Photo Via: LinkedIn
This week I had the opportunity to talk to Emily Elliott who is the Public Relations & Marketing Coordinator at the Boy Scouts, Crossroads of America Council in Indianapolis. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations from Butler University in 2012 where she was President of the Butler Chapter of PRSSA. I became acquainted with Emily a few months ago when my fiance began working in the same office as a District Executive. I called Emily this Friday to get a better understanding of what it is that she does and what advice she may have. Hopefully you’ll enjoy this as much as I did!
What’s a typical week like?
No week is typical! We are currently in our busiest times of the year and everyday can be different. Each week, I spend about half my times in meetings and then the other half actually in my office working on projects. Every Monday I have a meeting with my communications consultant to check in with her on the projects she works on for the council. Wednesday mornings are devoted to my role on the management team. We have a meeting every Wednesday for about 3.5 hours and I devote the rest of the day to those matters. Last week I had a new intern start and spent most of Monday getting her settled. I also met with a group of videographers to discuss a series of videos I need for an event in December. The rest of the week was a lot of fun for me because I was working on media relations for popcorn. I had 3 TV interviews from Thursday to Saturday and spent the rest of the time in the field getting shots of popcorn delivery and pick up for a video for our internal audience.
Tell me about a project you worked on that you are especially proud of.
Next week will mark my year with the Boy Scouts and it’s difficult to pinpoint one project that I am the most proud of over the past 12 months. The things that make me the most proud is when my seeing my work actually being implemented. For example, it was great to see recruitment materials I designed, finally in the hands of potential Scouts and parents. Landing media interviews is always very exciting to me because it can be very difficult. It’s really nice to just see a project be successful.
What do you do to keep current in the PR industry?
Staying current in the PR industry is very important to me because I learn of new trends and resources that can help me in my job. I attend workshops each month for the Public Relations Society of America. On a daily basis, as soon as I get in the office, I will read the news online and read my PRSA daily news email. This keeps me the most current not only for the industry, but also in general. PR is definitely about knowing what is going on, not only in your organization and industry, but around the world. Finally, I try to meet with my mentors who work in the industry and other PR friends every few months for lunch or drinks. This is a great way to exchange ideas.
What do you wish you would have known before starting your career in PR?
I wish I had realized just how quickly things can change. I can come in the office thinking of my to-do list and then a story breaks leaving the rest of my day focused on media. When I was in school, I heard PR professionals talk about how quickly things can change in the 24/7 news cycle, but didn’t realize to what extent. There have been weeks that I have accomplished nothing because I’ve spent all my time answering media requests and being in strategy meetings during time of crisis.
How important is writing in your career?
Writing is absolutely number 1 in my career. It is the foundation of everything I do and the most consistent task. Just this week, I’ve written a letter for our Scout Executive, a presentation document, and copy for two newsletters. From writing a pitch to a newsletter article, I have to be able to write efficiently and effectively.
What three tips would you offer someone just starting out in PR?
Put on a smile. An organization’s PR professional interacts with a lot of people internally and externally. A lot of times I just don’t have the energy to talk to another volunteer or media member during a breaking story, but I put on a smile and listen because I know it is important to that person or the organization. Learn to write. Writing will never go away. Learn to write well and it will make your job so much easier. Your job will never be done, but put the phone down. PR is one of those jobs that you can’t just clock out at 5:00. For me, I have to be available 24/7 to the media and my coworkers if an emergency arises. However, I have had to learn to put my phone down when I am away from the office. Know when something can wait and when something needs to be responded to immediately. I’ve not replied to media who have contacted me late at night knowing it could wait until morning. You have to draw boundaries or work will consume you.
What has surprised you the most about working in PR?
Probably one of the biggest things I didn’t think about while I was in school was the gap between public relations and older professionals. People have a lot of different definitions about PR and most of them are only half true. I spend a lot of time educating people on my job and its capabilities. An in-house PR professional is still somewhat of a new concept for many organizations.