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October 6th, 2008

Changing Lanes and Finding the Path to PR Righteousness

Bev working the dual monitors

They say you switch careers at least five times in a lifetime. Is it terrible to say I’ve done it three times in three years? After uprooting from the East Coast, I found myself not only adjusting to new faces and places but regional cultures, idioms, and career choices.

Stripped of the glossy advertising, PR, and event planning work present in New York City, jobs revolving around high-tech, healthcare, and startups became my options after college. So I stepped into the world of life sciences advertising in San Francisco. Then I looked south to “Silicone Valley” where TV and film production consumed my life. When the Writer’s Strike was nearing, I packed my bags to travel through Southeast Asia. Now I’m absorbed in tech PR and social media within the Voce walls. You might question, how the heck did you go from those jobs to your current state? Don’t fret, here’s how my eclectic past helped me reach the right career path and a thrilling place to play (I mean work):

Live to write – Messaging is the life-blood of PR. With that come the necessary written materials to support any client’s business from press releases, backgrounders, briefings books to pitch letters. Write short stories, blog, and share your writing prowess – whether it’s a Yelp review or Web content for a local business. Voce asked if I had a blog. I said yes and linked them to one I maintained during my travels.

Get geeky with it – I can say I’ve attended NAB as a student without being embarrassed. I remember late nights editing video and troubleshooting hardware, or coding websites to pay for my college frivolities. I kept and archived all that work in an online portfolio including web design screenshots, video clips, and a sample press release. At Voce, I apply my past “nerdiness” to our social media programs – like image editing or WordPress maintenance – or to our traditional PR campaigns – conducting research on exhibiting and speaking opportunities at industry shows and conferences.

Be obsessive, be be obsessive! – Stay abreast of current events. It’s okay to have an unhealthy daily dose of pop culture (I know I do). In LA, a prolific TV producer depended on me to scan and summarize Variety and Television Week top stories so he can effectively communicate with network executives he’s meeting that day. To stay afloat in the PR world, you must understand the stories that will get public attention. It takes a combination of creativity and analysis to get a story heard or read about. Clients expect you to monitor chatter about their competitors and consult them moving forward. So go ahead and read that tabletop copy of BusinessWeek.

Sweat the small stuff – My fellow Vocians insist on and execute client-ready deliverables. That means doing consistently good work – from content, tone, down to the formatting. Discipline for clean and aesthetically-looking work started in my advertising job and it continues at Voce. Mind your P’s and Q’s… your font size and tabbing space.

You don’t know jack – Understand the role of PR. Client requirements from a PR professional are different from those of advertisers, marketers, event planners, promoters, and creatives. Many agencies have symbiotic relationships among these people to better serve their clientele. Talk to PR practitioners and journalists, schedule an agency visit, and be present at networking events to be a kick-ass PR pro and eventually be a great source for the media.

It took three years to recognize public relations as the best fit for me. Do what it takes to keep you satisfied, challenged, and passionate. If, by Sunday night, you’re not wishing it were Friday already then you’ve made a good decision.

About the Author
Beverly Nevalga brings her tech and creative background to the Voce Connect team in her role as Client Executive. Author of many of the How-To and more technically-focused posts on the Voce Communications Blog you can follower her on Twitter @digbevmo.

Filed in Career Development, Public Relations, Social Media

Add Your Comment1 Response to “Changing Lanes and Finding the Path to PR Righteousness”

Justin Kistner on October 7th, 2008 at 3:34 pm

Wow, Bev, me too! I went to school for advertising, then went into web design, then online marketing, and now social media PR. I also feel like I’ve finally found my place.

I didn’t like advertising because I felt like no one cared about results. It was all about media buying and winning creative awards (regardless if the funny ad helped sales).

Web design was painful to help people with because most clients were commissioning websites to avoid paying for promotion. That lead me into SEO. The more I learned about SEO, the more I paid attention to RSS feeds and trends, which lead to blogging.

I really dove into social media in 2004. And it wasn’t until I met Voce that I even thought about my work as PR. PR is my people. Especially Voce.