By Nicole Keiner
Date Published: 12/1/2016
"I remember vividly sitting in front of my black and white television at the age of 9 watching Walter Cronkite (one of my role models) reporting the news." That was the moment Bob Saline knew he wanted to embark on a career in the communications field. And although he originally wanted to follow in Cronkite's footsteps, public relations was (and is) his true calling.
Bob Saline, president & CEO (retired) of PRworks Inc., hails from Brockway, Pennsylvania—a borough in Jefferson County. He is the only child of a mother and father who instilled in him a love of people. "My parents would give the shirts off their backs for family and friends. Because my dad worked in the hot end of a glass blowing operation and my mom was a stay-at-home mom, they made sure I got through college without any debt, and did the same for some of our relatives. They were well respected in our community—just really good people."
The life lessons his parents taught him have been carried throughout his life, both personally and professionally. Bob has several passions, but mentoring is at the top of his list. "I have coached those in the PR field, individuals in my church—young families, people I have worked with. I truly enjoy it." Bob is a member and also volunteers at the Rotary Club of Harrisburg and Slate Hill Mennonite Church. "I have been through all of the leadership offices in Rotary and this April, I will join a team going to Haiti to put in a water filter at a rural school." In 2015, he and his wife managed the international media for the Mennonite World Conference that attracted more than 6,000 Anabaptists from around the globe and this year "I guided the publicity for our church's bicentennial celebration of the original church."
After high school, he attended Point Park Junior College, in downtown Pittsburgh. "We were the pioneer class when the junior college became a 4-year degree granting college. In 2003, Point Park became Point Park University. In my professional capacity I assisted them with research relative to the community's interest in masters studies and thus began their journey to university designation." Bob is Point Park University proud.
Bob entered college with intentions of a career in broadcast journalism, but professors and adjunct professors in the field of public relations at the college helped develop his strong love of strategic communications and public relations.
Bob has another role model. His wife, Deborah. "I was a small town boy in the big city and noticed a beautiful and very smart gal in the front row in one of my college classes. Yes—it did take me 3 years to convince her to date me, but I did."
His first proposal was in front of the giraffe exhibit at the Pittsburgh Zoo. "I had a Cracker Jack box," and I said, "if there was a ring in it, that I'd propose." And guess what? There was a ring in it and I proposed." Bob later coordinated an "official" proposal with a batch of daisies in hand along the Monongahela River in Point State Park. "During the last year of college, Deb and I married."
At age 20, while in college, he was drafted. "I was drafted into the U.S. Army, did my boot camp stint and was lucky enough to receive a few months of training in electronic communications. Then, I spent a year in Thailand working on an Air Force base, as a shift supervisor, which was the communication hub for all of South East Asia." Bob believes the military gave him a different set of skill sets he hadn't developed at that point. "I was well trained and through my military training, I learned how to lead. The training followed me throughout my professional career."
Bob and Deborah have had 2 children and suffered the loss of daughter Jennifer to cancer just before her 15th birthday. They also have a son Erik, working with Nike in Portland, Oregon. Erik, also a Point Park graduate, coaches product managers on how to use the latest software to manage their product lines. "Deb and I renewed our vows on our 30th anniversary." While on a plane to Anchorage (as they were going on an Alaskan cruise to celebrate their 3 decades together) Bob re-proposed. "We were remarried on the ship. The Captain married us in the most perfect ceremony."
In Bob's spare time, he enjoys traveling (more of it—is an item on his bucket list), hiking, kayaking, cross country skiing and photography. "Deb and I would really like to explore more of Europe and the Mediterranean and our National Parks here in the States."
Before moving into the public relations consulting field, Bob had worked for the Homestead New Daily Messenger newspaper as promotions and circulation assistant in Pittsburgh. After his military service and moving back to Pennsylvania, his first job was with The United Telephone of Pennsylvania and New Jersey (now Sprint). Later in his career at the phone company, he developed the marketing communications function and department. "I was with United through 5 or 6 mergers. I then decided I was ready to go out on my own."
Bob joined a small 3 person public relations company that grew into Central Pennsylvania's largest. "After being there for a few years, I asked Deborah if she wanted to go into our own consulting business. She said yes." In 2001, PRworks Inc. was launched. "PRworks successes are because of Deb. She was the thought partner of the company.
"From the very beginning of PRworks, we worked with the talented people of Intrada Technologies in Muncy, PA. When it came time to start our march to retirement, Deborah and I were so pleased that these long time partners, focused in web and internet technologies, wanted to retain the PRworks brand to support their own core business." In January, 2015, Intrada owners David Steele and Paul Boyer purchased PRworks. Bob continues to serve as a senior consultant with the new owners and staff.
When discussing the public relations field and how it has changed over the years, Bob had one word. Typewriter. "I learned to type on an Underwood typewriter. PR was very different back then. I have witnessed the transition of media—how it has grown and transformed." Bob has watched the communication pathway to audiences become completely digitized. But he is concerned that the march of technology has diminished professional journalism to "I" journalism. "There is no longer a good system of fact checking and there has been a loss of quality editors as digital technology has changed the face of how 'news' is delivered. The demise of America's newspapers, when news was separate from advertising and entertainment, was a hallmark of our American culture. Many of the changes today saddens me. Media outlets want to be the first to report, even if the information is not fact checked."
Bob sees more mergers of content coming in the public relations field. "There will be a continuing blurring of the lines between PR, advertising, and marketing."
He is accredited by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and is a charter member of the Central Pennsylvania Chapter. In August, 2008 he was elected to the PRSA College of Fellows. The College of Fellows is an honorary organization, comprised of fewer than 350 senior practitioners and educators world-wide, each who has made a significant contribution to the public relations profession, mentor those just entering the field and promoting professionalism and ethical practice. Locally, he is the recipient of awards in the communications industry including the coveted Frederick E. Leuschner Award, saluting excellence in public relations awarded by the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of PRSA and the Ernest R. McDowell award for excellence in public relations from the Pennsylvania Public Relations Society.
Intrada and PRworks are long-time strategic partners and have jointly worked as counsel
and a support team to many of Intrada's and PRworks' clients.
To read more about the partnership, click here.