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
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.