Dina Piran: Senior Communications Associate, PR, for Project Bread—The Walk for Hunger

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After graduating from the University of Massachusetts, Dina Piran intended to use her bachelor's degree in communication and film in the film production industry. However, after a friend who worked at a PR agency introduced her to the field, Piran decided to make the transition from film to public relations.

Piran worked her way up from “the bottom of the totem pole” in her career to her current position as senior communications associate for Project Bread—The Walk for Hunger, a leading nonprofit organization whose goal is to combat hunger in Massachusetts. In this position, Piran oversees the daily functions of the PR division of the agency’s communications team, looking for new ways to promote Project Bread to the media and public.

“I have been able to increase the awareness of Project Bread initiatives and special events by securing coverage in the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, as well as many local newspapers, television, and radio stations,” Piran explained.

She is also responsible for securing media coverage for events that the organization sponsors, such as the Walk for Hunger, which is the oldest continual pledge walk in the country and helps the agency donate funds to 400 emergency food programs across the state.

“I love working for an organization that I am able to stand behind with my full belief in it and all it stands for,” Piran said. “This allows me to be [the] most convincing with messaging and pitching. By generating media attention, I am able to spread the good word throughout the community.”

Q. What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t working?
A. I try to stay active, playing with my dog, Dalie, going to the gym, and taking tennis lessons. I love going to the movies, watching the Red Sox, and spending quality time with friends and family. I do volunteer work for Boston Cares, the largest organization in Massachusetts dedicated to team-oriented volunteering on a flexible basis. My favorite volunteering projects are ones where I can work with animals.

Q. Who is your role model?
A. A few bosses that I have worked with over the years. I look up to their work ethic, persistence, strategy, and tact. I look up to strong women, including Oprah Winfrey, Maria Shriver, and Hillary Clinton.

Q. What songs are on your iPod right now?
A. I use my iPod mostly at the gym. The songs must be upbeat and motivating. A vast variety of songs from the following artists: John Mayer, Coldplay, Jack Johnson, Jeff Buckley, U2, Al Green, Alicia Keys, Pearl Jam, Dixie Chicks, Sarah McLachlan, Usher, Sarah Brightman, Jay-Z, Outcast, Black Eyed Peas, Fergie, R. Kelly, Rascal Flatts, and Pink.

Q. What was the last magazine that you read?
A. The last magazines I read were the latest issues of Boston Magazine and the Improper Bostonian. I like to stay updated on the latest Boston news, gossip, restaurants, and stores.

Prior to working for Project Bread, Piran worked for Regan Communications, a for-profit PR agency, as an account manager. There, she dealt with many clients, representing restaurants, a casino, real estate firms, physicians, law firms, and more.
Piran admitted that while transitioning from a for-profit firm to a nonprofit organization was a big change, both have their benefits.

“At Regan Communications I enjoyed having lots of clients, gaining exposure to so many different industries, and the fast-paced environment. There was never a dull moment,” said Piran. “At Project Bread—The Walk for Hunger I work as the in-house PR expert as opposed to working for numerous clients at a time. I enjoy this because I am able to focus my energy and support for an organization with great values. How much greater value can you get than working toward alleviating, preventing, and ultimately ending hunger in Massachusetts?”

Piran also explained that she has freedom to use her creativity at Project Bread.

“I am encouraged to be creative, and new ideas are always welcomed,” she said. “The positive and supportive environment at Project Bread encourages me to think ‘outside of the box.’”

In order to perform all of the duties that her job requires of her, Piran relies on her creative writing skills and personal relationship skills. She also considers it important to be up to date on the latest news, so she reads popular, local, and national magazines on a daily basis.

Piran offered this advice for students or professionals starting out in the public relations industry:

“It is important to be persistent and confident, while not taking the high demands and pressure of the PR world personally. You will come across many people who will challenge you to do your best, as well as those with a grateful and appealing character. Learning to work with all types of personalities is a requisite. Happiness is most important overall. There will be some very bad days but also some wonderful days. Always be true to yourself, and don’t lose sight of your morals and values.”
On the net:Project Bread
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