Jane Genova
Jane Genova

My writing career had been in existence almost as long as O’Dwyer’s has been an institution in public relations.

But it wasn’t until the late 1980s that our worlds intersected. At the time, I headed the executive communications function at a major food corporation. This ended with a Stalin-like purge. The middle management layer in corporate America was being eliminated. The ordeal was so brutal that I decided: Never again will I be laid off.

I hung out a shingle. Jack O’Dwyer heard. He put a blurb about my venture in his newsletter. Those were the old print days. Not only did the plug bring in my first assignments, but it lifted some of the stigma associated with being cut from the team. Yes, back then, there was laid-off shaming.

The silver lining was that part of the new business model was outsourcing. Once I developed marketing and sales skills, I was able to grab a big piece of that action. Days of heaven.

That was then.

In the early 21st century, O’Dwyer’s would again come to the rescue. After the Enron scandal executives went low-profile. Things got much worse when budgets for executive communications were slashed during the post-9/11 recession. I maintained a presence in communications by publishing articles on the O’Dwyer’s now-digital newsletter.

Meanwhile, I struggled to figure out the next step. One day I read in the New York Times about Ana Marie Cox’s Wonkette blog. It was posted on digital-only media outlet Gawker. Hmm, I thought, I could do that. And so I did.

The blog I set up — janegenova.com — positioned me as digital player. Again, it was days of heaven, only the assignments were for blogging, not ghostwriting opinion-editorials for the New York Times.

But digital began putting journalists, the Don Draper types, and corporate internal communications scribes out of work. It was and continues to be a talent glut. In that buyers’ market, compensation keeps spiraling downward and working conditions become more and more Dickensian.

Curse the entity called one’s “comfort zone.” I hung in with writing too long. When I finally exited, the relief was profound.

In putting together the next step, again O’Dwyer’s has been there for me. My startup provides coaching, auditing, lecturing and thought leadership content about aging. The mission is to outfox ageism, especially discrimination in the workplace.

Recently, odwyerpr.com published two of my articles. Of course, those pulled in new business. What has been even more important is this: The exposure once again re-positioned and re-packaged me as a winner. Big names in communications, human resources and law contacted me. Yeah, I’m back.

May O’Dwyer’s continue to scale over the next 50 years. The workplace volatility will likely accelerate. We need to know that now and then we can just pause and let the folks at O’Dwyer’s help us out.


Jane Genova heads Genova Communications and Coaching which specializes in over-50 issues.