Career Story: Public Relations Executive For A Paper Products Company

Public Relations Executive For A Paper Products Company

Job Title: VP, Communications

Type of Company: My company manufactures paper-based personal hygiene products.

Education: BS, Syracuse University •• MS, Northwestern University

Previous Experience: I have been an advertising agency account executive, marketing manager at a local company and head of PR and communications for regional business.

Job Tasks: I lead the communications planning and execution for my company's businesses in North and South America. This work includes significant internal communications, aimed at employees, as well as external communication with the media, community, and government.

I am part of the senior management team, so I'm involved in all key business decisions for the company and I sit in on many meetings and read a lot of reports.

My job is to take the information from these meetings, as well as the business objectives for the company, and communicate them to employees so that they understand how they can make the company successful. To do this I use many channels including email, town hall meetings, the corporate intranet, large TV screens in our locations, videos and webcasts. It's important to reach employees in many different ways so that they see and accept the messages.

I am also responsible for building a positive brand image for my business. This means working to get stories about the company published and aired in key media markets and on the right media channels. I work with a public relations firm and with reporters to make this happen. We sponsor events and other things in the community to support not-for-profit organizations and to make our employees proud of their company. This is valuable, since retaining good employees is critical to a business. Because my company is global, it is also part of my job to work with colleagues in distant locales. We collaborate on communications projects that our employees around the globe need to take part in.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part is that my job has a lot of variety. I rarely have the same day twice. I am exposed to interesting information and work with decision-makers. I have enough authority to get things done.

The worst part of my job is the commute! I live in upstate New York but have to come to Philadelphia to work each week. This is because I was promoted and my job was relocated. I do not want to move so instead I travel a great deal. The other challenge is working to achieve consensus with my management team. Each person on the team has his own opinion and striving to get buy-in across the team (particularly since we don't meet very often) can be a real challenge.

Job Tips:
1. Focus on your writing skills. This is the one thing people value about my talents more than anything else. Few people today can write well, and it is an important skill set for a communicator.

2. Learn about business. While PR and advertising are a lot of fun and creative, companies truly value business acumen. Learn how to read financial reports and how products are made and the supply chain processes to be really successful.

3. Be willing to earn less at first to gain more in the end. Communicator roles in business are very sensitive and relationships are key. Be willing to take less money up front and then build trusting relationships. Once you do this, your value -- and salary -- will soar.

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