Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How did you get started in #PR or #communications?

These days, all sorts of people are considering switching gears from other professions to move into public relations, public information and communications--so maybe now's a good time for those of us who are in those fields to share what got us here in the first place.  Where did you start out in PR or communications? Was it your first job ever, or did you shift from another profession? Did someone talk you into it? What got you here? Share your answers in the comments.

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Bruce Trachtenberg said...

Wow...that question took me back a few years. I had the incredible fortune of getting hired as a copyboy for The Oregonian in 1970, the summer before I started college. A year later, I was promoted to a part-time reporting position. I managed both college and my job over the next 3 years. But in 1974 a recession hit and the newspaper laid off its part-time reporting staff. I took the summer off to finish a few missing credits for my degree. After that, I started looking for work again. I decided not to go for another newspaper or media job, and instead tried my hand freelancing for the communications department of a nearby community college. After that, I was hired to work for Portland Public Schools full-time, and from then on have always worked in the pr/communications field. I stayed on the for-profit side until 1992, when I joined a private grantmaking foundation as its first communications director.

Emily Culbertson said...

Like Bruce, I started out in journalism first. In the early 90s, I was a stringer for AP and a bunch of suburban dailies. I covered federal court under the watchful eye of a more senior courthouse correspondent, Shannon Duffy, who is still there today. I took my first communications job, at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, a few years later for more regular hours and HUP's awesome tuition benefits. Almost all of my communications work since then has been related to health care. This week, I have to say thanks to David Morse, just now leaving RWJF after 10 years, Larry Blumenthal, Kathryn Thomas and Phil Hagerty for deciding that, although I didn't have a traditional background for philanthropy, that I might do OK at a foundation.

Jackied said...

I had been working as a writer/editor for trade publications in Atlanta, GA. A move to the wild west of South Florida in the go-go 80s enabled me to find an account exec position at a small PR firm.

The clients were mostly residential real estate developers. It was a wild and crazy atmosphere full of bloated budget excess and Intracoastal yacht press briefings. Sounds glamorous, but pitching "lifestyle" over substance got old in nine months.

The firm's prinicpal took on a local hospital as a a new client, I think he lost some kind of wager, and I volunteered to be the account exec. Pitching stories about new medical procedures and fact-oriented health information was refreshing. The response from the local media craving more medical pitches and leads solidified my career in healthcare PR.
Jackie Fishman, APR