Our chapter had the privilege of speaking with Jennifer Pruett, vice president of internal communication at FleishmanHillard, via Skype at our Feb. 11 meeting. FleishmanHillard is one of the oldest public relations agencies. Founded in St. Louis in 1946, their headquarters remains there to this day.
After giving us a brief history of her career path, Pruett discussed some of the major brands that she works with on an everyday basis, including AT&T, Energizer, Boy Scouts of America, Chevrolet, Steak n’ Shake, Buffalo Wild Wings and various pharmaceutical companies. Some of her daily tasks include working in crisis and digital communication.
Pruett next took the time to address agency life myths and facts. It is not as scary as some might think. It is true that you work long hours, but no more than you would in corporate public relations. She explained that to work in agency, you must be prepared to help your clients at any time, and be ready to act at the drop of a hat because clients can be unpredictable. It is a fast-paced work environment, but you are constantly learning about clients, old and new, as well as new channels and methods of reaching your publics. She has also found that public relations is very team-oriented. Being in constant contact with your coworkers means communication is equally as important internally as it is externally.
When asked how she stays organized, Pruett says that she is a “Post-It woman.” She also said that it is not much different than being a student, and you just have to find a method that works for you. For her, lists work best. She advises that you ask plenty of questions and understand deadlines, priorities, and how to manage them.
Writing was the next topic of discussion, which Pruett said is taken seriously and is an important aspect of agency public relations. It is likely that you will write about 80 percent of the time on an average day, even in the beginning of your career.
Finally, Pruett gave us some insight on the internship program at FleishmanHillard’s headquarters. The goal is to give interns a complete experience by allowing them to develop different skill sets by working in different areas. As an intern, you are placed in either a practice group or as a member of the creative team, based on your interests and where they see you fit. Pruett also believes that the key to a successful job search is networking and relationship-building.
Speaking with Jennifer Pruett over Skype was an enlightening experience for our whole Chapter, and we are very appreciative of her time and advice!
By Calysta Will
Illinois State University alumna and former PRSSA Vice President Annie Hughes returned to campus on November 19 to share her insights into sports and corporate public relations with the Chapter.
After graduating from ISU in 2006, Hughes landed her first job at Loyola University Chicago, where she launched its social media pages. Hughes shared with us how proud she is that she was a part of something that became very successful for the university. Loyola University was not her only experience in the public relations field, as she has worked in agency, corporate and non-profit public relations as well.
Hughes is now a public relations-focused marketing consultant in Allstate’s Integrated Marketing and Communications Department. This department consists of approximately 50 people, and Hughes’ duties including working with Allstate’s sports affiliates and the NCAA. One of Allstate’s largest sports-focused programs is the Hometown Hall of Fame, which honors NFL players who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame and brings them back to their hometowns. Hughes is also currently working on the Allstate-sponsored Sugar Bowl, which will kickoff Jan. 2, 2014.
Members were eager to hear advice about succeeding in the public relations field, and Hughes emphasized the importance of three things: networking, experience and social media. She recommended taking advantage of the opportunities offered by PRSSA, as it is a great way to gain relevant experience. She also mentioned that she found her current position through LinkedIn, underscoring the importance of social media sites. (For our tips on using LinkedIn, check out this post!)
Finally, Hughes offered advice about how to stand out in the job interview. She recommended emphasizing your strengths, letting the interviewer know you are eager to learn, making eye contact and asking questions.
Overall, Hughes gave a great deal of information and advice to students during Chapter. Taking advantage of all opportunities, including attending guest speakers at meetings, is a great way to expand your knowledge of the public relations field.
By Analita Voss
Illinois State University’s Public Relations Student Society of America’s Faculty Adviser, Dr. Peter Smudde, gave an informative presentation to our Chapter about tips and tricks for using Associated Press Style and American Physiological Association Style. Dr. Smudde stressed the importance of learning AP and APA style as students in order to prepare for future careers in public relations and communications.
Here are 10 takeaways from his presentation:
1. Bookmark sections you use often (such as states, titles, times). This makes them quicker and easier to find when you’re in a rush.
2. Consider buying a new edition of the AP Style manual every two years, or download the online version on your device in order to get the latest updates.
3. “Write to express, not to impress.”
4. Names of well-known cities (such as Chicago) can stand alone and do not require the name of the state.
5. Good writing should be compelling, insightful, clear, concise and accurate, and it takes a lot of hard work.
6. For APA Style: Memorize the difference between sources and whether that source comes from a book or an article.
7. Spell out numbers one through nine. Use numerals for numbers 10 and greater.
8. The American Physiological Association (APA) Style is the standard for the communication field for academic and scholarly writing.
9. Proper titles should be capitalized when they introduce a name (for example, PRSSA President Hailey Lanier).
10. Practice, practice, practice! The only way to get better at writing in these styles is to practice often and become familiar with your guides.
By Lisa Crocco
PRecisely PR is the blog of the Illinois State University Chapter of the PRSSA. We write about Chapter events, the public relations industry, member profiles, and more.