QUESTIONS & ANSWERS: Jim McClellan

He's learned to be a little more careful about where he performs

the happy dance, and he certainly knows how to give clients a buzz. Meet

Jim McClellan, vice president of Florida's Ron Sachs Communications.



Describe the company you work for. Ron Sachs Communications is a

full-service, 15-member firm. Our specialties are media relations,

crisis communications and issue development, but we also are one of the

Southeast's most prolific independent television production firms.



What do you do? As EVP, I supervise our daily client operations and do

all the stuff that bores our CEO.



How did you get into PR? I entered the PR arena through the door marked

"politics" - working in various positions for three successive Florida

governors.



What is your greatest achievement? My life's journey has taken me from

hunting and fishing the swamps of Calhoun County to working for the

Florida governors to helping run one of the most innovative firms in

America.



What was your best stunt? We conducted a "medical miracle" news

conference for our client, Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, to announce

that an experimental surgery, performed a few months earlier, had been

successful, and a six-year-old boy's arm was saved. To illustrate, we

had the doctor present the child with a baseball, cap and glove. The two

then played a game of "catch" - as I was nearly trampled by national

news media cameras trying to capture the photo!



What was your biggest screw-up? Paging my former boss, Lt. Governor

Buddy MacKay, in the middle of a big speech. He had worn a pager for

less than a week, so the vibration startled him. Reportedly, the

audience just thought he had paused for dramatic effect.



If you could work on one account, what would it be? Penn Fishing Reels.

In fact, several years ago, I cold-called the company to see if my

services would be valued. ("No, but we'll call you if we ever do." I'm

still waiting.)



What invention would make your job easier? The "Here-it-is-in-writing"

generator: Used when, after listening to your entire story pitch, a

reporter says, "Do you have something in writing?"



What do you wish you hadn't said to the media? "We might as well swing a

dead chicken over our heads at midnight," quoted in The Gainesville Sun

after a reporter's repeated questions about a client's frustrations in

trying to placate a state government agency. Or: "We did the happy dance

on our desks," quoted in the Tampa Tribune. That was my reaction to

learning that a popular politician would not challenge my boss in a

governor's race.



What's your party trick? Balancing stale jokes atop my wife's thinly

worn patience.



If you were an animal, what would you be? A ring-tailed bandicoot, just

because it's fun to say.



What is the secret of your success? Working for the world's greatest

boss, and never being afraid to suck up shamelessly.



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