It’s been quite a last few days, hasn’t it?
This past Wednesday evening, I was traveling home from a speaking engagement at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln when I was scrolling through my news alerts and found out that Steve Jobs had passed away (note: said scrolling was being done on my iPhone).
Now, I was in no way an early Mac adopter, but ever since my conversion last year, I’ve come to love Apple products. They have literally changed my life. So even though that news wasn’t completely unexpected, the actuality of it made me sad.
It also made me think about how rare it is when the termination of someone’s life affects so very many people. And it made me think of how we don’t celebrate these very rare people often enough when they are among us.
So, today, I celebrate the birthday of someone who has had an incredible impact on my life and, probably, yours, if you work in the public relations and/or social media field… and particularly if you care about the measurement thereof.
She is the Queen of Measurement (or, as she’d rather be known, Sashet) – Ms. Katie Delahaye Paine.
The first meeting
I first came across Katie almost a decade ago. At the time, I was living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. I was a board member of the San Francisco Bay Area Publicity Club and, being a glutton for punishment (a characteristic I seem to carry with me to this day), also editor of the Club’s newsletter.
(Side note: I tried to find the Club’s current URL to link to, but kept getting redirected to a URL for used cars. WTF? If any former/current board members are reading this, will you let me know what’s going on?)
As editor of the newsletter, I was always on the lookout for good articles we could share with our members. And while doing some Internet research, I came across a “measurement weather report” that had been published in The Measurement Standard, an e-pub of Katie’s firm.
“Huh,” I thought. “This is kinda cool. I wonder if this lady would let me reprint it.”
So I sent a reprint request in to the email address listed, explaining who I was (a nobody) and what I was asking for (how many of these must they get a day?!).
You could have picked me up off the floor when, shortly thereafter, I received a reply from The Goddess Herself saying not just “yes,” but, “you’re a likely young lass who’s interested in measurement… would you like me to come down and talk to your organization about it?”
Now, by this time, I had Googled Katie to high heaven (don’t know if the term existed then, but you get my drift), and had figured out how high-powered she was. So when I got her reply … can you spell “gobsmacked”?
If you’re stuck, the answer is “J-A-W-O-N-T-H-E-F-L-O-O-R.”
So I wrote back and, trying not to soil my tighty wighties, said, “Omigoshwe’dlovetobutwecan’taffordsomeonelikeyou!!!!!”
Or words to that effect.
You see, like many other volunteer-run organizations, especially a small one, we had no budget for speakers.
“No matter,” Katie wrote back. “I have to come out there to meet with a client anyway. So if you can cover <X amount of expenses>, I’m yours.”
Or words to that effect.
The Goddess Will Speak!
So off I went to my next board meeting to tell my cohorts what had transpired, and secured their approval. I exited jubilant that, as I was leaving San Francisco (the plans to move to DC were already set in motion), I’d be able to give my chapter and area practitioners a truly unique professional development experience.
Unique it was. And many of us had our eyes opened as to what constituted “good” v. “bad” measurement.
I’m talking outcomes. I’m talking impact. I’m talking what actually results for our organizations from the fruit of our labors, as opposed to just “what” we do.
I remember coming away from that event – we’re talking November 2003 – with my head spinning, and thinking, “This is why we do what we do!”
I had started becoming interested in measurement a while back, but meeting and hearing from Katie solidified that. And ever since then, she has had an indelible impact on my career.
You see …
… The Impact …
- When I finally made the move to DC – barely a month after I met Katie – it was an introduction from her to a then-executive with Hill & Knowlton that opened several doors for me here. That same executive introduced me to the-then Media Relations Director for Ruder Finn‘s DC office, and three months after starting my job hunt here, I was hired.
- When I moved from Ruder Finn to a very large nonprofit, Katie was the person I called on to help me set a robust measurement program in place … and that ended up winning an award from the Institute of Public Relations.
- When I was wondering whether Twitter would be good for anything other than finding out what someone had had for lunch, it was a conversation with Katie that set me straight.
- When I thought about creating #measurePR, I called Katie to see if she thought it was a crazy idea. To her credit, she said, “I think it’s genius and WTF didn’t I think of it myself?!”
- On Saturday, I’m heading to Orlando to present at PRSA’s International Conference. I’ll be presenting four years in a row … the first of which was in conjunction with Katie.
I know. Crazy, isn’t it?!
Katie has been – and is – a great friend and mentor to me, more times than she probably knows. All while she has lived through resurrecting her family home after a devastating fire and foreclosure, as well as breast cancer.
And whenever I remind her of what a critical force she has been/is in my life, she says, “I just opened the door. You did the rest.” Talk about modesty.
