From living in a small town to working professionally in PR, alum Phil Bussey recognizes the impact BYU had on his career
Phil Bussey was just out of college when his hard work led him to intern for the Rockey Company in Portland, Oregon. Now, forty years later, while serving as a mission president in Spain, Bussey received the 2020 Jay Rockey Lifetime Achievement Award. This award is from the Puget Sound Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. Jay Rockey himself hired Bussey, and Bussey was the first BYU student the company had ever hired. “Jay was known as the godfather of PR in the northwest. He was incredibly well known and respected, and he cared about his interns. Even as my career progressed, I could call him up and he would counsel me,” said Bussey. “To even be considered in the same company as Jay is incredibly humbling.” The award is given annually to someone who worked in public relations for a minimum of 20 years, helped advance the field of public relations in the Puget Sound area, worked with outstanding professional ability and conduct, and served as a leader in the public relations profession.
When Bussey looks back on his life, he thinks about growing up in a small farming town in California, and he is astonished by the experiences he’s had. “BYU opened my mind. I was given so many opportunities through professors who invested in me and a school that cared about its students,” said Bussey. “I have a big debt of gratitude to BYU.” Bussey graduated from the School of Communications at BYU in 1980 and worked at several different companies throughout his career, including the Westinghouse company, the Washington Roundtable, Puget Sound Energy and the Seattle Chamber of Commerce. Bussey spent the last six years of his career working as the senior vice president at Puget Sound Energy. “My job was to take the company from being rated the worst in customer service to being rated the best. By the time I left, we were the first or top quartile in all areas, and we did it without increasing our budget. It was really fun but also a real challenge,” said Bussey. “I had to learn a whole new side of the industry, but my PR, communications and advocacy experiences really came into play.” From his years spent working with professionals in large companies, Bussey believes one of the most important aspects of working professionally in PR is integrity.
“Of all the gifts that you have, it is so important to maintain your integrity. Having integrity opened so many doors and created so many successes because people knew we were true to our word,” said Bussey. “Being honest is so incredibly important. You’re not always going to be working, and you want to know that you’re good with yourself and what you’ve done.”