Posted by: Sarah Kemp | March 25, 2010

Interview

For my PR informational interview, I interviewed Melissa Webb. Melissa is one of my Phi Mu sorority sisters from GSU, as well as a successful PR Professional in Atlanta now. She received her Bachelor’s degree from GSU in Public Relations, and completed her internship at Pineapple PR. I conducted the interview with Melissa over the phone because it was difficult to meet face-to-face because of distance. Melissa is now the Account Executive at Pineapple Public Relations, and she has worked there for about 4 years now. She gave some great information and tips for any public relations student and I hope you enjoy it!

What’s a typical week like for you personally at Pineapple? Well, we are a travel and tourism agency, so mostly our main clients consist of hotels, resorts, convention and visitor’s bureaus, attractions and restaurants. A typical week begins with our Monday planning meetings to discuss all the tasks that need to be completed throughout the week.  Then the craziness begins… Last week I worked on deskside interviews with Atlanta and Birmingham writers for my client, Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. This is when we bring a client representative to meet with the media and let them know about the property and what all they have to offer, while at the same time learning how the property can be a fit for the publication. Interviews consisted of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Magazine, Southern Living Magazine, Coastal Living Magazine, Cooking with Paula Deen Magazine and others….

Also, I worked on inviting media on a media trip to Augusta, GA to give them an insider’s look of the city to secure coverage in upcoming issues of their publications. Of course every week press release writing, media pitching and follow-ups come into play. I am constantly one the phone and e-mailing with writers trying to figure out what they are working on, and how my clients can fit into their editorial plans. At the end of every month, we also pull together monthly reports, which highlight what we do for each client, and publicity summaries. Basically, no week is the same!

Tell me about a project you worked on that you are especially proud of.- Recently my client, The Partridge Inn, a historic hotel in Augusta, GA celebrated its 100-year anniversary. We held a campaign to get the community involved in the celebration since it has been a significant part of Augusta for so long. So, for the celebration, we planned a luncheon where we invited significant Augustans such as the Mayor, and the Augusta media. We had each guest bring a historic piece to get them involved, and took each item that was contributed and put it into a time capsule to be buried in celebration of their 100-year anniversary. Each participant got up to talk about their item during the luncheon, and shared a memory that they had of The Partridge Inn. It was a huge success!!!

I did extensive media outreach for the anniversary to the local media and was able to secure the front page of The Augusta Chronicle, the local daily paper, and a huge feature article on the hotel and a ton of broadcast coverage and magazine coverage. We have seen a huge increase in locals coming to the hotel, and getting involved in hotel events since the celebration.

What do you do to keep current in the PR industry? We attend PRSA events, we participate in online seminars and we keep up-to-date with the trends through other pr reps we work with and social media.

What do you wish you would have known before starting your career in PR?

  • How hard it is to find a job. I lucked out, but positions are very limited in the industry. Also, how important connections are. You would be surprised how things circle around.
  • PAY!!! I don’t know if you want to break that news to everyone though. Pay sucks!!!
  • But, it is a great job and a lot of fun. You never have the same day twice!

How important is writing in your career?

  • Writing is very important, not only because you are writing press releases and other forms of communication for your client, but e-mail is the number one way of communication in this field.
  • The people you are communicating with are all writers so you do not want to look uneducated to them.

What three tips would you offer someone just starting out in PR?

  1. Be prepared for anything
  2. Find something you are passionate about, because when you are selling someone or something to a writer you need to feel passionate about it yourself.
  3. Research the different areas of PR to see which one will fit you best.

Did your education prepare you for working in PR? How? Yes, education prepared me for the jist of working in PR and provided me with the general skills I use, but nothing can really prepare you until you work in the industry since companies do things so differently. That is why internships are so important. The writing classes and campaign classes were the most helpful for me because these are things that you use is all aspects of PR.

What has surprised you the most about working in PR? The way that the business changes so quickly. With the economy and so many up-and-coming social media networks, there are not many print writers anymore. You constantly have to find new ways and outlets to promote your client.

When your company is hiring for an entry-level PR position, what makes
a candidate stand out?
Their background in PR, writing skills, if they have ever had any experience in the tourism and hospitality field and a good personality. You need someone who can go with the flow, and someone with a flexible schedule in our job because things can come up very quickly.

3380 Hardee Avenue
Atlanta, Georgia 30341
Phone:  404.667.9304

mwebb12@gmail.com


Thanks Melissa!

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Responses

  1. Loved this post! I always love reading about interviews but I especially liked reading this one because you asked a lot of great questions. I liked that the questions you asked were geared towards Public Relations graduates who are going to be out looking for a job in the near future. My two favorite questions that you asked were the tips on starting out in the public relations field and the things people should know before going out and applying. I am loving keeping up with your blog, keep the great posts coming! They are all not only entertaining to read, but extremely informative!

  2. […] https://skemp1.wordpress.com/2010/03/25/interview/#comment-88 […]

  3. Oh no pay sucks?! I’m just kidding. I like how she said she wish she had known it would be so hard finding a job. I feel like we have not been prepared for that at all. All my life I’ve been told you go to college, you apply for jobs, you graduate, and then you start work. I never realized searching for a job would be a full time job in itself. It’s scary out there and I think people are afraid to tell you that, but if we were more prepared for the tough job search, maybe we would be more prepared instead of thinking everything was so perfect and easy.

  4. […] 14. Sarah Kemp, Interview […]

  5. Your interview is really interesting and Melissa seems like she has a really neat job! Like she said, it seems to be really important to be passionate about the work you are doing because you are selling ideas and clients in a way. It’s important to believe in what you say and do! She also said that email is important so for us as PR students we need to be able to write professional emails that get the point across. It really seems like writing needs to be our number one skill along with overall communication skills. This interview was really informative!

  6. […] Sarah Kemp […]

  7. Cool! I like the name Pineapple PR. Your friend seems to have landed and maintained a pretty awesome job. Sounds fun to work with hotels, resorts, and restaurants. The planning portion seems stressful, but yet I bet seeing the finished product makes it worth it. Her Patridge Inn project was a great idea, and I am glad it turned out well. Pulling front page of The Augusta Chronicle and getting broadcast and magazine coverage is PR at its finest. Her admitting that pay is not so great kind of scares me, but I mean if you enjoy what you do then that is important too. I love to write, I work for a newspaper, so the fact that your friend mentions writing as important is great. I already know it is, but you can never be stressed enough. It’s nice to know all the hard work in my PR class will honestly and truly pay off in the real world. Congrats to your friend for finding a great job and success.


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