I’m Liselle Yorke, senior PR manager at Population Research Bureau (PRB). I spend my days helping demographers, global health specialists and researchers explain why and how data and research findings can change people’s everyday lives.
Tell us about why you joined WWPR
I’m surrounded by academics so rejoining WWPR was a way to keep my creative juices flowing and learn from others trying to navigate our “new normal”. I really enjoyed our March 10 professional development book talk. Hearing what others were reading and getting different perspectives on our main themes of vulnerability, making space for others, and building relationships was really insightful for me.
What do you love about PR and your specific role?
I view myself as a storyteller. In my current role that means explaining the impact of population trends to different audiences and working with researchers to package and share their findings in formats that can be understood and acted on by policymakers, advocates and communities.
One memorable campaign is the launch of a February 2020 report on the risk of undercounting young children (under the age of 5) in the 2020 Census and the potential impact of underfunding of communities, especially areas that need these resources. We faced a huge challenge because we had to launch it during the same week as the U.S. Senate’s vote on impeaching then President Trump and the National Prayer Breakfast. Our advantage was that the issue had staying power beyond those events and we were able to garner coverage in the ensuing weeks, including interviews on WABE (NPR Atlanta affiliate) and an expansive piece in NJ.com.
During the pandemic, journalists have been citing our data on aging and global population trends in pieces looking at the impact of the virus on different populations. Many have either tapped into articles and data we’ve already published, or they’ve asked us to provide specific data for their stories. There has been less interest in the areas that don’t directly relate to the pandemic so we’re experimenting with different ways to tell those stories.
How has the PR industry changed in the last five years and what are you doing differently that seems to work in your industry?
The changes over the last five years are in many ways an acceleration of trends we’ve seen coming for some time, notably more strategic use of digital and social media as newsrooms shrink and our “audiences” become more active information consumers. I moved from international development to research/academia in 2019 and in this space, data journalism is key. In our work at PRB, we’re trying to present data and research findings differently (visualizations, newsier articles, blogs, social media graphics) to help readers connect the dots to everyday life.
During this time, was there any hobby you picked up or spent more time doing that you have enjoyed?
Overdrive and my local public libraries have become my best friends! I now listen to at least two audiobooks each week, usually mysteries (I highly recommend Louise Penny, Ann Cleeves, and Ngaio Marsh). I’ve also started listening to a lot more podcasts that cover pop culture, news, and personal development.
What are some of your favorite things to do in the DMV area and how have you adjusted since Covid-19?
My teen daughter and I like taking road trips. With both of us working/learning from home, mini trips have become our way to get out while staying safe. We simply pick a street and then go wherever it takes us. Just last week we discovered that Georgia Ave (Rte 97) takes you from Washington, D.C. through Montgomery, Howard and Carroll counties in Maryland.
Why did you join WWPR, how has the experience been and what advice would you give to someone wanting to join WWPR?
If you want to be in a place where you can learn, grow and thrive with like-minded PR professionals, WWPR is the place for you.