I’ve had the great fortune in my work life to have had a number of mentors. Each has come along at just the right time and taught me, patiently, what I needed to know to move my career along. A mentor is a very giving person, who is also expert at what they do. One of my mentors is/has been Mary Schanuel, president of Synergy Group.
Synergy Group was the public relations agency working with Lawrence Group president, Steve Smith, when I was hired in 1999. I came on board as director of marketing services at Lawrence Group and took over the management of the agency work for the company, among other things. This is how I began working with Mary at Synergy Group.
Mary not only knew more about Lawrence Group than I did when I was hired, but knew more about public relations, news, writing for the media, crisis communications, media relations and a host of other related things, and what I know about these things I have learned from watching her. I think everyone who works in public relations should take a turn as a reporter, as an account manager at an agency and as an in-house communications person. Each role adds a level of understanding to anyone’s communications career, and Mary has done each of these. She’s a truly well-rounded expert.
Mary saw the impact that the Web and social media were beginning to have on marketing communications before anyone else I know. She dug into the emerging technology and used what she learned about those subjects to expand Synergy Group’s Web site and media center, which has benefitted all of her clients.
If your company or nonprofit organization has reached a point where you need the insights of a communications strategist, you should set up a meeting with Mary to explore options. She can be reached at
7915 Big Bend Boulevard
St. Louis, Missouri 63119
Compared to me, Mary is a quiet person (well, maybe compared to me, everyone is “quiet.”) I like to tell people she has perfected the art of listening, which is one of the things that makes her so good at public relations.
On top of all this, Mary and her husband, award-winning artist and photographer Tony Schanuel, are well traveled and spiritual people, who share a deep appreciation of art, culture and nature.
Check out the Web site Mary has built for > Synergy Group <.
Her blog is AEC St. Louis: Architecture, Engineering & Construction News, which I’ve added to my blogroll. Subscribe for free and stay on top of news she covers in AEC St. Louis.
Image of Koi Dream, 2006, digital medium on archival paper, by Tony Schanuel via the Web
Editor’s note: I have learned so much from Mary in nearly a decade of working with her. She has helped me gain insight into the news business, develop an ear for news, given me courage in developing my own media relationships, sharpened my strategic thinking and a host of other skills that help me as a communications professional today. Unfortunately, due to cost cutting measures taken by my employer last fall, I no longer have the budget to work with Synergy Group. Mary and I still shoot e-mails to each other from time to time, but I sure do owe her a visit.