Saturday, January 16, 2010

Meet PR Working Girl

Hey, everyone! I’m PR Working Girl.

My first love was actually Advertising. On a whim, and more truthfully, out of desperation, I enrolled in an Intro to Advertising course when I was a sophomore in college because my broadcast journalism dreams were kind of headed on a path to nowhere. At the time, I was DJ-ing once a week for the campus radio station in hopes of someday getting good enough to be on TV, when a listener called the request line and told me to please stop talking because my high-pitched “on air” voice (hey, I was nervous!) sounded like I was speaking to 5 year- olds and/or baby animals. Yeah.

So anyway, looking back, taking that Intro to Advertising course was probably the smartest thing I ever did in college. I thrived in that class, everything to me was amazing and interesting, from cost of billboards to logo designs. I was on a high. As a junior, I got my very first internship at an advertising agency in LA working with twowell known brands (think cat food and instant rice) where my duties included taking notes behind a two-way mirrorduring focus groups, building giant display boards for client brainstorms and doing tons of competitive research. This was my first taste of “the real world,” and I felt totally star-struck—don’t know how else to put it—for the whole three months.

Toward the end of my junior year, I noticed a lot of my other Communication major friends trying out public relations. They said it was similar to advertising, but different. I thought, what the heck, I might as well try it out.So my second internship was with this little boutique entertainment PR agency run by a stay-at-home-mom, from out of her spare bedroom! She was incredible! Her clients included these super snazzy LA producers, screenwritersand composers. A lot of these guys did work for TV ads, so it was like I still had a foot in advertising while I learnedall about PR “straight from the horse’s mouth. But the best thing I learned about PR was all the writing involved,which I loved.

My final semester of college, I was feeling pretty torn. What direction should I go? Advertising (get to be creative)or PR (get to write)? Both sounded so promising. I lucked out with my third internship which was working at an ad agency on their internal PR team—score! As I’m writing this, I’m realizing how incredibly lucky I was to find such great work experience before I even graduated. Now-a-days, even though it wasn’t really that long ago, I’m class of 2005, I understand the economy is in a MUCH different place. My hat goes off to those of you job or internship hunting right now, I admire your determination and strength to endure the increased competitiveness out there.Don’t give up.

After college, I continued to work in agency settings over the next three years. The first year was at the same agency of my final internship (they hired me upon graduation) and then at a PR agency in Chicago for two years (LOVE CHICAGO). I’m now in Orange County, Calif. where I’ve gone back to working on an internal PR team, but this time not at an agency, but in a corporate setting for a cell phone company. I’ve been here for about a year and a half now. So not only am I a writing nerd and a horrible radio DJ, I guess this also makes me a techhie. Is there anything worse?? Haha.

Some of you may wonder, what is PR anyway? Basically, my job is to build and maintain the reputation and public perception of our company. We work hand in hand with the Marketing folks to ensure the message they’re sending out to consumers is actually true. So if a company’s ads portray them as innovative, our job would be to spread the word about the kinds of innovative things the company is doing. To do that, I build relationships with influential reporters and bloggers and work with them on stories and feed them information about what’s going on with our company, how we’re impacting the industry, when we have new products, etc. in hopes that they write glowing articles about us. This is the “media relations” part. I also do a lot of crisis communications, which is when we prepare for disasters like when a competitor lowers their prices to match ours, when news is accidently leaked, orwhen people are offended by our ads. Our job is to handle the situation so it doesn’t spin out of control and cause any loss of confidence in the company. I also work to educate and build relationships with analysts who are “experts” and who often offer third-party perspective to the media, so they’re always wanting to know what’s going on within the industry. In a nutshell, anytime you see, hear or read anything positive about a company in the newspapers, online, on a blog, on the morning/evening news, etc. it’s very, very likely that a PR person helped put it there.

Ok, so ENOUGH about me. I want to hear about you. Any other PR working girls out there? Let’s hear it! And feel free to drop me a line! I can be reached at


bittersweetm said...

I love your post! I was nodding while reading it the whole time. I completely understand what you went through to get to where you are today, and looking back, I agree that life takes a funny path to get you the things that are best for you. I studied marketing in college, and discovered I love integrated marketing communications through a class I took my senior year. In grad school, I studied public relations thinking it was what I wanted (I like interacting with people, especially clients), but in my last semester, I took IMC again because the professor was hailed as the best in the program, making me realize how much I loved and missed marketing. This economy made the job search hard, but I lucked out and got a job with that same IMC professor from grad school in his marketing company!!

I look forward to hearing more of your stories, no matter how random they are, and whether they are job related or not. Oh, and I love your writing style! It's very energetic!

tris1978ton said...

What a great story! I'm not in PR nor advertising but am very interested in both fields. You sound like you do amazing work! Would love to hear more of your stories!

Tabitha said...

Im currently working as an Ad and Pr specialist for a clothing brand and Im absolutely enjoying it! I work with the stylists and editors of magazines and the experience is just amazing. Although, Im still thinking if i should pursue PR or really focus into Marketing. I took up Marketing Management back in college and I enjoyed it as well!

I worked as a Radio DJ too! How awesome :)

Anonymous said...

I'm not exactly a PR working girl though I do hold a (Class of '05 woot!) degree in Communication Studies with a concentration in Advertising and P.R. I have bounced around and struggled A LOT since graduation to figure out what I want to do. This year, I took the leap and started my own writing services business.

Loved your post.

Alissa said...

I have a PR degree and living in a cornfield state I kind of though it was pointless to have. So fresh out of college I ended up working at a corporate retailer (crafts!) and doing merchandising. Now I've moved on to through three jobs and have landed myself on PR for a large hospital system. I've always been curious that maybe I could've been more successful living in NYC or Cali...but I guess cornfields need PR too!

souljane said...

Fellow PR girl here.

Love the blog.

Can't wait to integrate this into my everyday jive.

Cheers :)

Nishant said...

whether they are job related or not. Oh, and I love your writing style! It's very energetic!

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prashant said...

IMC professor from grad school in his marketing company!!

Work from home