May 2010 #PRStudChat graduate Lauren Novo

The transition from student to professional can be a bit frightening… and very exciting. Florida State University 2010 Lauren Novo has started a new series on her blog, GEN-Y PROGRESS  to learn more about her peers transition from PR student to professional. With Lauren’s permission, we have been sharing the series on prstudchat.com.  We thought it would be fun to turn the tables on Lauren and see how how her own quest for a career in public relations is progressing.

What are you currently doing? Include your job title/responsibilities/location/etc.

I work at a public relations firm in Tallahassee, Fla., where I am in charge of managing multiple national/international sports business client accounts. My primary duties include creating and implementing traditional and social media plans for clients and generating new business for the firm.

How closely-related is your job (title/location/responsibilities) to your college major and what you planned to be doing after graduation?

I didn’t major in public relations; I actually doubled in media/communication studies and creative writing and thought I might be a columnist or reporter when I first started college. But by junior year, I discovered my love for PR and pointed all efforts toward securing a position at an agency after graduation. I knew I wanted to work with journalists and integrate new media into PR campaigns – so in that respect, my job turned out exactly as I’d planned.

On the flip side, I’m managing client accounts, writing proposals and bringing in new business. I never thought I’d have those incredible responsibilities so early in my career.

What tactics did you take before and/or after graduation to get to where you are today?

Before: I learned everything I could about social media (by participating and learning from industry leaders); networked consistently at professional luncheons and events; committed to blogging; treated my internships like full-time jobs; and since I wasn’t allowed to take the PR writing course (given my major), I sought one-on-one lessons with the professor to ensure my skills would be up to par.

After: I’ve made it very clear to my boss, colleagues and clients that I am fully invested in my job. My work email is synced on my iPhone (by choice) and I do what needs to be done regardless of the time or day. I also took a board position with the FPRA Capital Chapter to stay connected with the local PR community and to get more hands-on experience in event planning.

What tips would you give new graduates who will soon be facing the “real world”?

Learn how to stand out at a career fair. There are more job applicants than job positions available. Make a great impression in-person and then keep the relationship going through social media, etc.

Learn how to pitch. You will likely write many more pitch messages on the job than press releases and media advisories. Plan accordingly.

Get involved in professional development organizations. Don’t just show up to the local PRSA or FPRA event. Join a committee. Volunteer for an event. You’ll meet more people and add additional skill sets to your resume.

Don’t be afraid of creative job-search tactics. The economy won’t always be like this…but while it is, take the opportunity to try new things. If you can be a publicist for a client, you can certainly be a publicist for yourself.

What are your short/long term goals and what do you plan to do to accomplish them?

Short Term: In 2011, I want to grow my client base, pull off a successful Image Award event with FPRA Capital Chapter and become more comfortable with public speaking.

Long Term: I plan to pursue my APR and CPRC as soon as I become eligible. Ultimately, I see myself doing PR internally for an innovative, worldwide corporation or for a theatre in a large city. I’d also like to write a novel and get paid to blog one day.

As long as I stay motivated, continue to network and learn all I can about the business from those more experienced, I think I can attain each of these goals.

Anything else you’d like to contribute to this conversation?

Be proactive. You cannot be successful in PR if you aren’t proactive. This is true when it comes to getting a job, keeping your job and keeping your clients happy.

A lot of times, it comes down to anticipating the needs of others.

  • Trying to land a job? Research the clients the employer serves. What is going on with the clients? Are they blessed with ample media coverage but completely inactive on Twitter? Create a Twitter strategy to present at your interview.
  • Trying to pitch your client to a reporter? Do your research, find the right reporter and approach that reporter in a way that will resonate with him/her.
  • Your client hasn’t asked you for anything in awhile? Come up with a list of creative ideas and ask which they’d like you to tackle first.

Be proactive and your boss, colleagues and clients will value you.

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