A Conversation with a PR Professional
By Trey Buckingham
A career in Public Relations is an exciting prospect that is just on the horizon for many of us in PRSSA. The faculty at Grady continues to do an excellent job of preparing us for these jobs, acclimating us to the type of work and schedules that are likely to be required in this field. Even so, it can be extremely helpful to hear the experiences of those who are currently working in these dynamic environments. I interviewed Dana Eble, a Communications Specialist working at NewMakers Media, to ask her a few questions about her daily routine and some of the long-term issues that she considers to ensure that she is effectively fulfilling her duties year after year.
You work on a few different projects at your agency; is there any that you would say that you work on more than others?
“So, my time is spent pretty fifty-fifty between 5 Hour Energy and a non-profit called Alzheimer’s Caregivers Network”
Is there one that you prefer to work on more than the other?
“I really like working on Five Hour Energy because it’s young and it’s fun and there’s a lot of giveaways that we do. There’s a lot of interaction with customers, and the tradeshows are crazy. But the Alzheimer’s non-profit is really impactful and I get to talk to caregivers around the country. I feel like it’s work that’s good for the soul.”
How do you balance these different projects?
“Everything is at the same time, all at once. I am a huge checklist person. If I don’t put it on the checklist, the chance that I forget about it is kind of high. I like to segment my outlook email into different folders for the different clients. You have to stay on top of yourself with organization, or else it just falls apart.”
Can you describe what an average day would look like for you?
“I get to work at 9:00 a.m., grab a cup of tea and then check through my email for anything new or pressing. I have Google alerts set up for brand names as well as for Manoj Bhargava, the owner of 5 Hour Energy, so if anything comes in there I’ll just scan and make sure that it’s not anything negative. I then hop on the Meta Business Suite and I’ll look for new comments or messages and just see how my social posts are doing. From there, I’ll check my list of agency clients. If any projects are ongoing, I’ll check for a status report. Then it kind of alternates, some days it’s writing a press release, some days it’s meetings about new products but most days it’s a lot of emails.”
Can you explain your networking strategies and how you maintain relationships with different media contacts?
“At my first job, I was tasked with trying to get different financial advisors third-party endorsements from media outlets such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Forbes. I would keep my media list of reporters and do monthly check-ins with them, sending pitches to some of them based on what I thought they would be interested in. They’re going to say no 90% of the time, but the 10% that they say yes, you get to work together and create some really great content.”
What do you think are some of the most important skills a PR Professional can develop?
“Strong writing skills are always going to get you far, attention to detail and keeping up with trends and the changing softwares and technology. As a student, if you are able to walk into interviews being able to talk about Meta Business Suite, Cision, Meltwater or even Help A Reporter Out, those are strong skills. An ability to pivot and not take things too personally is also important. Your first round of a press release is never going to be the perfect version. Sometimes you might be working on a project for a really long time and one day the client decides they don’t like it and they don’t want to do it anymore. That’s not your fault. You need to be able to move on from things like that.”
Do you have any advice for college seniors who are preparing to launch their careers?
“Interviewing is just practice; it’s a skill that you perfect. You’re not going to nail all of them, but it really is a numbers game. If you can tailor your cover letter and resume and have two or three versions of them, it does pay off. In interviews, be prepared with questions and do your research ahead of time. It’s okay if you don’t have an answer for everything they’re asking you, and it’s okay to say that too. Soft skills, like if the job likes you or if your co-workers are into you, are going to get you really far, so just be ready to work and be ready to learn.”