After more than two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, it can be hard to quantify the ways in which we have changed. Our pandemic coverage helps us understand the industry impact, and it seems unlikely that any of our content has been untouched by the unique circumstances that have taken root since the start of 2020.

But so much of that change has occurred at a human level, where many of the lessons emerge from the various conversations and anecdotes that underpin our stories and events. To better showcase these learnings, and provide a measure of insight into how the global PR industry is responding to such a transformative era, this series asks people what they have learned, according to three specific areas.

In the latest installment in our series, we hear from Carve Communications CEO and co-founder David Barkoe, who learned that trying to push through a 60, 70 or 80-hour work week is "simply not effective and doesn’t do anyone any good in the long run."

Three things I've learned... 

The biggest thing I’ve learned after nearly 25 years in the PR biz is there is no one way to succeed in your career or grow within this industry. Coming out of college, you were made to believe that either you had to go back and get your MBA or get in an agency and work work work until you go up level by level. But that’s not true. It’s different for everyone. Some folks are built for traditional agency life. Getting in line and waiting your turn and having lots of bosses or multiple years in multiple places. Some are destined to cast that system aside and step out on their own, either starting an agency or just freelancing. Others realize the agency life isn’t for them and they go from in-house role to in-house role. In the end, you have to determine what’s best for you and, for me, it was, finally and eventually, to venture out and start Carve Communications. 

The old ways still work, still matter and are still very effective. By old ways, I mean relationships, writing a solid pitch, understanding your media target, using elbow grease to find the right angle, etc. To this day, I still put the first name of anyone I’m emailing in the subject line. A trick I, and many others, learned from Drew Kerr at Four Corners Communications. It might seem simple, but it's super effective. At the same time, though, we have to meld those old ways into the new ways. Old school media relations has to work in concert with influencer marketing and content curation. The biggest thing, and it's one of the four tenets we live by here at Carve Communications, is that PR is more public than ever before. When I started in 1998, PR was media relations, with the occasional consumer-facing event to hand out some product in Union Square. Now, with social media, influencers, events and more, we’re able to directly engage the public at the same time we’re engaging the media to provide that ever-so-important third-party validation.


This might be the hardest one to answer because the other two play such a big role in how you grow as a person, not just a professional.  For starters, you realize you’re going to make mistakes, big and small, and I’ve made my share of them. Those mistakes have affected me personally and professionally, but I’ve taken my bumps and learned from them and came out better on the other side.  At the same time, you have to keep being you. Don't try to be someone else. Don’t try to strive for the 40 under 40 just because you see someone else on it. That might not be the path for you. Each of us have our own path and our own way of doing things, our own unique set of skills, and it takes time to not just develop those skills, but embrace them and understand which ones are your true strengths. Most important is to make time and take time to step away. I’ve learned to make sure I take as much time as I can with my family. Taking time away from email/slack is vital for me personally and professionally. I have made a point to take my weekends for my personal life and not try to push through a 60, 70, 80 hour work week. It’s simply not effective and doesn’t do anyone any good in the long run.

If you'd like to share your three lessons, please let us know.