Interview with a PR professional

Interview with Lorrie Walker of Lorrie Walker Communications, Inc.

1. What’s a typical week like? (If no week is typical, then what was last week like?)

We do a lot of writing instead of campaigns. The bulk of our work is writing or dealing with our clients. Vast majority is writing press releases or web content for clients. The second most important thing is generating media publicity for clients to peak the interest of media outlets and make connections for clients. These are the things we do in a typical week.

2. Tell me about a project you worked on that you are especially proud of.

Most recently we worked with Park Auto Mall, a used car dealership.  The owner has taken in some unusual things on trade—he took in a horse, which he thought would make for a good press release. He wanted some media attention, so we came in and got the story to print and to Internet exposure.  The owner is having a cable television show about used car dealers. It is a reality TV show and filming starts this week. This was a recent project that was a lot of fun.

3. What do you do to keep current in the PR industry?

Follow social media, follow certain twitter hashtags, and follow email newslists like prweb. We also nose around on our own to see what other PR firms do.

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

I wish I would have known to take some marketing courses as well as courses in the research realm. Learning how to target audiences can be difficult without knowing how to research, so we mostly draw from past campaigns to see what works and what makes people tick.

5. How important is writing in your career?

We wouldn’t be a business if we weren’t good writers.  It’s what we do. You have to know how to write according to associated press style. If something is written the way they want it, then it is more likely to get printed. Who has time to fix other people’s writing? Interns better have the current AP stylebook.

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

1. look for internships before it’s even required

2. be good at writing, read good writing, and write often

3. search engine optimization–know SEO to make you more marketable

7. Did your education prepare you for working in PR? How?

Yes and no.  I didn’t finish college right after high school. I became a journalist in the army, and that training does help with what I do know. I went back to school as an adult, and that degree has helped in knowing how to run my business but not specifically PR work. If I were to go to graduate school, I would go for a masters degree in PR or communication.

8. How has PR changed since you entered the field?

So drastically. In the early 90s we were still laying out newspapers and printing and cutting. We didn’t email, didn’t type notes into a word document. It’s no longer by hand. Everything is now social media related, and there are more opportunities now. We use social media to promote our clients or their businesses.

9. How does technology affect your daily work?

Streamlines it. It’s easier. We can post something in one place and it will show up at another. (Facebook and twitter connection) We work smarter not harder.

10. When your company is hiring for an entry-level PR position, what makes a candidate stand out?

-Strong writer

-Understands AP stylebook

-Well versed on social media

-Have a Twitter account and use it

-Have and use Facebook smartly

-Understand Tweetdeck

-Have a 4 square account and use it

-Be as techy-nerdy as possible

11. After interviewing this person, are you (the student, not the practitioner) more or less likely to want to have a career in PR? Why?

Less likely.  I’m not well versed in social media and I probably don’t stay as current as someone who is looking into PR should be. I don’t really see myself as having a career in PR, but that’s not to say I don’t enjoy learning about it.

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