My Interview With a PR Professional

As a major assignment for my Intro to Public Relations course, I had to interview a PR Professional. I first attempted to interview Patrick Afeku, a GA Southern Graduate who had a job offer from a major PR firm before he even took his last exam, but I found out that he ventured away from the PR field.  Instead, he connected me with Britney Peyton, another GA southern graduate who works for A. Brown-Olmstead Associates in Atlanta, GA.

Britney Peyton

Britney Peyton

 1. What’s a typical week like? (If no week is typical, then what was last week like?)

  • A typical week usually begins with my colleagues and I catching up on weekend news, emails, social media sites, phone calls, etc.  I will then look at my calendar for the week, review the items I have on my plate and get to work.  This usually means I’m touching base with clients, searching for media queries and coverage, as well as creating new material to circulate to a number of media outlets.  I’m usually focusing on two releases and an op-ed piece in a week.  No week is the same as the last however. 
     
    Typically, I do perform some of the same tasks such as searching for and pitching to industry publications for clients, attend several meetings, coalesce with my president and CEO about new business prospects.   This means I am writing proposals and corresponding with prospective clients daily. I also attend and/or plan at least two events a week where I coordinate with media and photographers, handle logistics, and prepare event materials.
     
    A large amount of my time throughout the week is spent online.  Whether I am tweeting, facebooking, reading blogs, feeds, and hard news sites, I am constantly updating myself on fresh content to see where the agency and clients fit in.  I also spend a good amount of time coordinating speaking opportunities for clients. 

2. Can you tell me about a project you worked on that you are especially proud of?

  • In August 2008, my firm planned an luncheon event with the Democratic Women of Georgia in Denver for the Democratic National Convention, “Celebrating Democratic Women”.  Planning an event, especially out of the state is challenging, but it was a great experience.  I handled outreach to elected officials and dignitaries, sponsorships, media, and several other logistics.  The event was very well received and covered.  Speakers and honorees included Rosalynn Carter, Mayor Shirley Franklin, Jane Kidd, Dorothy Height, Bernice King, Leticia Van de Putte, Xernona Clayton, Evelyn Lowery, and so many other influential men and women.

(NOTE: The Picture above is from this event)

3. How important is writing in your career?

  • Very important.  I would say I am communicating through writing for the majority of each day.  Whether it be something as simple as preparing meeting summaries or email blasts, I am writing material throughout the entire day.  Writing is an integral part of public relations.  It is important to come across as a professional who not only creates favorable material on behalf of clients, but one that is thorough in few words, grammatically correct and tactful.  It sounds silly, but grammar and sentence construction are very important.  To sum it up, everything is pretty much written, emails, letters, online content, reports, releases, etc., everything.

4. What three tips would you offer someone just starting out in PR?

  • Strong writing and communication skills are a must.
  • Know what your interests are what kinds of clients you would like to take on.  You have to have a plan when it comes to planning for client activity.
  • Be prepared to network and constantly make contacts.  Relationships are very important.
  • And a fourth, become a news junkie.  You will have to be in the know, always.

5. What do you do to keep current in the PR industry?

  • Keep up with trends in media and technology.  Now that so many media outlets such as newspapers are folding, its important to know what is going on to best figure out how you can best position clients and campaigns as well as where you can nurture new and existing relationships.  I do a lot of reading and keep myself abreast with the latest trends through sites such as PRSA, Profnet and mostly any hard news sites.

6. Did your education prepare you for working in PR? How? 

  • It did in terms of planning and being an efficient communicator and writer, yes.  However, I do think that many agencies and larger firms have their own method of performing public relations activities.  Classroom experience is a must, but several internships, PRSSA, workshops, volunteering, and work experience overall has prepared me most for public relations.

7. What do you wish you would have known before starting your career in PR?

  • I wish I had known that I probably should have been interning, volunteering and fostering relationships from the time I graduated high school.  Probably before then.  Public relations is such a competitive field today.  Executives and people in general want to know that you are a opinion leader, someone who is well learned, well versed, efficient, and is constantly producing.

8. When your company is hiring for an entry-level PR position, what makes a candidate stand out?

  • Experience in an agency or firm setting, or even a public relations degree will not always get you the job.  Someone who has a strong portfolio and work ethic is a stand out candidate.  Existing contacts is also a plus.

 

Ms. Peyton and I had a very effective interview, which really opened my eyes to the PR World.  I definitely would like to thank her for her insight, as well as my teacher for having us do this. Who says school doesn’t help ?!?

Until next time…

~ IceTrey

~ Selfish Entertainment, LLC.

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