Is she omnipotent? Infallible? Probably not. But she is one of the best human beings it has been my privilege to come to know, and to call “friend.”
So not just from me, but on behalf of all of us, and our entire industry – happy birthday, Miss Katie. May you measure, and, live long and prosper.
What a great post Shonali! I am so big on birthdays because I think it’s so important to value people you love or who have touched you while they are alive to know you appreciate them! Beyond that the rest of this post is touching. It’s crazy to think back and see where we all have come from. The other day a friend said to me in reference to a conversation about the one and only Shonali “I remember when you were reading her blog and absolutely excited (maybe a bit starstruck too? haha) when she was nice enough to give you advice about pursuing graduate school and now you are working with her everyday.” Wow isn’t it true! You and @ginidietrich truly are my Katies! I could never find the right words to express how grateful I am to you and Gini for the profound impact you’ve had on me as professional, mentors and friends! Thank you for reminding me to tell you that and not just think it!
@rachaelseda That is so sweet of you. Thank you! I love working with you. You “get” it. And you teach me so much too. So double thank yous. @ginidietrich
What a great story Shonali.Love hearing about your life! I can see Katie is quite a nice person. And she knows talent. Happy Birthday to Katie!
Please tell Ms. Paine how long I have been searching for someone as passionate about measuring Public Radio as I am. Oh never mind. I see I can just tweet her my questions myself. I hope she read that article on the dubious Arbitron ratings Morning Becomes Eclectic has, or as us in the industry call it ‘MBE’.
@HowieSPM Clearly I have to find a way to bring the two of you together. :)
I met Katie on the roof of the Kennedy Center – that’s another story. Not only did Katie introduce me to the measurement soapbox (I was standing in the crowd before that) but she also introduced me to such luminaries as Shonali(!), Angie Jeffries, Sally Falkow, Alice Brinks, Margot Savell — wait, there are men too! — Don Wright, Don Bartholomew, Sean Williams/COMMAmmo, Craig Carroll … and just associating with her brings me invitations to speak. Not for what I know, but for being accepted into Miss Katie’s aura. She lured me into IPR events by bribing me with a stay at the farm — nobody ever believed I was working when I sent pictures of the sun rising over the flower beds or described the lobsterfest. No, really, those are serious professional measurement practitioners waving those claws around! Thanks, Katie, for opening doors and minds, and your remarkable talent for making everyone feel as infulential (there – that word!) as you are. Happy birthday!
@dilennox Thank you for sharing your Katie story, Diane!
A very nice tribute Shonal, and a great backstory! Not in PR, but am a data geek, so Ms Katie had an instant fan as soon as you said measure. :)
@adamtoporek I call her “Miss Katie” as well! And there’s absolutely no reason for me to do that, except… it sounds right. :P Thank you for wishing one of my favorite people in the world and see you soon!
Wow, what a great story. She obviously had a huge impact on you in a very positive way. It’s funny how little things create big things in your life. I’m glad you were able to share this with her.
Happy birthday Ms K D Paine.
@bdorman264 Yes, she did – and what I think is so neat about people like her, is that they probably impact thousands and don’t even know it. So it’s important to tell them while they’re still around to hear it, right? And I don’t say that in a morbid way, just in a practical way. Thank you for wishing one of my dearest people, Bill!
@soulati Thanks for sharing, Missy!
@mdbarber Thanks so much for sharing my post on @kdpaine – she is truly remarkable.
OMG, I’m in tears. THank you SO much, and as you know, I think you were probably born a measurement maven :).
@kdpaine If I made you cry, Mission Accomplished. :p Seriously, though – there are some people who are angels for others. You are one of my angels. Thank you for everything.
That was a lovely tribute. A good mentor is priceless.
@TheJackB Truly! I hope you get the chance to meet Katie sometime, she’s really remarkable!
What a lovely birthday tribute–Happy Birthday Katie, and nice post Shonali! Have fun at the conference…
@jenzings Thanks, Jen – I just realized, I got to know you because of Katie as well. Is there anything she is not responsible for, LOL?!
Remarkable person indeed. Love, love kdpaine . Happy birthday, and may you have many more.
@kamichat I know you and I feel the same about her. Thank you for stopping by, my friend – I’m bummed I won’t see you in Orlando, though. :(
Beautiful tribute, Shonali! I would love to meet the great Katie Paine; she sounds delightful!
@EricaAllison Thank you, Erica! Katie IS absolutely delightful. She’s also the reason I got to meet some of my fave people such as kamichat , shelisrael … and she is so generous. Truly a remarkable person.