DENISE WHITAKER, REPORTER (KOMO)

FIELD: PR (KOMO NEWS) HOME: SEATTLE ZODIAC: CANCER


A. |  How do you define yourself?

Strong, outgoing, charismatic, and adventuresome.

A. | What is your work routine? What does your job entail? 

My day can be anywhere and anything and that is why I love what I do, I love adventure. Two years ago when the Seahawks won the Super Bowl I was sitting at my desk and my boss walked in and asked me, "can you be on the plane in one hour?” I said "sure," and she said “ok you’re going to the White House” so I freshened up and was at the White House all day covering the Seahawks.

A. | How did you become interested in your field?

Twice in one hometown newspaper I was completely misquoted and misrepresented. That’s when I chose to become a journalist and knew I wanted to work to always get it right.

A. | What do you do outside our your work routine?

I love to bake and bead. All of my Christmas gifts were handmade this year. I like being creative even when I am not at work.

A. | What is unique about Seattle’s fashion industry or style?

When I first moved here all I was seeing was black, black, black, and black. I moved here from a Southern town so very different—I never used to wear black and when I moved to the city of Seattle I started wearing a little more. It has taken me a little while to see that people have fashion in Seattle but now I love seeing it here.

A. | What would you like to see more of in Seattle?

I would like to see more color here, especially on gray days.

A. | What are the biggest challenges you have overcome?

I have been taken off of a show or had shows canceled on me and that’s challenging because you could look at yourself as being a failure but audiences are finicky—you cannot please everybody all of the time; a failure is an opportunity to grow and learn and grow.

A. | Where do you feel at home?

Speaking in terms of work, I feel at home and comfortable when I am able to wear a dress. I often have to wear yoga pants and snowboarding pants over my clothes because I have to be functional here in Seattle. Being at home fashionably is being dressed up in dress or in vintage.

A. | How does oppression and privilege influence people’s success in your field?

I don’t believe in luck. People make decisions day in and day out. I don’t doubt that people are born into bad situations or oppression but that isn’t just bad luck.  You can reverse these situations with better decisions. The key is to help these people when we can to help bring them up.

A. | What is success?

Achieving your own happiness.  

A. | For which unexpected events should you prepare in a public relations career? 

Lots of criticism. Your appearance is just as important as the story you are giving which is frustrating to young journalists. You hear a lot of comments like “well what are you wearing?” or “that lipstick doesn’t go” and you’re like “well did you hear the story?” You have to develop a thick skin. As a woman you definitely have to prepare yourself for the fact that typically men are going to get better and more assignments than you do. I can list off the assignments that my male colleges get over me when I thought that I could do better. Even socially at work my boss would always offer these opportunities to play golf to the men and I’d be the one left at work all of the time. I went to a women’s golf school to learn how to play golf too and I went up to my boss one day and said “just so you know I am now a golfer and would like to be invited to these tournaments” and so he gave me first right on every tournament going forward just because I took the initiative—you can’t just be upset and say well the men or getting this and I am not, you have to have a solution. It isn’t good enough to identify a problem without coming up with a solution.

A. | What would you recommend to yourself 20 years ago?

Don’t be so narrow focused. I could have branched out more and given myself more wordly experiences than I allowed myself.