Keynote Speaker, Scott Thornburg, APR [Leadership Rally Recap]

Courtesy of Skye Amanda Clayton, Dixie State University

On the last day of PRSSA’s Leadership Rally, all attendees heard from Scott Thornburg, PRSA National Board Director-At-Large.

Currently, Scott lives in San Francisco, CA and is the Senior PR Manager at Sojern. Sojern is a big-name travel data company that utilizes programmatic buying and machine learning technology.

First, Scott discussed his upbringing and the various internships and jobs he had early on in his career. Scott initially studied music at the University of Southern Mississippi however; he later switched to public relations. He joined PRSSA after one of his professors recommended it.

The focus of Scott’s presentation was on his journey and how each of us has our own path. He highlighted two lessons from his journey in particular: 1) the importance of failure and feedback and 2) how personality and motivations impact working relationships.

Failure and Feedback.

Scott discussed an experience he had while working at HotWire Global in San Francisco. He had met a work colleague for coffee when she explained to Scott that he wasn’t fulfilling his role at the company. She had wanted him to step up on an account but he didn’t. Ultimately, the job wasn’t a good fit for Scott so he moved on.

Scott explained how this one failure had transformed him and allowed him to “fall forward,” which is a popular mindset in Silicon Valley. He believes it’s important to live by the idea of “trial and error” because life is all about progress and adjustment.

In the field of communications, there’s a philosophy of continuous innovation. With this, it is essential in our career to ask for real-time, quality feedback. Scott advised us to say something along the lines of, “How did this go? Is this what was expected of me?” In college, when we turn in a project, we get the grade and move on from it. But, in the real world, we keep getting back the project and it must be perfect.

Regarding failure along the way, Scott recommends a book titled, “Happiness Hack” by Ellen Leanse. Ellen is one of Scott’s friends and she talks about the idea of intention and tension. This book provides ways to find happiness in the digital age, along with pop culture and all other news. He considers the book a “user’s manual for the brain.”

Personality and Motivations.

With the next section of his presentation, Scott explained how the Meyer Briggs personality test can be a useful component of your resume because employers can get a sense of your personality and how you may function in the workplace. Scott shared how he is an ENTJ. This personality stands for Extroverted, Intuitive, Thinker and Judging. This means he quickly gathers information, makes a decision and moves onto the next task.

In addition to this, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs applies in the workplace. When communicating with multiple personalities, you have to make an effort to understand everyone’s motivations to have a successful relationship.

Scott ended his presentation by saying, “life is a journey.” No matter what field or what you want to do, just explore. There may not be a clear path yet but keep pushing and don’t give up.

To get in touch with Scott, follow him on Twitter @ScottWesley, or email him at

Diana Ochoa is a rising junior at American University majoring in Public Relations & Strategic Communication and double minoring in Marketing and Business & Entertainment. She was born and raised in the Washington D.C. area and joined PRSSA as a freshman in Fall 2016. PRSSA has been a major part of her career ever since. This past spring, she was elected the new Chapter President of AU PRSSA. She is super excited to take on this new role, and grow the chapter to new heights!

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