This series of career interviews with college alumni will explore the various career paths that people take after graduation. Part of the goal is to show the wide array of options and potential futures for college students who are on the fence about what they want to do, and also to get a scope on how it's like to work in a particular field or industry.
Meet Winona*, who works as a Publicist for a PR firm in Los Angeles. Winona works with clients to schedule press interviews, meetings, and other publicity events.
Name: Winona (*Name has been changed)
Job Title: Entertainment Publicist at a PR Firm
Location: Los Angeles, California
College You Graduated From: California State University: Northridge
Degree: B.S. in Marketing, Class of 2013
What attracted you to the public relations industry?
I actually kind of just fell into it. I wanted to go into marketing but found myself with PR internships and then eventually a PR job. I consider PR and Marketing to be very similar so I stuck with it. Would still like to eventually go into marketing though.
How would you compare the reality of being a publicist to the vision you had of it while in college?
I wasn't really sure what to expect in college but I think it's a really fun job.
On a scale of 1-10 (10=best), how would you rate your college courses in preparing you for your career?
5? I had a few classes like writing for business and speech that I think helped prepare me.
What surprised you the most about being a publicist?
One of the things that surprised me was sometimes we reach out to brands about doing partnerships with the clients. I thought that was something a manager did.
Describe a typical day of working as a publicist at your firm. What do you spend most of your day doing?
My typical day changes all the time. Some days we are pitching most of the day and some days we are out at press interviews and meetings with the clients.
How many hours do you work each week? Does it vary depending on clients' needs or is it constant?
It definitely varies on the client needs! Most of the time it is the typical 8 hour day but when huge events come around like fashion week, Grammys, Oscars, etc. we have to work extra to prep schedules and possibly staff if we need to be there. Product launches are also really busy, especially if we are planning a launch event.
Describe your working environment. Is your firm large/small, bureaucratic/intimate, do you spend a lot of time alone or talking to people face-to-face, etc?
We are a small firm in terms of employees. We all sit pretty close and that makes communication easy between us. We do a lot of pitching over emails and phone calls though. Sometimes we do get to meet with journalist face to face to grab coffee and that is always fun.
What are your favorite parts of being a publicist?
My favorite part of being a publicist is when you get great hits and you see it come out. I recently secured an interview for a client in a national magazine and I'm so proud of it. I didn’t write it and it doesn’t have my name anywhere near it but it’s the next best thing.
What are your least favorite parts of being a publicist?
My least favorite part of being a publicist is making schedules and chasing the clients to follow those schedules. It’s the worst to get a call in the middle of the night because a client needs a car to go somewhere last minute in a different state.
What changes can you see taking place in public relations over the next few years?
I see a lot of press being online over. There's already loads of online only shows and news sites that people obsess over.
What advice can you give to college students who are thinking of pursuing a career in public relations?
I would say to make sure you like being around people and talking to people. it’s a very social career. You also can not have a thin skin. Don't take anything personally. People will say no to talking about your client no matter how big they are and you can't take it personally.