advance the conversation and advance the common good. So that's an example. And then, I'm happy to talk about pandemic if you'd like.


- Sure, please.


- Well so, we all entered the new year and we're cruising along. And then suddenly my estimation, it was abruptly early to mid March, when we realized rut row. Right?


- Yeah.


- And so, it was probably into late March early April, that the fullness of the impact.


- Okay.


- Hit us, right?


- Yeah.



- Crises are an interesting thing because sometimes if you do the post-crisis analysis, it's like, okay, so at what point did it tip?


- Right.


- And for us, it tipped when well, in Washington, DC, where I happen to have an office just a block and a half from the White House, someone was COVID-19 positive, had gotten it through church, at a church service, and had come into the office. So we were immediately told, "Do not come in."


- Right


- Et cetera. And then that migrated to a enterprise wide, corporate wide, everyone now must work from home, other than those who are frontline, like in branches and things like that. And as I mentioned, the challenges of a pandemic from a communication perspective and things that we've done to address those challenges.


- Yeah. When you said earlier about being bold, it makes me think that I'm kinda well known for saying, be smart and be brief, and maybe I'll add a little third punch in there of be bold. 


- Be bold?


- Yeah, that's kinda one of my mantras for people is, hey, be smart, be brief, and, maybe I'll figure out a way to add be bold in that. So I really like that. That's a good tip.


- [Announcer] You are Listening to "On Top of PR" with your host, Jason Mudd. Jason is a trusted advisor to some of America's most admired and fastest growing brands. He is the managing partner at Axia Public Relations, a PR agency that guides news, social and web strategies for national companies. And now, back to the show.


- I love where we're going with this cause part of our agenda, part of the topic today is being a trusted advisor, right? To your clients and to leadership, and you're giving some examples now of being a trusted advisor, both to your team, or maybe even your subordinates, but also to the leadership of the organization. So, kinda walk us through just a few things that are top of mind for you when it comes to, Del, being a trusted advisor to the people who are looking to you for communication strategies and communications leadership.


- Well, and Jason, I'm so glad we're talking about this. I actually pinned an op-ed, an article at the request of PRSA earlier this year that has since been published and been picked up and repurposed. And, it's titled "Accidental Karma, "the Journey of One Trusted Advisor." And so, I'm 61 years old. So, my career is now spanned. I'm guessing it's going into 37th to 38th year. It probably wasn't until I was about 10 years into my career when I really caught the bug on the trusted advisor thing. And that was that AT&T American Transtech. But prior to that, and I think others are probably have had this experience or guilty of this. I found myself when I heard people talking about strategic counselor, I felt that that was something so aspirational.


- Yeah.


- was a birthright that it was beyond me.


- Yeah, okay.


- And often I think in the literature, sometimes it's positioned that way. Like you've got it in your DNA. And perhaps for others, they haven't had that experience, but that was my experience.


- Sure, okay.


- And what I discovered, is it's really through the rough and tumble of time and experience, that you find your place as a trusted advisor. And so that's fundamentally what this article talks about. And what I think, or what are the characteristics, it's, they're the basic things that are the cost of entry, right? That's: Be smart, be strategic, et cetera. But what I've discovered where you can really help those that are aspiring to get there, are more, not the obvious things. And here's an example. I was having this conversation today. And that is one of the things that I do when I counsel my team and those with whom I work or who are younger, and that is outside, understand the way your leaders think. And, more often than not, they're in the position they're in because they are smart and they want to be quick. So when they ask for information, give them the answer and then back into explaining it, et cetera. We've all fallen victim through the years of someone ask a question and we give this preamble, et cetera. And I can see in clients' faces, they're immediately turned off. It's like, boom, give them what they need, and then give them background, right?


- Yeah. Give them the message and then support it with facts, yeah.


- That's right. And I think it's really too about relationship building and understanding the way your clients are wired. Several have suggested, "Oh, you mean be a chameleon?" Cause not all clients are cut out of the same cloth.


- Right.


- But understanding. I've got clients with whom I text constantly, others you don't even wanna go there. And so things along those lines, and also understanding the business. So that you can be of counsel, not only about communication, but really about operationally, the way the business can be run, which will then help you and how you communicate it.


- You're making me think of a great tip I got years ago from somebody who I think is really talented. And they said they came into a job, very similar to yours, I would say. And, they were the new leader and everybody else was kind of incumbent employees. And some people had been there for a decade. And when he was kinda interviewing or meeting with them for the first time, one question he asked everybody was, "Tell me how our company makes money?" And then the next question was, "Tell me how our division that you work for," you know, cause they had clients too, in their internal group, "How does that division make money?" And he said anybody who couldn't answer that question in detail, or with some consideration, immediately moved to the pile of, I don't know if they're gonna be around much longer, right?


- Yeah, they probably didn't make the short list for .


- Yeah. And what he said is there are people that had been there 15 years, and didn't understand the first thing of how the company makes money, where the expenses go. All they knew is, I write this newsletter and it's the most important thing in my life. And so that was eye opening to me. And at my agency, I took that back and I said, the first thing we gotta find out is how do our clients make money? And then how do we align PR with that same objective and we're in the business of creating new social and web strategies and services. But if those don't align with what the company is trying to do and where the company's going, and how the company makes money, you gotta be really careful, you're not completely focused on vanity versus what's important to the organization.


