Member Spotlight: Rachel Kerstetter, APR

This Member Spotlight profiles Rachel Kerstetter, APR, marketing operations director for Integrated Supply Network. She joined PRSA in 2011, through the Greater Cleveland chapter, joined PRSA Tampa Bay in 2020, and currently serves as the chapter’s content and website chair for the Digital Communications Committee.

  1. First news publication you read in the morning?

I usually skim news digest emails from PRSA and the Association of National Advertisers first thing. I also shift between a number of local, business and auto care news outlets.

  1. First public relations job?

My first full-time public relations job was as a public relations coordinator at a small B2B marketing agency in Cleveland working with industrial manufacturers. However, I trace my public relations roots back to a virtual internship (before there even was such a thing!) with an animal welfare nonprofit and a customer service job for a car dealership, which was my main job during college.

Celebrating a successful showing for my team in Cleveland in 2017 with three Rocks Awards, the annual awards program of the PRSA Greater Cleveland chapter.

  1. Most important career mentor, and why?

I’ve had a lot of great mentors in my career; but two of the most important have been my former bosses Matt Sonnhalter, president at Sonnhalter, a manufacturing marketing agency in Cleveland, and Allen Pfenninger, a former vice president at Fahlgren Mortine, an integrated marketing agency in Columbus, Ohio. They helped propel my career by endorsing my skills and abilities to both clients and potential new employers, establishing my credibility to people who would have otherwise underestimated me, and showing confidence in me by giving me stretch assignments that helped me challenge myself and gain experience.

  1. Most rewarding accomplishment in public relations?

Earning my APR last August was incredibly rewarding. I had been thinking about it and planning for it for a long time, and it felt like an even bigger victory earning it during the pandemic, when I had to navigate a new virtual readiness review and exam process. 

Finally meeting my online friend and APR mentor Kristin Ewing, APR, past president of the PRSA Oklahoma City chapter, in person at the PRSA International Conference in Boston in 2017. We originally connected online over a shared medical condition, and then we found out we were both active PRSA chapter leaders! 

  1. Biggest challenge of adapting to the COVID-19 lockdown?

Moving to Tampa, because I had  to adapt to a new city, state, and climate while not being able to go out, explore the area, and make new friends. Professionally, I made a big career jump and transitioned to my new job completely remotely, so forging connections with my new colleagues required more effort than if we had been able to work together in the office.

  1. Advice to new public relations professionals?

Never stop learning. Take advantage of opportunities to do training, ask questions from people in the field and read whatever you can.

With my husband, Brad, in Cleveland in 2016, getting ready to watch the Cleveland Cavaliers win the NBA Finals at a watch party.

  1. Job you would pursue if you weren’t in public relations?

Pretty much any job that would pay me to read. Narrating audiobooks of novels tops that list right now.

  1. Favorite movie?

It’s tough to choose. I love a variety of movies, but some of my favorites are The Time Traveler’s Wife, My Best Friend’s Wedding and Gattaca.

  1. Favorite vacation?

A trip to London where my husband and I celebrated our eighth anniversary. It was really cool to be able to see so much history, dive into art and literature experiences, and, of course, sample different foods and drinks and experience new things.

Touring HMS Belfast, a World War II warship, on the Thames River in London, with the Tower of London (left) and Tower Bridge (right) in the background.

  1. Any three dinner guests?

My father, Donald Engelhardt, who passed away when I was 22, just when I was getting started, and who there is so much I would love to talk about with now. The other two are tougher choices, but I’d love to sit down with U.S. Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor and former U.K. prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

My husband and me in Maui in 2018, on my second favorite vacation.

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