Informational Interview

March 28, 2010 at 11:11 PM (PRCA 3711)

I recently did an interview with someone in the PR field. I interviewed Holly West who is a Georgia Southern 2009 Alum. She now works at Superior Staffing Inc. in St. Simon Island. Superior Staffing is a leading provider of diversified staffing services to businesses, professional organizations and government agencies. Superior Staffing is a full-service staffing firm providing temporary, contract, temp-to-hire, outsourcing and subcontractor services throughout the Brunswick, St. Simons, Sea Island and surrounding areas. They are committed to providing a higher quality and more personalized level of service to our clients and specialize in recruiting and placing qualified personnel.

I conducted the interview over the phone. With travelling and separate work/school schedules a meeting time was almost impossible for this interview. Holly really answered my questions with great enthusiasm and honesty. I definitely felt as though I will take what she said with me and try to hold on to it for my future in the world of PR. None of her answers made me rethink my decision to get into public relations. They just made me want to do the necessary research and gain the right experience so that I can hopefully one day have a “dream job”.

I did ask a good many questions, but I bolded the questions so that you will be able to skim through and read the responses you are interested in.

Below are the questions and answers:

  • What is your title at work? Office Administrator/ Secretary
  • What type of education background did you have for this field? If any, where? 2009 Bachelor’s in Public Relations at Georgia Southern University
  • Did you gain experience through internships, etc. If so what were they and did they help you? I gained a great deal of experience through my internship at The Butin Group. This public relations/marketing and communications firm provided me an opportunity to figure out what aspects of public relations I enjoyed most by putting my education to use. After learning that public relations could focus on different areas, it’s easier to narrow down what areas work best for you or what areas you can improve on by getting a ‘hands on’ experience. I was also able to understand more fully how each area of public relations works full circle to achieve a specific goal, rather than focusing on a specific area in the classroom.
  • What’s a typical work week like? I have designated tasks throughout the week, however as with most jobs, I have to be prepared for a kink in the schedule. I am responsible for all incoming calls, filing, payroll, work scheduling for employees, entering data, sales calls, writing proposals, monthly newsletter, updating website information, and interviewing potential employees.
  • Have you worked on a project that you are especially proud of? If so, tell me about it.  I recently reorganized a database to make printing and searching specific fields easier and more efficient. I also compiled information and formatted my first two monthly newsletters. Both the database organization and the newsletter made me feel like I had accomplished a task that I was actually educated in performing, and not necessarily a basic skill.
  • What do you do to keep current in the PR industry? I read two PR blogs, the PRSA website, and stay up on aspects that pertain to my job such as sales techniques though magazine publications. I also try to maintain my knowledge and continue learning about social media.
  • What do you wish you would have known before starting your career in PR? No one aspect of public relations is any less important than another. Even though I am not practicing all things concerning PR, it is important to store all PR knowledge and continue researching new trends. I may not enjoy certain areas of public relations, but ignoring my weaknesses or dislikes will only prevent you from being a better professional practitioner.
  • How important is writing in your career? I really enjoy writing, and I believe it is very important in my career. It is a form of communication, and in my job it involves communicating to our employees and potential clients through the distribution of company information and proposals. If I fail to communicate a written message properly, it could result in conflicts or the loss of employees and clients.
  •  What three tips would you offer someone just starting out in PR? 1.) Absorb all the information you can in the classroom, no matter how relevant you think it might be to your career 2.) Take your internship seriously. It may result in a job offer or the chance to better your skills to impress your first boss. 3.) Never stop researching. One of the first things you’ll learn about PR is that it’s always changing, and your failure to keep up with trends may prevent you from bettering your potential for moving up in your career.
  •  Did your education prepare you for working in PR? How? I hate to admit that I regret not taking my education more seriously, but I do. However, when I chose to learn a thing or two, I have definitely found my education to be very useful. In some instances, I wish my professors would have spent more time focusing on certain aspects of public relations, but each and every public relations class taught me something that I have used in my career. Before entering PR classes, I suppose I originally thought that the PR process just consisted of concentrated areas, and that no one thing was related to another. But even if you are working in a concentrated area, every aspect of public relations is related. Each part concerns communication, research, writing, and a goal. And understanding every aspect is essential. If you pick and chose what you like and focus on that, you won’t understand the full circle. Thankfully your degree requires you to take a certain number of classes from each area, otherwise, I would have been up the creek without a paddle.
  • What has surprised you the most about working in PR? Communication comes in many forms, but keeping a clear and consistent message is key. Everything related to a campaign, company message, marketing plan, etc. must be consistent. If not, the public will pick up on mixed messages. I have seen this work so well when the message is communicated properly, but when inconsistent, clients or employees have complaints or conflicts.
  • How does technology affect your daily work? Social media in some form has been implemented in almost every company in the world. Statistics for multi-usage of social media for businesses is rising every day as well. I am at a computer entering data, information, emailing and updating our website for the majority of my work day. The more you know about technology, the more appealing and helpful you will be at your job. Having previous experience with certain computer programs gave me a much better advantage when applying for my current job. Like PR, technology is rapidly changing, and it is extremely important for students to learn as much about technology as possible.
  • When your company is hiring for an entry-level PR position, what makes a candidate stand out?Computer skills are a stand out feature. I would consider learning about media search programs, design programs, website design, and developing good internet research skills. PR positions want you to be everything in one. Especially in today’s economy, you want to have multiple stand out features to fit multiple job positions. Before applying for my current job, I was on the rejection end for several positions because I didn’t have enough experience or knowledge for some of the requirements. Organizational skills are an important feature, not just physically and visually, but rather in the planning sense. Being able to organize a proposal and list specific steps and stages looks really good to companies who need a PR practitioner to fix their current problems. For instance, be able to interview with confidence when they request that you provide a short, yet detailed plan to implement over the course of a year. While it may seem difficult to think about, if you do the research of the company, know their clients and have an idea of what they do, then being able to explain a plan of action would highly impress a big executive or human resource director.


  1. The Pink Tulip said,

    I like how you wrote your interview and Holly West. I love the fact that she is a Georgia Southern Alum!!.. It really seems that she enjoys her job and had no problem in telllng you all that it entailed!. Great Job!.

  2. dsmilez said,

    Your interview is very informative. Mrs. West seems like she has a good job and has a good head on her shoulders. I like how she expresses the importance of internships and promotes that hands on experience is the best kind of experience. Although I like environments with structure and organization, I realize going into Public Relations that is not always going to be the case. It’s nice to know that for the most part she has designated tasks and order in her position. It is also good that Mrs. West also keeps up with her area of work by reading blogs, visiting the PRSA website, and keeps up with social media. I appreciate the tips she gives.

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