June 24, 2013
This is the first of a three-part series detailing the daily life of a public relations professional, intern and student.
Name: Devin Hughes
Company: Global Prairie
Location: Cleveland, OH
7:30 AM – Wake up, shower, and check Facebook/Twitter/News RSS Feed while eating a granola bar for breakfast. This includes both personal interest stuff (friends’ Facebook posts, sports scores) as well as work stuff (industry news/tweets)
8:30 AM – Arrive at work. Whole bunch of emails to sift through. Better make the first cup of coffee (in our Keurig!)
9:00 AM – A new team member has joined our office! We have a welcome breakfast to meet him and chat.
9:45 AM – Every week, we send a weekly media monitoring report to the client on Friday morning. I haven’t started on it yet. Guess I should get moving on that.
10:00 AM – Better make that second cup of coffee.
10:30 AM – Call with a major national organization about a partnership our client has with them. What can we do to enhance the partnership? How can we promote it?
11:00 AM – Call went well. Now, I have to take everything we discussed and build a formal strategic recommendation for our client to review. Better get started on that while it’s fresh on my mind.
11:30 AM – Or not. Now I have a different call, for the same client, for a totally different project. This time, we’re even working with another agency (that does event planning) to discuss how to coordinate our efforts.
12:00 PM – No time to debrief from that call. Now, we have an all-agency call; all of our regional offices and employees dial in for this one, where we go over agency-wide matters of importance.
12:30 PM – Another meeting on the calendar? This is the 5th one and I haven’t had lunch! Now, we’re brainstorming about how to improve a mobile app for our client. Some awesome new ideas bouncing around — ranging from major changes, to simple functionality tweaks.
1:00 PM – All right, a break! Grabbed a few coworkers and ran to the local market for a salad.
1:30 PM – Let’s dig back in and work on that media repo—oh never mind. Boss needs me to do quick research for a new business opportunity that just came up.
2:00 PM – Finished that up, and just got some feedback on a social media proposal I put together. Sweet! Really excited about this project. Let’s prioritize it. Incorporated those edits and sent back through to the team.
2:30 PM – Grab a Pepsi and work on that report I keep putting off, but not for long because…
3:00 PM – A brainstorm meeting! About Twitter! We’re creating an account for a client and are discussing the look and feel of the account. Graphic design team is on this call, always fun to work with them.
3:30 PM – Another call, this time about work one of our clients does with NASCAR. That’s pretty cool.
4:00 PM – Let’s wrap up that report, already. The document has literally been open on my computer all day.
4:30 PM – Call with a senior strategist at our firm to run through a PPT I put together. He really likes the plan! Sending to the client now
5:00 PM – Oh hello, mountain of emails I haven’t had a chance to reply to. Let’s catch up on those
5:30 PM – A few of us are actually going to a fundraising event for the National Kidney Foundation tonight. Pretty cool to do after-hours stuff with coworkers while also giving back.
8:00 PM – Home! Long day…let’s sit back and watch the Indians game (while tweeting of course)
11:00 PM – Bedtime. Can’t stay up late like I did in my OU days.
What is an example of a curve ball you may face during the day as a PR professional?
You can plan out your day all you want, but PR is driven by the news of the day, so be ready to get disrupted. For example, when I did PR for a grocery chain, anytime the news wanted to spontaneously come film at the store I’d have to drive out and meet them. One phone call from ABC was all it’d take to literally change the entire complexion of my day.
Do you find that you specialize in a certain area of PR or are your responsibilities more general?
Can I say “both?” I got into the agency world because I wanted to wear a lot of different hats and learn about any aspect of PR that I could. That said, I naturally gravitate toward social media and really enjoy doing that type of work, and my company has noticed that, so they’ve begun viewing me as more of a go-to person on social media matters. But, that doesn’t mean I’m not still doing all the other stuff! Best advice I can give is to be open to learning anything and everything, but also become conscious of what you really enjoy doing, and have dialogues with your manager about what those things are.
How many clients do you work with and what is it like transitioning between the different clients throughout the day?
It’s hard to quantify. There aren’t just different clients, but there’s different businesses within clients. So like, maybe your “client” is Toyota but you do some work for the marketing manager of the Toyota Camry; some for the Tundra marketing person; some corporate communications work; some general crisis consulting. It’s one “client,” but they have multiple billing codes and you report to different people.I actually really like transitioning between a bunch of different clients/types of work. Maybe I’m scatterbrained, but it helps keep me feeling fresh and energized. I think I’d go insane doing the same thing every day. The biggest challenge is juggling various client deadlines. I can’t tell one client that her work is less important to me than another client’s work. Luckily, our agency team is extremely supportive and when time crunches like this come up, anyone who can will jump in and help out.
What experiences from your days as a PR student and intern have helped you in your work as a professional?
I’ve said before that in a lot of ways, school is like its own PR agency. Your “clients” are your 5 classes, your 3 student organizations, your PACE job, etc. And you need to manage your time on all of these clients, prioritize assignments and get things done, while still having a social life. The running joke is that Scripps Kids tend to overextend themselves and sign up for everything; however, this actually prepares you really well for the demands of agency PR, if that’s a field you’re interested in.
-Kerry Tuttle is a junior majoring in public relations with specializations in marketing and international business. Keep up with Kerry at @kerrtut.