Wednesday, October 23, 2019
By Hadie Tobar
With twenty-five years of working in public relations, Daniel Weidman has experience in multiple areas such as consumer products, education, public affairs, entertainment, automotive, and banking. He graduated with a major in Journalism from CSUN in 1994. He is currently the Managing Director, Head of Corporate Communications and Chief of Staff at Union Bank. Daniel spoke in our PRSSA meeting and told us that everyone you meet is a connection to a potential job who can also lead us to other career opportunities. Through an internship in a small public agency, he learned the importance of networking and because he worked in consumers products, his job served as a springboard towards his career for in-house corporate companies.
He explained to us how communication departments serve both employees and clients. For internal communications, you must understand company employees, recognize the need for a group of people to be the voice of the company, and know how to transmit culture strategically. With enterprise communications, there are over one hundred thousand employees to reach out with company information. He said that being in corporate communications taught him to ask questions, to listen to what is not being asked or said, and to formulate and process company messages fast.
With banking, Daniel was hired as a project manager because of his ability to write, organize, and communicate a convincing viewpoint. Initially, he had no banking experience. He shared with us that his first instinct is to write things down, write a memo, a blog, or an op-ed piece in order to get his thoughts down. He is a writer first and advised us all to go write for complex and hard-to-understand things. We have to take out all the jargon and make it simple.
“Get the basic information and do the best you can with what you have,” Daniel said.
Daniel mentioned that starting at an agency might be a better way to go for young adults because some have business models that fit best after graduation. Smaller agencies offer great experience in all areas of PR, unless you work in a specific field such as automotive. When you become a corporate professional, the compensation is great and you can narrow your focus more.
Through working in PR, he has traveled to many places and met new friends. He said networking is what we hold on to after being at different companies. Make it a point to meet people and build relationships. Be authentic, genuine, and thoughtful. He said to learn to network early while in school and gather people in our lives. Start with professors. They are valuable. We should surround ourselves with people we know, like and trust. He said sending handwritten thank you notes after any interview goes a long way. We must stay in contact with our professional friends and be appreciative of their support. The more we build relationships, the more they can be our referrals and sources.
He shared with our group some suggestions about communication.
- Find your voice - have the ability to be creative and unlock ideas
- Be open to any questions
- Gather skills, network, and pitch your ideas
- Be proactive in media -try to get attention through multiple platforms
- Collaborate with journalists - work with reporters and help them get what they need to get their job done
- Start with a little to write, stitch it together with more details and make it impactful because that is your skill as a journalist
- Have a good attitude - enthusiasm and personality makes a difference
Since anyone can apply to entry-level jobs, Daniel reminded us to be charming and interesting. It is not only important to do our homework on a business but to also be intellectually connected during an interview. Have a favorite article or author in mind, or a special childhood experience. He highly recommended a book by Andrew Ross Sorkin, “Too Big Too Fail.” Another way to find interesting topics to talk about is to volunteer. Do something locally to help others and have more to offer about yourself. He said employers want someone who can have a conversation with clients even if they don’t have any big experiences to share yet. Be able to talk about anything interesting.
A very important career advice Daniel gave us is to diversify ourselves. When he was working in the cosmetics and automotive fields, he learned to understand his clients and their products. He said to challenge ourselves in other areas and try to break out of our comfort zones. When we encounter obstacles during our future projects, we must learn more about the product and get a different perspective to help us find creativity. It is about being aware of other things happening in the world. Having a passion to connect people with different views, will help us develop great communication skills. He said, “You never know where a fun, creative idea will come from. Everybody’s got a story to tell.”