What got you into this business?
I thought I wanted to be an attorney, but I didn’t want to go to law school right away. I did want to do something where I could use my mind and make an impact on my work. Walking on Michigan Ave. in Chicago, my father said “I’ve worked with a great PR firm up here. Edelman. If you can work for them, you can work anywhere in this profession.” Got back to school on the north side, earned an internship at Edelman and didn’t look back.
Who has been your biggest influence in your career?
I have had quite a few. Malcolm Ehrhardt, my dad and business partner, has taught me about being a man of character and integrity in all aspects of life. Also, taught me not to be afraid to succeed. Byron Arthur, my high school debate coach and lifelong friend, taught me how to make arguments and represent a point of view with passion and intelligence. Most importantly, he taught me what it means to contribute to a team and how to be a good friend. Michelle Thompson, my first supervisor, and now my friend and colleague. Michelle taught me about news, what makes news, what doesn’t and that if you want to get on the Today Show, get up and pitch them at midnight when they get to the office.
If you weren’t in PR what would you be doing?
I’d be a chef or I would have figured out a way to work for a professional world cycling team, so I could work the Tour de France and other grand tours in Europe.
What’s a great client story you’d care to share?
It’s hard to pick. However, 12-year-old me picks the in-market public relations for WrestleMania XXX. Got to see the Undertaker’s 20-plus match winning streak end from about 100-feet away, walk WWE Superstars down the purple carpet and meet Rowdy Roddy Piper at the WWE Hall of Fame.
What’s your favorite sports team?
The Chicago Cubs since we got cable in 1982. Being in the stadium to watch them win the World Series is one of the best moments of my life, behind marrying my wife and the births of our two children. The New Orleans Saints forever even when we stunk.
What was college like for you?
I crushed it. Became friends with some of the best people who didn’t necessarily look or think like me, which turned out great. Got to live in Chicago, work at Wrigley Field during one summer and on Capitol Hill in Washington DC the next.
What makes the Gulf Coast stand out to you?
A client told me once that we have been able to work on major events and crises that public relations professionals in other parts of the world could only talk about. He was right. Working and living on the Gulf Coast has allowed me to make a real impact with my work mostly in the best of times and unfortunately sometimes in the most challenging times. I am proud to be from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast and I’m proud my children will grow up here.
What are two things most people don’t know about you?
I rode the Gran Fondo New York, a 100-mile cycling ride from the George Washington Bridge in Manhattan up and back along the Hudson River in the rain. I was a judge at the World Championship of BBQ at Memphis in May. I also won the Louisiana State Debate Championship in 1991 (that’s a long time ago.).