I was recently asked to answer a series of questions about PR by a local college student. Here are a few of the questions with my answers.
What skills do you use most often in PR? Writing, editing, conversing.
Do many of your clients have their own ideas of what they want you to use? Yes. Clients generally get good feedback from their customers, so they have good knowledge of their customers and their needs.
What part of your job is the most mundane? Waiting. For responses to calls/texts/emails. For meetings to happen.
Where and how did you get your first practical experience in public relations? I suggested to a client that his company donate an item to VA Medical Center at Jefferson Barracks. Not only did it lead to coverage when they delivered the item, it influenced another media person (a Vietnam vet) to provide greater coverage soon after.
What kinds of unexpected things have you encountered working in PR? The distaste that many PR pros who work for huge agencies have for media pitching. The prejudice that some PR and marketing firms have against older people. The tremendous guidance I have received from those who have done this much longer than I have.
Do you feel that “common sense” aspects of PR are as beneficial as the educational aspects? Common sense is vital in any job where a worker has to consider the needs of many parties, particularly the parties who pay you. The educational aspects provide important perspective.
What are your most memorable experiences during your career in PR? Getting front-page coverage with photos in the Sunday Post-Dispatch. Spinning the AB sale story into a feel-good TV package. Having a local website post my “fantastic” release intact with the preface: “I can’t capture the brilliance, so I’ll just reproduce it here.” Getting TV coverage beyond St. Louis.
What advice do you have for the best way to get started and thrive in radio and in PR? Just do it. Don’t be picky. If you can’t find a good job, take a bad one. If you can’t find a job, volunteer. Be aggressive and proactive. Archive your work. Make friends. Don’t burn bridges. Respect your competitors—you may someday need their help. Start a blog—to share ideas, to sharpen writing and editing skills. Work long and hard.
Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Next new blog post here on January 6.