As of a few weeks ago I found myself wondering if PR was really for me. Was this the path that I wanted to go down? Could I see myself as a PR professional? I decided to talk to a professional in the field of Public Relations and gain some personal insight from their experiences.
I interviewed Laura Warfel, Olivet Nazarene’s very own Public Relations Specialist.
Laura is a professional writer, previous marketing specialist, and currently Olivet’s PR Specialist. Her background in both of these areas have created her to be a versatile asset for the Public Relations team at Olivet.
Throughout the interview I conducted with Warfel, I learned the in’s and out’s of PR: the good, the bad, and the ugly. She shared with me different lessons that her years of work taught her.
Know your audience, understand your demographic, and act accordingly were some key ideas that dominated the conversation.
Similar to the book we read in class, “It’s Not About the Coffee” by Howard Behar, Warfel shared with me that knowing your audience and your demographic, is one of the most important factors when working with the public. It is all about the people (according to Behar) and it was good to hear that a PR professional agreed with this statement. If you don’t know what your audience wants, is looking for, or interested in, then everything you put out there is less likely to succeed. Once you learn their interests, goals, and desires, your efforts are more likely to take off.
When you really understand and know your audience you learn that, “‘you have to kill your darlings.’” Warfel’s friend shared this bit of knowledge with her and Warfel describes it as one of the hardest things that you can experience in PR. People are not always as excited as you are when you create and put something you work on out into the public. And to reach your audience, sometimes your favorite work does not reach your demographic, and in that case, you will need to ‘kill your darlings.’
For Warfel, one of the best things about PR is the fact that she is able to connect with people. Out of all of her strengths, connecting with people is highest on the list. Being able to reach people and really connect with them is her favorite thing about working in PR. Whether that be with the public or within the company she works for. Being able to create genuine relationships is key in the PR world. Connecting with others and being able to utilize the different relationships you have is important—especially when involving yourself into different fields that you may not be familiar with, such as technology, science, medicine, etc.
A very important characteristic to have as a PR professional is enthusiasm/passion for your product or company. It goes hand in hand, if you aren’t excited or passionate about the product or company you work for, you will be less likely to share it with the public.
I encourage anyone who is on the fence with whatever they’re studying to interview or shadow the professionals in the field they are thinking about entering. I have found this so helpful when deciding whether or not I want to study X or Y or Z.
By Christina Cusumano, Junior Account Executive, KC-CASA