From the Desk of our Strategic Comms Intern – First Week

My name is Danielle Mercure, I am a strategic communications major at Washington State
University (WSU) focusing on public relations and risk/crisis communication. I am excited to have
been hired as the new strategic communication intern for The Keller Group this summer before
going into my senior year. Because of my emphasis on crisis comms and strategic comms, this
looked like a great fit with the work that the Keller Group is doing. I’m looking forward to learning
through meaningful interactions with industry professionals and the experiences I will gain during
this internship!

One of my first assignments was to “interview” reporters and I had the opportunity to meet with
Patti Payne, columnist and writer/business consultant for the Puget Sound Business Journal. Full
Disclosure: Besides being a 30+ year media personality and well-known business owner herself,
Patti is the mother of Keller Group Founder and CEO Lee Keller. Nonetheless, I was really excited
to learn about Patti’s experience in the field and get advice from a professional, as I’m an intern
who is just starting out in real world public relations.

Patti has done everything from reporter/correspondent to news anchor to public affairs director.
She’s worked in the industry for around 35 years working for KIRO, KOMO, and KING. She is such
an inspiring person and I gained so much from just one conversation with her.

She told me a few stories that highlight some of the obstacles (some funny and some challenging)
that someone in this field might face. One story she told me was from when she was a reporter
working at a Childhaven fundraiser around Christmas time. (Childhaven is a Seattle-area non-
profit focusing on childhood trauma and preparing children for a lifetime of well-being.) A child
there looked her right in the eyes when asked what he wanted for Christmas and said “one good
day.” Patti said this is one of the scenarios where you find yourself being empathetic and
remembering you are human.

I asked her if she has ever made a mistake either on air or in print and she had some funny stories
to share. The one that really stood out to me was one summer when it was snowing on Cayuse
Pass and it had to be closed. She was anchoring the news for KOMO Radio and needed to tell the
“disc jockeys” to turn the music off so she could announce that the pass was closing. She
confidently said, on air, “KAY-ASS POOS is closing.” Pronounced just how it’s spelled there. As
someone who is just starting out and honestly, pretty intimidated with it all, it was really calming
to hear about someone as notable as Patti, making a mistake. The mistake being funny is a bonus!
One important thing that stuck out to me from our conversation was this quote from Patti: “From
Kings and queens to companies, we’re all alike, we’re all humans. We all put our pants on the same
way. We go to sleep at night. We’re all very much alike because of our humanity. That’s who we
are. So there’s nobody to be afraid of. There’s nobody to be intimidated by. In my view, we’re all

“To be interesting, you need to be interested,” continued Patti Patti will be an amazing mentor as I
take on this internship and I am so happy to have gotten the chance to chat with her early in my
time with the Keller Group. I look forward to expanding my knowledge and growing through this
internship and future experiences like this one.

Danielle Mercure