This is the second in a series of articles about this year’s “Milestones in Mentoring” Honorees.
John Deveney, founder of New Orleans-based Deveney Communication, says, “being mentored changed my life and I’ve always sought to pay it forward.”
After receiving a Mayoral Fellowship in the Public Information Department for the City of New Orleans, John recalls a defining mentoring moment. His task was to follow up with the media after sending out a press release. One news outlet was unreachable until his mentor, Jinx Broussard, press secretary to Mayor Sidney J. Barthelemy, was on her way to meet with the mayor. “Instead of going straight to her meeting, she stopped and asked what I was working on. After explaining the situation, she gave me a better contact number and waited until I was connected to the news outlet before joining her meeting.” Her profound concern and interest began the mentoring foundation for John.
Jinx, now an associate professor at Louisiana State University, talks about the value that John gives to the younger generation. “He provides the avenue and tools to become the best in a way that goes beyond the PR profession,” she says, “John is always available for questions and eager to listen and provide guidance.” She describes John as a “stellar human being and communicator.”
A key component in being a great mentor is to “listen more than you talk.” The biggest mentoring challenge John faces is “recognizing your advice and counsel may not always align with the mentee’s ultimate decision.” John defines his role as a mentor as one where you must “truly listen and understand the individual’s interest and passions before sharing your experience and encouragement,” adding, “You must empower others to pursue their dreams and make great decisions that result in long-term benefits.”
Christine Albert, marketing communication AVP with Touro Infirmary and former intern at Deveney Communication, describes John as a “strategic counselor; always quick to add strategy, depth and tactics to the situation” and as a “cultivator of the next generation of PR practitioners.” She adds, “Mentoring is John’s core value in his practice and career.”
Mentoring is about the partnership of collaboration between mentor and mentee to grow and solve problems. When asked what mentoring advice he would like to share, John says, “We do not embrace mistakes enough. I’ve noticed people have self-doubt and lack confidence when conveying bad news. That is when I try and put it into perspective; this is PR, not the ER.” Sometimes mistakes need to occur for growth and development. John adds, “As a mentee, don’t come to a meeting empty-handed, instead come with options and let your mentor be a sounding board, not just an oracle.”
John has worked on incredible projects, from his role as a first responder during hurricanes Katrina and Rita to his strategic plan and team that managed Louisiana State Tourism’s response to the BP Oil Spill. Of all the awards and accomplishments, he is most proud of the people he works and has worked with and being able to see those individuals develop, excel and flourish into successful friends and colleagues. Christine says, “Crisis or not, you always want John around.”
There is no one more deserving of the “Milestones in Mentoring” Agency Award. John has a profound influence on every one he meets and continues to pay it forward by being an inspiring and charismatic mentor.
Jessika White is the communications specialist at the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations. Connect with Jessika on Twitter @JessikaWhite and follow the Plank Center @PlankCenterPR.