- That's right. And I think we earn our place at the table, right?


- Mm-hm, yes.


- we table, by not only understanding the innards and ins and outs of communications and strategy, but of the business we're in. Again, so that you can be of counsel, not only to how this needs to be communicated, the message, the narrative, et cetera, and how it needs to be executed against which channels, but understanding operationally, which is just going to make your communication more relevant and rich.


- Absolutely. Del, two things, one you've reminded me of, I don't know if it's a parable or what, but it says wisdom comes from experience. And when you're talking about yourself and your clients and how they got in those roles, it's because of that experience. And so eventually you start to develop gut instincts.


- That's right.


- You've been there before, you know where this is going. You can see around that corner cause you've been at that intersection right?


- I mean, isn't that invaluable?


- Yeah.


- I love the fact that I am a seasoned professional now, right? And that I have earned my stripes and as acknowledged by others that I have the gravitas to command the room and the attention of those who I'm counseling. Right?


- Yeah.


- Go back to the example of the racial inequality in George Floyd murder. And the team was a bit hesitant, and I went people, I'm real clear about that. And by the way, we're going to be bold. And if someone questions it, it's like, okay, what part of that message of boldness do you disagree with? Cause that was a different conversation, but on them.


- Yeah. Well, and I think if you're not bold, as you said earlier, I think you blend in, your camouflage. I tell people all the time, look, be candid because candid clears the clutter and candid makes it very clear what you're trying to say and what you're trying to do. And if you're beating around the bush, I may not hear you. And so, anytime I've had issues boil up within our organization, whether it's with internal or external audiences, is because somebody somewhere wasn't being candid enough, that they were truly being heard. You were whispering something about this, but it wasn't clear to me that you were wishing you could be shouting, right? Or--


- And so in those kinds of situations, in my experience, it does not instill confidence, right?


- Yeah.


- An expression I use with both my clients, my colleagues and those that are coming up in the profession is, "Be you boo." Authenticity will never ever steer you wrong. It may on occasion, rub some people the wrong way. It mays slow you down temporarily, but ultimately, it will advance you, "Be you boo." And that is actually that folds into being a trusted advisor, because if you're comfortable in your own skin.


- Right.


- That allows others to be comfortable in their own skin.


- And around you as well so they can be more transparent. Yeah, I love that.


- Right.


- So the second thing I had for you is, and then we're gonna, I think transition to the next topic. But, I know I have this question so I assume our audience will too. Give us an example, when you say clients in your organization, are we talking about a regional vice presidents, product line leaders, kinda help me understand that?


- Well, it's up and down the food chain. So operationally, we have what we call the community bank. Those are the branches that you see out in the community.


- Retail branches?


- I'm sorry?


- The retail branches.


- That's right. And so, I have a lead region president, our binocular LRP, who oversees the Atlantic region. And he has RBPs, region bank presidents that are like in Charlotte or in Richmond or in DC or in Maryland, et cetera, et cetera. So, the LRP, the lead region president over the entire region as my primary client. But I also, with my team, show the love to these RBPs as well.


- Okay.


- And then, we organizationally within our corporate communication line of business, people that I'm fortunate to work with, collaborate with and offer counsel to as well.


- Excellent. Del, we could have you on for several episodes I know, and talk about a lot of things. One of the things that I know you wanted to talk about, and I'm pleased to do that today, would be just to share with our audience about the upcoming PRSA, Public Relations Society of America, ICON, International Conference, that was originally scheduled to be in Nashville and as we were talking about earlier, one of our colleagues was gonna go there, present our $2,000 annual scholarship to a PR student there. And, unfortunately because of COVID, it's gone viral, but fortunately, that allows more people to attend. It allows more companies to send more people because of the virtual nature of it. And now, people from anywhere, anytime can come using any device, you said. So, I hope I didn't steal your thunder, but tell us more.


- You've set that up beautifully. And let's go back to the pandemic, because March leads into April, and I have the great pleasure this year of chairing PRSA's International Conference, and have been connected with PRSA staff and other leaders, a committee since the first of the year. But it was probably not until mid April that I suddenly went rut row, or to have a face to face conference in Nashville? That was so far out.


- Right.


- And yet you saw things dropping like flies along the way. And we had to make a very critical strategic decision at a certain point, go or no go? And of course member safety was paramount. And so yes, PRSA, the world's largest organization for public relations and communications professional, will host its first ever ICON, International Conference, that was to be in Nashville, Tennessee, and now will be virtual. So, be there no matter where you are in the world. And it will be coming to a device near you.


- Yeah.


- And it will now be spread. PRSA conferences are usually two days, two and a half days, into a Tuesday. This time the conference is going to start on Monday, October 26th, and go to Thursday, October 29th.


- Okay.


- And I've got some interesting research and learnings that I've discovered when you go virtual and why we stretch from two days to four, if you want to hear about that. And I'll go there in a moment. But what the delay and launching our conference allowed us to do, was just blow up everything and reconsider what we need this conference to be in this moment.


