Interview with a PR Professional

For my interview with a PR Professional, I contacted Jeremy Pepper, a PR Generalist, via Twitter for an interview.  I fortunately received the privledge of asking Mr. Pepper some questions about his work in Public Relations.   


MS: What is a typical week like?  (If no week is typical, what
was last week like?)

JP: Each day is pretty similar, but it really changes week to week.
Morning starts where I scan the news – national, local and trade
press. I then scan for coverage of Boingo (I’m the internal PR manager
at the firm).

From there, I look over the list of things to do and start the work.
That can range from media outreach, to PR planning and strategy, to
writing press releases. I write two a month, and the internal and
external process tends to get sticky.

There’s also the typical weekly marketing and PR firm meetings, as
well as one-on-ones with the boss.

MS: What is a specific project you worked on that you are
especially proud of?

JP: It depends on what project.

Early in my career, I was most proud of working on the breast cancer
stamp project, helping it become a reality – the stamp has raised tens
of millions of dollars for breast cancer research; I continued working
with the surgeon, trying to get license plates in various states to
support breast cancer treatments – to help underinsured or uninsured
women get mammograms.

I am also proud of the work I did at Ofoto – took the company from
launch to acquisition. During that process, I worked with a reporter
from the Wall Street Journal on online photography, and from my work
with her, we dominated the article.

While working with Kodak, one of my proudest moments was working
closely with a reporter and being the main focus on a digital
photography and camera story for Communication Arts 40th Annual
Photography edition, a key publication for the professional

At my last job, I was proud of the work in social media that I did
with large Fortune 100’s, including Cisco, Verizon and Clorox and
integrating social media into the traditional campaigns.

MS: How important is writing in your career?

JP: Very important – whether it’s a press release, or a pitch letter, the
newsletter for customers that I write articles about – it’s the key
component of public relations.

Most of outreach is now done via email, and if you cannot write a
concise, smart and targeted pitch – you’re done.

MS: What three tips would you offer someone starting off in Public

JP: * Don’t be afraid of picking up the phone – it’s a key part of the
public relations practice, and the best way to build relationships
* Remember that the client comes first – too often in PR now,
practitioners are pushing themselves first, before the client. Clients
pay the salary, remember to do the work for them
* Hone your writing. Practice your writing. Learn AP style. The most
important thing in PR – besides relationships – is writing ability.

MS: What do you do to keep current in the PR industry?

JP: I read the trades – PR Week, O’Dwyers, Bulldog Reporter. I attend
conferences – BlogHer, BlogWorld Expo, Third Thursday in SF, etc. I
talk to other practitioners that I respect, and share ideas on private
back channels. I read various blogs on the industry.

But, at the end of the day, I’m a geek that likes new technology – and
I’m an early adopter:

MS: What has surprised you most about working in PR?

JP: When I left agency life, went in house and then had my own agency – I
eventually made it back to large agency. What’s surprised me is how
much PR had changed. People were not picking up the phone anymore, but
only using email. People were not networking as much, but only doing
what needed to be done. And, many agencies are afraid to give honest
counsel to clients, but instead just go along with everything the
client wants.

MS: What do you wish you would have known before you started working in PR?

JP: I went into PR totally blind. My background is philosophy, and I wrote
at the college newspaper and worked in student government.

The one thing I wish I knew was how stressful the industry can be.
(WSJ noted it as a top 10 stressful profession back in the mid-90’s).

MS: When your company is hiring for an entry level PR position,
what makes a candidate stand out?

JP: I’m in-house, and likely the team won’t grown beyond me. However, when
I interviewed at the agency, I looked for well balanced students. I
want traditional and social media understanding, someone that reads
the press and understands how to put together a story.

After interviewing Jeremy Pepper, I would say that I am even more interested in PR than before.  I especially enjoyed the projects he shared with me and can only hope to be involved in something so rewarding, such as raising money for breast cancer research.  Once I graduate next May, I am more than thrilled to start interviewing for jobs in PR.  There are so many different opportunities, and I can not wait to be a part of it!

Published in: on April 8, 2009 at 2:07 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Meghan–This is a good job! I like how you located your PR Professional utilizing Twitter. The interview is thorough and interesting!

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