This Is How I Started My Career in PR
June 23, 2016
Have you ever played the game "Pass the Message" where the first person whispers a sentence to the next, and that person whispers it to the next person, and so on? The point of the game is to see just how far off from the original the sentence becomes when it reaches the end. No matter how many people in the chain are, the messageis always different at the end. In the real world, there are people who make a living trying to make sure that we get the story straight. It's called public relations, or PR. Working in PR is probably one of the most fast-paced, exciting, and challenging industries to be in. They say to get into PR, you need to write and speak well. While that is true, there's more to the surface that just attending events and glamorous product launches. Fresh out of college about less than two years ago, Katrin Arcala, PR Account Executive at Perceptions, Inc. on weekdays, and mountaineer on the weekends, shares how she got her first job working in PR, and what it really feels like to be working in this kaleidoscopic industry.
How long have you been working in PR?
About one year and four months.
What experiences did you have with PR before you decided to pursue a career in PR?
Oddly enough, I haven't had a real PR experience prior. I have always been into media and journalism work, having been a writer and later on an editor for our university publication. This also led me to being a student patroller for a news channel and an all around host/producer for a magazine show for years. When schedule permits, I take hosting gigs on the side. My other affiliations afforded me the opportunity to organize school events and NGO activities. Some here, some there — the bits and pieces later on made up the foundation I needed to enter the PR industry.
How did you know a career in PR was for you?
People around me has long since predicted that I will be joining the PR industry later on. While my years of experience lean towards media work, I have always enjoyed being able to do many things altogether. I find fulfillment in exploring various tasks – from writing articles, pitching ideas and to creating a whole campaign. I felt that PR has a lot in store for me. And that I had much to give to the industry too.
When someone says, “I work in PR,” what do they mean by that? What do PR agencies do for their clients?Working in the Public Relations industry means working as a messenger of truth between the client and the public. PR professionals make sure that the public is aware of the brand and what it does, and turn that public awareness to the public's support for the brand. In retrospect, "I work in PR" equals to setting the public's perception of the brand through traditional media. But now, "I work in PR" has evolved from print/tv/radio to the presence of digital sites/blogs and social media influencers. For in truth, what better way to reach the public than to send messages through the channels they tune into day and night? PR agencies, or the PR arm of a company for that matter, creates the campaign by which key messages of the company are in tact. This is coupled by tactics such as events, press briefings, interview arrangements, etc. to set the messaging in stone with the goal of reaching the relevant market through media publicity and social media presence. So from counseling, campaign theories, to message setting and onwards to execution — a PR agency can do it all.
In your opinion, what’s the best part about working in PR? What’s the biggest takeaway you got from working here?PR professionals breathe proper communication. While we position brands to the media and the market, we also position ourselves to the client. With this, my biggest takeaway would be saying and doing what needs to be said and done. We go down to the nitty gritty of sentence construction and word choice to the office clothes and overall look in a boardroom. Every word you utter and every act you make will reflect you and your intentions. So you must be deliberate in what you do – everything you do.
What types of experiences and coursework should someone who wants to pursue a career in PR do in college? What did you do?It is funny how people say that being an outspoken, 'people' person is top priority. While it is true that the PR industry is an arena for the louder voices and the go-getters, one skill that can really help you in the industry is being a good writer. Writing is such a fundamental skill in the PR industry, and needless to say, reading a wide array of topics to improve writing is imperative too. Explore these areas if you feel that PR is for you.
What does it take to thrive in the industry?
I'd like to borrow the words of our company's founder, one of the best PR practitioners in the country, Rene Nieva: "The formula for success is simple — verbal and written communication skills, passion for excellence, creativity, coolness under pressure, persistence and resilience — the ability to bounce back and learn from one's failures and do better next time and better and better thereafter." I try my best to live by these words in each day that I service my clients and the media as well.
What's your advice to those who want pursue a career in PR?
In anything and everything you do, always put your heart to it. While your talents and abilities will matter big time, the effort that you put in every day's work will win you that proposal, will get you that coverage or will land you that project. Always have that passion and direct it towards excellence across everything you do — may that be a simple email or a big pitch. Keep the passion and excellence coming! It will take you to places, may it be in the PR industry or life in general.