How Music Set the Tempo for My Career in Financial PR

On the first day of orientation at the University of North Carolina, our class was shown a presentation that was so simple it bordered on insulting. The first slide showed the equation: What you’re good at + [heart emoji] = Career.

Still, it made me and many other eager-eyed college freshmen do some deep thinking.

I felt lucky because I had two passions: music and journalism. However, I couldn’t decide which I loved more. Was it writing, strategizing and problem solving in breaking news journalism and crisis communications; or, creating through music, singing and playing violin and piano?

I ended up pursuing both paths, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and vocal performance.And, as it turned out, all of the things I loved = Career.

After four years of orchestra ensemble, studio singing, voice recitals and opera performances, the primary skill I learned, which is a common denominator of every people-facing field, was communication.

Projecting confidence, researching, listening and emphasizing aesthetics all play a role in building a successful career in public relations. Here’s how:


The first thing you need to do is know your stuff.

Take an aria (a melodic song for a solo voice). Think about the composer’s intent, the pronunciation, translation, character’s intent, and purpose of the song. The best arias fill out operas and lead to the next progression of events. Each has a purpose. Simply standing and singing beautifully doesn’t cut it.

Likewise, in PR, the most successful campaign strategies come from careful research of the thought process and behaviors of a client’s audience, as well as its industry, the competitive landscape and how the company has been portrayed in the media. All in all, it’s about prep and knowing the steps needed to accomplish your client’s goals.


In orchestra, you rely on those around you, and they rely on you.

In PR, sometimes the best communication comes from listening and empathizing with your client, their audience and the media. Being receptive to the slightest changes, in tempo and character, can crossover to challenging PR conversations. Remaining aware of client goals plays a large role in successful partnerships.


Even before you speak, body language and energy impress your image. Studies have determined that it can take as little as one-tenth of a second for someone to form an impression of you.

Hold that head up, relax your shoulders, and don’t forget to smile. Multiple voice lessons consisted of my energetic teacher, “Sparky,” yelling “Eyes! Cheeks!” as we broke down French love songs or Italian arias. Emoting and engaging in the piece are just as critical as forming media or peer relationships in PR. Engaging in shared interests, listening to career experiences and presenting yourself professionally, especially as a younger executive, can lead to greater respect and longer-lasting relationships. Being authentic is also extremely important—the audience can tell when you’re not being yourself, or when a message isn’t consistent with reality.

I love to keep up with music in my spare time. In fact, I joined the Oratorio Society of New York the same month that I joined Dukas Linden, and my violin hasn’t gathered dust just yet. Both fields will continue to influence each other.

Good communications should be like great music—well composed, distinctive, compelling, melodic and persuasive.

By Roisin Bermingham, Junior Account Executive





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