2022 represented a fresh start for three members of Issues Management Group transitioning from other high-level communications roles into public relations agency life. It was a big change, but a rewarding one for all three. Rich Copp, Dan Manning, and Evan White brought vastly different career experiences in health care, government, and journalism. Still, they came together to become part of something new at 30 Winter Street.
Daniel Manning worked for nearly ten years in city government in Boston before leaving to become the Director of Public Affairs at the Norfolk County Sheriff’s Office, then in April, he became a Vice President at Issues Management Group.
Rich Copp, an industry veteran, is best known for a 13-year public relations career at Mass General Brigham where he rose to Vice President of Communications. Copp also worked for the state for five years as a communications director. He joined IMG in March of 2022 as a Senior Vice President.
Evan White was a television and digital journalist for nearly 20 years in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. He generated original story ideas, launched investigations, and covered major events including presidential visits, social justice demonstrations, natural disasters, and the NFL’s New England Patriots. Evan began working for IMG as an Account Director in April.
Note – The Q&A has been edited for brevity.
What did you think the transition into agency life was going to be like?
“I wasn’t expecting to deal with anything in PR…I have learned to see (government relations) through a different set of lenses for sure…with respect to the firm itself, I didn’t know what to expect…the work is different, the deadlines are different.”
I have been in health care PR for my entire career and I actually never thought I would wind up at a PR agency …However, it was a unique moment for this organization. Dan Cence, our CEO, he really wanted someone to run the health care practice. Health care has become one of the largest books of business at Issues Management Group and he really wanted someone with extensive health care experience to oversee that. The acquisition of Murphy Donoghue Partners – one of the most respected lobbying firms in the region – made the decision easy for me. I’ve always lived at the intersection of PR and GR. That move made this an obvious choice for me.”
“I was excited to take on a new challenge, and confident in my abilities, but there was some anxiety with integrating into a different environment where presentations, written work, and deadlines were a departure from what I knew. Being patient with myself was the hardest part.
Recommendations for others looking to make a mid-career move?
“If you can find your time to breathe (between jobs), take the time.”
“Be open minded. One of the concerns I had was going from an 80,000-person organization to a 55-person organization. Don’t feel like because you’ve only done one thing in your career you need to stick with that. Don’t rule anything out, rule everything in.”
“Get as much feedback from industry professionals as you can about the day-to-day work, challenges, and benefits of a new industry from those who know best. Then, go with your gut.”
What have you enjoyed most about IMG?
“It’s a different lifestyle. There’s more freedom and a lot more space to operate. There’s a level of rigidity in government that limits the types of projects you can work on. At IMG I’ve been able to work on projects that expand beyond their scope. That’s refreshing and I’ve really enjoyed it.”
“The people, the office. This does feel like it’s a new moment for this organization. SMC had a rich history here in Boston, a well-known PR firm, but we’ve grown, and I think we continue to be in growth mode. With new capabilities and a new office, this feels like something new. I do feel like I am getting in on the ground floor of something new.”
“There’s a true team environment and willingness to collaborate and succeed together and that’s rare in professional life regardless of your industry. You’re encouraged to lean into your strengths and as I round out my first year, I have found more ways to do just that.”