Think Happy Thoughts

Interview with a PR Professional

Posted on: April 8, 2009

I interviewed Jeremy Pepper who is the global Public Relations manager for Boingo Wireless. He has been in the PR field for 11 years. He graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in philosophy. In college, he worked for a college newspaper and did campaigning for student government, which he never lost. After graduation, a friend told him he would be good as a PR practitioner, which is what he did. Here is his interview:

What would you consider a typical week to be like for you?
Each day is pretty similar, but it really changes week to week.
Morning starts where I scan the news – national, local and trade
press. I then scan for coverage of Boingo (I’m the internal PR manager
at the firm).

From there, I look over the list of things to do and start the work.
That can range from media outreach, to PR planning and strategy, to
writing press releases. I write two a month, and the internal and
external process tends to get sticky.

There’s also the typical weekly marketing and PR firm meetings, as
well as one-on-ones with the boss.

What is your favorite part of your job? Do you have a least favorite?
It’s about the relationship building, writing and story telling. For
me, that’s the core of public relations – no matter if it’s social
media or traditional or community outreach. You are finding a common
ground, no matter the outlet, and telling a story that will resonate.
To me, part of PR is the ability to build and tell a story.

In PR overall, the worst part is that bloggers do not go out to get
the full story – or, well, blame others for their own issues and
faults. It’s part of what journalism is coming to, as well – there’s
no more fact checkers, and lazy journalism that does not get the full
story.

Is there any project in particular that you have done that tops all others?
It depends on what project

Early in my career, I was most proud of working on the breast cancer
stamp project, helping it become a Β reality – the stamp has raised
tens of millions of dollars for breast cancer research; I continued
working with the surgeon, trying to get license plates in various
states to support breast cancer treatments – to help underinsured or
uninsured women get mammograms.

I am also proud of the work I did at Ofoto – took the company from
launch to acquisition. During that process, I worked with a reporter
from the Wall Street Journal on online photography, and from my work
with her, we dominated the article.

While working with Kodak, one of my proudest moments was working
closely with a reporter and being the main focus on a digital
photography and camera story for Communication Arts 40th Annual
Photography edition, a key publication for the professional
photographers.

At my last job, I was proud of the work in social media that I did
with large Fortune 100’s, including Cisco, Verizon and Clorox and
integrating social media into the traditional campaigns.

What is the most important part of your job?
Writing. If you cannot write concise pitch letters, press releases and
emails – you are unable to communicate to clients, media, colleagues
to get your salient points out to the public. No matter what I do,
it’s about writing.

Most of outreach is now done via email, and if you cannot write a
concise, smart and targeted pitch – you’re done.

What advice would you give anyone looking for a career in the PR field?
* Don’t be afraid of picking up the phone – it’s a key part of the
public relations practice, and the best way to build relationships
* Remember that the client comes first – too often in PR now,
practitioners are pushing themselves first, before the client. Clients
pay the salary, remember to do the work for them
* Hone your writing. Practice your writing. Learn AP style. The most
important thing in PR – besides relationships – is writing ability
* Be well rounded – it’s not just about traditional or social media,
but the joining of the two. Be able to show that you are going to be
well-rounded at the entry-level job, and as your career moves on, you
will be able to find your specialization

** After interviewing Mr. Pepper I realized even more how important PR practitioners are to a company. It also seems like an exciting field, and I look forward to hopefully working in it somehow.

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