What are your job responsibilities/duties?
In this senior-level role, I lead Gensler’s Public Relations strategy and programs within the firm's North Central Region. I am responsible for media outreach, strategic press placements, firm publications, digital channels, social media, content creation, speaking engagements, blogs, and industry awards for the region's individual markets as well as messaging and reputation for the region as a whole.
I play a key role in sharing the Gensler story and in supporting our clients through the lens of what matters most to the communities and people where Gensler makes an impact. The team works collaboratively across the firm and with clients by winning trust, building reputations and designing key messages.
Gensler is a global architecture, design and planning firm with 44 locations and more than 5,000 professionals networked across Asia, Europe, Australia, the Middle East and the Americas. Founded in 1965, the firm serves more than 3,500 active clients in virtually every industry. Gensler designers strive to make the places people live, work and play more inspiring, more resilient, and more impactful.
What does a typical day look like?
Read. Read. Read. Every business section in the major papers for my various markets, plus all the national trade publications coming out that day. Mining the office for the stories that make the office relevant and exciting. Meetings on new projects, emerging stories, and PR strategy. Then, a lot of email. And, I mean a lot.
What do you most enjoy about your job?
Hands down: building and creating relationships with reporters, journalists, and feature writers. Learning their personalities and writing styles always fascinates me.
What is the most difficult aspect of the job?
In PR, most of what you do is failure. To rise above the failure, to find the next pitch, the next story, and shake off the one you thought was "THE ONE". It's not all glitz and galas. The 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, is really 5am until midnight Mondaythrough Monday. You have to absolutely love the PR industry to survive.
What on-campus activities were you involved with? Where did you gain relevant experience?
I worked while I was in school. While many of my friends were in greek life, or athletes, or living it up just going to class, I worked every random job I could find. The means was to pay for my tuition. In the end, it laid a firm foundation for entering the workforce straight out of graduation. I also had my first child immediately after graduating undergrad and was getting my Master's while raising a toddler. It was not the easiest way to go to college, but the support of the professors, my employers, and my family proved to be my most life-changing years to date.
How did your experience at ILLINOIS and in the College of Media prepare you for your professional life? For this specific position?
Meeting deadlines and knowing how a newsroom works benefits the success of my role every single day. I know what it's like to be on deadline and it's my job to ensure journalists and reporters have all the information they need to get their story correct and on time. Also, writing for broadcast is incredibly important as we live in a twitter-based information cycle. In broadcast writing there is no tolerance for "large" language or long-winded sentences. Say what you mean and say it well .... quickly, no less.
What advice do you have for students interested in this field?
Students interested in PR or Corporate Communications should get real jobs as quickly as they can while on campus. Work for a company, if you can. Also, learn how to be sure in what you say, have facts to back it up, or, don't say anything at all. Also, you must be highly organized. There are always a million things up in the air at any given moment. You must be organized, know how to prioritize, and smile through the whole thing.
What is one thing that you know now that you wish you had known when you started in the field? When you graduated from the College?
Every position at any company will teach you something you couldn't learn in school. Be sure you take the "how to learn" with you as the most important skill and opportunities will follow. I still learn something new every day -- something that is building my career in ways I may not even recognize now. Say yes to new opportunities -- even when you may not think it's a good match -- because you will learn something about communications, the industry, or yourself in the process.