Updated: Oct 3, 2019
By Alexandra Gutierrez and Hadie Tobar
During our meeting on September 18th, a panel of CSUN alumni came to discuss their careers in PR to the CSUN PRSSA club. They offered a variety of tips to students who are interested in later working in PR. The people who came to speak to us were Leena Ali, Javier Adon, Bridget Fornaro, Christian Endicio, Jasmine Amabile, and Jennifer Kelleher. One thing that they kept emphasizing was to know how to pitch effectively. Nowadays pitching can take place via email, text, or in person. Pitching is a method to inform others of a certain product or person that is relevant to somebody else. Some tips on how to pitch would be to have a catchy subject name in an email, follow up after a couple of days, and to make it personal.
This panel was very helpful because it showcased the many types of jobs you can have in PR. From account coordinators to publicists to representatives of many or one company, there are endless opportunities that can be found within this field. The guest speakers emphasized us to be passionate, motivated,and to work hard at getting as much experience as we can.
It was a very rewarding experience to have so many people in the business come to speak with us because it gave us a shot at making connections and network with them. They insisted on us taking advantage of being students because more help and resources are provided.
Whether working with clients, checking schedules or contacting an editor, they said to do your best to keep talking to a lot of media outlets and to make sure everything for a client or brand is released on time. When it comes to managing a social media account, the panel said posting is like pitching. They said social media is public relations but with the audience, instead with the press. Christian Endicio, a Junior Publicist at Jay D. Schwartz PR firm, said everyday he is pitching. He explained that work is not a clock-in and clock-out type, it’s when you’re done.
One of the things they highly recommended was to see who the writers are in print and online publications so we are ready when we contact them. By seeing their interests through their stories, we get comfortable in being personable while pitching an idea to the press. “Everyday is different. No two days are the same,” Bridget Fornaro said of working as an assistant publicist at Carol Marshall Public Relations. It’s not about just knowing the brand you’re representing, but about building relationships between the client, their audience and especially with the media companies.
Jasmine Amabile works as a Communications Associate for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. She told us that some days there will be things that are out of your control and it’s important to know what to respond with and how to react in those circumstances. To get some experience while learning to build client relationships, they suggested in starting with freelancing. It’s good to reach out to micro-influencers and work with their own personal accounts. Many influencers don’t know about analytics and how to effectively publicize their own brand. Also, we can undertake side jobs such as getting paid to write a certain amount of words for blogs or developing interesting posts so your work is published and seen by more people. Instagram is one of many useful tools to practice your skills.
Sometimes, it helps to team up with others to exchange services. Be active and network in order to make friends with people in different roles. Stylists, designers, editors and even classmates can help you make those important connections in life. Ask yourself, ‘Do you want to do this? What are you passionate about?’ If you’re not sure, research and find out what you want to do.
Working in public relations, Jennifer Kelleher, a Senior Account Manager for Rogers and Cowan PR Agency, writes press releases, pitches to newspapers, coordinates with artists, and keeps clients relevant while drinking a lot of coffee throughout the day. They encouraged us to not be afraid to reach out to professionals and ask about their field. It’s about putting yourself in line with your professional career.
How you feel as an individual is just as important as being comfortable working with specific companies. Previous PRSSA President Javier Adon is currently working at Moxie as an account coordinator. He said to always be transparent with your supervisors. Be honest when needing to meet certain deadlines and you are facing things that are making it difficult for you to get work done in time. If you need a day off, say it. In this business, they all said it’s important to make it a habit to have a mental health day or you will burn out. Go to the gym or do something you like to do. Leena Ali, an Account Coordinator for Weissman/Markovitz Communications, said it’s a balance but also it’s a lot of fun. Very encouraging, they said that we can and we will figure it out.