This week DASH Communications caught up with one of our very own professors, Andrea Petruzella, and asked her a few questions. Here’s what she had to say.
1. At the beginning of your career, did you at any point feel unsure about the direction you were heading in? Were you always able to follow your passions, or did you find yourself making a lot of sacrifices?
I can quite honestly say that at the beginning of my career I barely understood what PR was!
I studied biology at university hoping to work in health promotion and preventative medicine, and this trail eventually led me into PR, including work for the pharmaceutical industry and patient advocacy groups.
Because public relations touches every kind of organization you can think of, a career in PR offers so many opportunities to follow your passions into your job, and has definitely done this for me.
I would never recommend sacrificing what is important to you in a workplace culture or field of work. But I would say that it is extremely important to keep an open mind throughout your entire career about how your passions might be fulfilled as different doors open for you.
An organization, cause or company that doesn’t seem sexy or in line with your ambitions at first glance might actually offer the perfect foundation to set you on your path.
For example if your passion is charitable work but you find yourself struggling to find a way in, you could consider working for the community relations or philanthropic team in a for-profit organization.
By nurturing your passion, building a network, and then being creative and open-minded in your job search approach, you will build a rewarding and satisfying career.
2. Having worked abroad yourself, you know what it’s like to work away from your home, friends and family. What is the most important piece of advice you could offer students wishing to find placements in other cities and countries? *You don’t have to limit this to professional advice.
Pack patience and a sense of humour. Remember that getting settled into a job and a social network will not happen overnight but will happen in time.
Working abroad is enriching and offers so many benefits whether you are planning a short-term or long-term stay.
Even if on the surface the culture and language of your destination country appear similar to the one you coming from, there will always be an adjustment period and moments of feeling a bit lost.
If you are going from a smaller PR market to a larger one, you may have to work a bit harder to prove your skills and knowledge when you are starting out.
3. Based on your own experience, what are some major differences between working for a large multi-national company and for a smaller local organization?
There are many differences but here are some of the biggest.
PR for a multinational organization
Big budgets: Working for a big, networked client can bring the benefit bigger project budgets, which can be an asset for innovative campaign planning.
Slow approval: Unfortunately, a bigger company also usually means it takes longer to approve PR projects, as bigger teams, additional layers of management, and the need for consistent and centralized planning and slow the process.
Third party management: Broadly speaking, working for a larger organization often means more third party management, whether that be managing graphic designers, or event organizers, or even niche media specialists to assist with PR initiatives. Your role is very focused on PR and you work with a rich team.
PR for a local organization
Ideas into action: Working for a small, independent organization can often mean the opportunity to implement a creative idea quickly. Because the strategy does not have to align with a larger brand and the decision-makers are usually all in one building, both proactive and reactive PR initiatives can be organized quickly. Unfortunately the budget is not always available for the really ‘big’ ideas in smaller companies.
More hands-on: On smaller teams, you will usually end up playing a more hands-on role, often contributing in areas outside your specific expertise. It would be common for a PR practitioner to create content for any job, but in a smaller setting you might also be asked to handle the newsletter design, or create the website for example.
Have your voice heard: Again because of geography, in a small organization you have usually have the potential to work more closely with the decision-makers, which can mean getting to know the brand more intimately and having your voice heard.
4.Do you think the future of the public relations industry is secure?
I think this is a really exciting time to be entering public relations.
News and information consumption and sharing habits are changing so quickly. Traditional news gatekeepers like tv broadcast and daily papers are evolving, new technologies are emerging and seeing rapid, global adoption (the tablet computer has been adopted more ubiquitously than any communication technology before it), and new social media tools are emerging – and dying – daily.
These changes are creating so many new ways for organizations and stakeholders to interact, which leads to richer relationships. It also means that stakeholders have a platform to share their honest experiences and feedback on a broad scale, putting the organization’s reputation now more than ever in the hands of its audience.
PR’s job has always been to drive this stakeholder interaction, build these relationships, and build trust and maintain credibility among consumers. Now that these elements are becoming ever more central to the traditional marketing mix, the role for PR is more important than ever.