- Right, yeah sure.


- In a moment of global pandemic, in a moment of continued disinformation, in a moment of racial inequality and social injustice. And so our conference theme is timely. It is Strategic Communications, Navigating a World Disrupted.


- Nice, okay.


- And we are thrilled, our lineup of speakers is fantastic. We will open on Monday the 26th with Jon Meacham.


- Okay.


- Meacham is I'm sure all your viewers know is a presidential biographer, a historian, and a very respected voice of reason in this space of governance, politics, and civility. And then on Tuesday, the 27th, we are all about diversity, equity and inclusion representation. And we have a fabulous fierce speaker. Her name is Carolynn Johnson. She is the CEO of DiversityInc Media.


- Okay.


- And so she will join us on Tuesday. Wednesday, is all about disinformation and our First Amendment. And behind the First Amendment, it's five freedoms. And four of those, four of those five freedoms of the First Amendment, are particularly applicable to public relationships.


- Sure.


- That is assembly, petition, speech and press. And we've got a speaker who will join us, Nina Jankowicz. She is a Disinformation Fellow at the Wilson Center. And she's going to just talk about the world of which we now live, the disinformation and its effects on our democracy and our elections, et cetera. And then later in the day, we're gonna have a marvelous human being and very smart person, Lata Nott, who is the executive director of the First Amendment Center at the Freedom Forum.


- I know the Freedom Forum well.


- And then Thursday, we will wrap and focused on the pandemic. And we will hear from Laurie Garrett, who is a internationally recognized scientist journalists, Pulitzer Prize winning, et cetera. So it's a very good lineup. And, there will be an amidst of all that, people go to conferences, right? For networking. They wanna they haven't seen all year, they wanna sit at the bar, they want social activities. And we're going to have that too. The platform that we will be using is through a company called six, numeral six Connex, C-O-N-N-E-X. And, I think a barrier that we have anticipated is that some folks may say, "Oh, I'm on Zoom meetings "all day, I can't do another Zoom."


- Right?


- This ain't Zoom. This is a total different G with wow experience.


- Okay.


- When to be filled with good professional content and social networking opportunities as well. There are few professions, only a handful that are founded and grounded in our constitution and its rights. And in particularly, our First Amendment, right? In terms of speech, assembly, petition and press. And, so I think that those topics and the issues that come out of that are particularly relevant to we as public relations professionals.


- And perhaps, and please, pardon this expression cause I don't like it, but perhaps now more than ever.


- That's right. And by the way, you will be receiving as a PRSA member and hopefully your viewers as well, you are going to be receiving twice a week between now and late October, emails promoting the conference. And some of the messaging you're gonna hear is truly now more than ever.


- Right.


- And it reminds me of in 2001, 911 happened and PRSA was to convene six weeks later in Atlanta. And much like then, if there's ever been a time, we need to come together collectively to collaborate and understand this world disrupted it's now.


- Yeah, yeah, yeah. So we have run out of time, but I want you to share just a tiny bit about the College of Fellows with PRSA. That's something that was on my to do list for 2020. And even though they extended the deadline with the pandemic, I had to take care of my clients first before I took care of myself. And so talk about College of Fellows, what it is, your process of getting in and what had been the benefit of being at College of Fellow since.


- Certainly. Well, so the College of Fellows is an organization within PRSA. And the college is considered the preeminent, if you will, exclusive group requirements for consideration or at least 20 years in the industry. And the college is very deliberate about looking at your background. And if you left the field for a year and a half to go, then that doesn't count. And then you have to complete a rigorous application. And based on my own experience, I've encouraged others. If you're going to apply for the Fellows and you know you meet the requirements, give yourself four or five months to complete the application.


- Right.


- And the application is both a sobering, but exciting thing in my experience. Because it captures the body of your work in the industry. And in fact, when I completed my College of Fellows application, I gave it to my mother who said, "What is it you do?" I handed it to her and I said, mother, read this. This is what I do.


- Yeah.


- And I think one of the many benefits of the college is being with a seasoned colleagues, who have the experience and insight to give you counsel, right?


- Yeah.


- The people to whom you can turn and pick up the phone and say, Oh, I've got this situation, how can you help?


- Yeah, absolutely. Well, thank you for sharing that. Thanks for being part of the show. This has been a great episode. And I look forward to having you back, as we have an opportunity to talk more about the variety of topics and maybe we'll connect on, I know this is part of your wheelhouse of expertise, but perhaps in the future, we'll connect on an episode just about diversity and inclusion.


- Oh, that is something I'd welcome. And I didn't wanna mention, and you inspired this comment earlier, you talked about, you have a saying that something about the briefing you might add, be bold.


- Yeah.


- It inspired me to remember a famous quote by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, about public speaking. And it was "Be brief, be relevant, be seated."


- There we go, nice. I like that. Well, thank you, Del. Thanks for a great show.


- Jason, thank you.


- [Announcer] This has been "On Top of PR" with Jason Mudd presented by ReviewMaxer.

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