Interview with a PR Professional

June 11, 2010

In looking ahead to a career in public relations, as well as for the purposes of this interview, I chose to interview someone whom I hope to one day be able to intern with. I chose Broni Gainous of the Bulloch Country Parks and Recreation Deparment. Broni is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator to the recreation department. I know Broni personally because I also work for the recreation deparment.  Due to extenuating circumstances- the interview had to be done via telephone.

What’s a typical week like? The person that tells you that Marketing/PR people have typical weeks is lying to you. But, that’s what I like about the career, it’s never the same. Things change, not only daily, but hourly (sometimes even faster)! With so much of your job depending on media deadlines, you find yourself shifting gears constantly!

What do you wish you would have known before starting your career in PR? I wish I would have know that the career is not always glitz and glamour…be ready to get your hands dirty in this career. You will be the one setting up props for the commercial shoot, building the sets for tv shows, writing all the scripts and editing everything. This is a career where you must know how to do it all!

How important is writing in your career?  In my job specifically, the “press release” is not always that important to write because I can sell it to a reporter who can write it for me. However, writing in general is important because I have to write all the copy for brochures, the scripts for my radio/tv advertisements, etc.

What three tips would you offer someone just starting out in PR? 1. Learn the MACINTOSH computer and dive into DESIGN software. Although the Windows computer is developing nicely in the design world, Mac is still the leader and industry standard. KNOW a page layout program (InDesign), as well as support software (Photoshop, Illustrator).
2. Know how to deal with the public in a manner that is constructive on both sides of the argument. Don’t “fight” with someone…know your facts, state them, support them. Averting bad publicity is just as crucial as attracting good publicity.
3. Learn all you can in every aspect of this career…TV, Radio, Print Media, Social media, WEBSITE,Layout/design software, offset printing. You will need to be proficient in these areas so that you can effectively do your job.

Did your education prepare you for working in PR? How?
Not really. Although I have a PR Degree from GSU, I believe the degree is based on journalism. In today’s PR world, there’s so much more to it than that…communicating with media as well as your staff, managing the corporate image and customer service, planning media campaigns, organizing special events, public presentations, handling crises, and much more. Fortunately, my internship taught me lots…and then my first “real” job taught me so much more! The degree was just the stepping stone…how you choose to learn in this field will determine your success.

How has PR changed since you entered the field?
The basics are the same, but the technology is advancing so rapidly that it takes daily learning to keep up with it all. Where print media used to be the main medium, we find today that social media has much more of an impact.

When your company is hiring for an entry-level PR position, what makes a candidate stand out? When I look at hiring part-time staff or interns, I look for experience. I don’t always mean that “John Doe” interned for Gulfstream in the PR Department. I mean, during the years in college, did this person get involved with PRSSA or other student PR organizations….did this person volunteer his/her time with non-profit agencies to gain experience…did this person attempt “different” classes that are not required such as Desktop Publishing or Graphic Design. This field needs “go-getters” and if I can see on a resume that a person just sailed through college without going that extra mile, I can see that they won’t go that extra mile in my office.

How many hours per week do you usually work? Is it common to take work home? 
On the clock, it’s between 40-50 hours a week. However, I do work from home because I am so busy during the day that in order to meet my deadlines, I have to do some work at home. Mostly what I do at home though is return emails, work on my social media sites and our websites.

What is the best training or education to acquire?
I would recommend anyone getting a BS in PR to also go back to get a Masters in PR or at least an MPA or MBA.

What are the most difficult problems, decisions or challenges you must face?
Communication is the most difficult. Whether it be inter-departmental communication or staff to customer communication, it must always be handled with  care. We must try to communicate all those little details to all involved so that everyone is “up to date” and can always answer questions.

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?
Get my masters degree for one. Learn time management better. Learn more tv/radio skills.

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