Team Spotlight with Amy McHugh
What were your career aspirations as a child?
I definitely had the journalism bug at a young age – I started a neighborhood newspaper when I was ten, assigning different beats to my neighborhood buddies and reporting on everything from lost dogs to schoolyard gossip. Prior to that, I apparently had broadcast aspirations, as I’d spend hours pretending to be Barbara Walters, interviewing anyone and everyone who’d agree to talk to me (using my hairbrush as a microphone). I’ve always loved uncovering peoples’ stories.
How did you end up at Greenough?
By way of TV news. After graduating from Boston University with a degree in journalism, I spent the next 11 years as an anchor and reporter in TV markets across New England, including Providence, Rhode Island and Bangor, Maine. It was a great experience, but I started finding myself in need of a greater challenge. I loved the storytelling aspect of the job, but found that the day to day assignments were becoming repetitive.
I decided I needed to make a move and PR seemed like the most logical next step, since I could still build compelling stories and dig to uncover interesting gems to share with an audience. Luckily, a childhood friend introduced me to Greenough and the rest is history!
Was there a concern that you didn’t have traditional agency experience?
Absolutely – although I think I was more concerned about that than Phil Greenough was! I anticipated a steep learning curve, since I didn’t know the first thing about PR (what’s an ed cal?!). Fortunately, the transition was incredibly smooth – I can honestly say I’ve never once regretted leaving the news business. In fact, I wish I’d made the jump to PR earlier! The experience has solidified my belief that if you can tell a great story, you can tell it anywhere, across any medium.
How do you feel your reporter background has helped the transition to a PR agency?
As a journalist, you develop a thick skin and you learn how to talk to anyone, anywhere, about anything. Because of all those years of street reporting, I’m not shy or easily intimated (comes in handy when journalists don’t want to talk to PR pros!). I’d like to think I’ve learned how to make (almost) anyone feel at ease and comfortable sharing their story with me. And let’s not forget the deadline pressure of working in a newsroom – it helps immensely to be able to craft a strong story or script quickly!
What makes a story interesting to you?
The human angle. You can have the greatest product or service in the world, but I’m not interested until I see how it’s impacted someone’s life, how it’s changed them or helped them. To me, that’s how you grab a reader or viewer – give them the human story. Show them the emotion.
What stories were most newsworthy for you?
While working in news, I always gravitated toward medical reporting. I loved being allowed in the operating room to shoot a cutting-edge surgery, or follow a patient on a unique treatment journey. As the daughter of a nurse, I’ve always been fascinated with medicine and healthcare. As a teen, I’d beg my mom to bring me to work with her on the night shift at a Boston hospital – I was enthralled with the behind-the-scenes of patient care on a med/surg floor and it instilled in me a deep respect for healthcare professionals.
How does your current role help fuel your passion for healthcare?
Several of our clients are in the healthcare space, and I'm able to work with physicians daily, identifying trends and mining story ideas. I also enjoy having the opportunity to take complicated, clinical topics and distill them for a mainstream audience.
I also serve on the board of directors for Beat Nb, a nonprofit organization dedicating to saving kids with neuroblastoma – a deadly childhood cancer. Through my work with Beat Nb, I’ve been able to see firsthand how targeted therapies are changing the treatment paradigms for childhood cancers, increasing survival rates without using harsh treatments that ravage kids’ bodies. Because of this, I’m dedicated to helping raise awareness about neuroblastoma and the need to fund research and clinical trials that have a real impact today.
When you are not digging for the best story, what are your 5 favorite things (in no particular order)?
My twin daughters, seeing Broadway shows, traveling, reading and cooking.