Job Title: Director Of Marketing Communications
Education: MA in Public Relations, Northern Illinois University.
BS in Public Relations, Kent State University
Previous Experience: I began as a newspaper reporter at a major metropolitan daily, progressed to a columnist and editor before moving from Cleveland to Chicago to take a job as a director of public relations for an international conservation organization. After five years, I took a job at a worldwide public relations firm. I was then recruited by a client, a large insurance company, where I worked as a communication consultant, eventually progressing to senior director of marketing communications. I currently own a public relations firm.
Job Tasks: For my entire public relations/communications career, my work has involved meeting with senior level executives to identify the communications challenge at hand and, further, to identify marketing initiatives that need to be assimilated into the communications function so that the brand speaks with one voice and, further, that the brand is constantly enhanced by ongoing, clear, consistent and constant communication. The work is exciting, always changing and always, always challenging.
I have also written innumerable speeches for senior level executives. The value of speech writing, in addition to having access to the minds of the company's leadership, is that it helps me understand the direction of the company and then find ways to articulate it to a variety of audiences, Measurement of the effectiveness of this work is critical. Lastly, the ultimate goal of my work is to engender "discretionary effort," from employees.
Each day begins with a reading of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Not the entire publications, but at least the front pages and their continuation inside. For the New York Times, it is also important to read the entire business section. Also, it is critical to read the local newspapers where the company does business. This doesn't mean sitting down for hours on end, but, rather, using whatever time between meetings, over coffee or any other free moments to peruse and understand issues that might affect the company.
It is important to manage your inbox,. I suggest looking at and responding to e-mails twice a day. First thing in the morning and last thing before going home. I recognize this might not always be possible, and, so be it. But if you don't manage you electronic communication, it will manage you and the result will be a day that is not terribly productive in terms of meaningful production.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best and worst parts of the job are two sides of the same coin. Situations are always changing and require constant monitoring. Course corrections are de rigeur and one must be "fast, fluid and flexible." Days are never boring. Some days never seem to end.
1. Learn to write clearly and concisely. It is only through the writing process (from thinking things out to putting thoughts on paper that one can be an effective).
2. Take graduate school courses in public relations, public policy and basic business.
3. Network. Network. Network. Attend seminars and lunches sponsored by public relations organizations.
Additional Thoughts: Be an habitual reader. Learn and constantly replenish your knowledge about the industry/companies which you are considering. Make a list of companies where you would like to work and then work at learning about those companies and staying on top of their needs. Also, it is important to network with others in the profession, to wit: Public Relations Society of America, Publicity Council, Arthur Page Society.
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