2013 Brandt Lecture - Rob Gould on Talking to Social Animals

Posted on: April 23, 2013

Gould in front of lecture hallThe Ellis N. Brandt Endowed Lecture for 2013 offered a look at how social science can contribute to designing and implementing effective communication campaigns. "Talking to Social Animals: From Food Pyramids to the 'Truth'" was the title of this engaging talk by Rob Gould, executive VP of public relations firm Brodeur Partners.

Gould has led some of the nation's most successful health campaigns throughout his 30+ year career, including creating the well-known, award-winning "Truth" anti-tobacco campaign. He was the lead researcher on the development of the Food Guide Pyramid for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"It's wonderful to study communications and the other fields that are related to communications and the social sciences. That's where I started my career and I've never regretted pursuing an advanced degree in the social sciences," said Gould. "What I really want [the audience] to come away with is: fundamentally it's an applied discipline."

"And if you're going to move from testing theories to practicing as a communications professional, it's probably good to talk to people who've been through that transition. That transition means being aware of the problems you're trying to solve. If they're worthy of solving, the big problems -- they fight back," said Gould.

Gould also had advice for students looking toward careers in journalism and communication. "Deciding who you work for is the biggest challenge," he said. "If you're in communication and you're going towards journalism, that would be a great example of choosing wisely. There are new forms emerging now, funded by foundations and other non-profits that are giving sort of a new life to a kind of journalism that actually might be better than the for-profit model that we've worried over for the past ten years. And maybe these new forms might actually provide some better opportunities for people to work for leaders who really have a clear vision about what journalism communication can really be and should be."

"Looking out five years, we'll get beyond the whole discussion of bloggers and the credibility of the media and all that -— I think those issues will work themselves out. The big issue will be, who do you work for?"

Prior to his current position with Brodeur Partners, Rob Gould has worked with public and private non-profit organizations such as the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Heart Association.

The annual Ellis N. Brandt Endowed Lecture focuses on public relations and the public interest. The Brandt Lecture was created by the Gerstacker Foundation and is named after Ellis N. Brandt (BA '43 Journalism), a vice president of the foundation. Brandt is a recipient of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences Outstanding Alumni Award.


Rob Gould in front of classroom

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