Interview with Aubrey Hamlett, Intern at Milkk PR

This week for my Interview Series, we have Aubrey Hamlett, an intern at Milkk PR and also founder of “”My Interning Life” – a blog about university students and interns in the media sector.

1. You run a fantastic blog called My Interning Life, dedicated to profiling university students. Where did this idea come from?

My Interning Life came about because of a university assignment. In Online Journalism Production, we are required to create a Twitter account, start a blog and create our own website. The website will also contain the content from our blog and we are required to blog once per week with approx 500 words.

I think the idea came to me just out of discussing it with friends. Or perhaps after waking up, because I have on my notepad on my desk “ideas for blog: interns.” It became the logical decision to create My Interning Life as it was something I was currently experiencing and was interested to hear other stories from students.

As I said in my introductory post, I was shocked to find so few students interned. At my uni, it’s not compulsory to do an internship or work experience, but there is a subject where students are required to participate in a certain amount of work experience.

2. What was it that attracted you to the PR industry?

To be honest, I knew little of the PR industry. I have literally fallen into it. My brother’s girlfriend Eden knew that I wanted to gain experience. Eden is a co-editor of a group of independent magazines and she messaged me one day saying that Milkk PR had an opening for an intern and said I would fit in perfectly.

I honestly thought nothing of the email I sent to my future boss, Shereen. I explained what I did at uni (Bachelor of Media Studies, majoring in Journalism) and said I didn’t know much about PR but was willing to learn.

I suppose PR has always interested me and that’s ultimately why I decided to email Shereen. It’s something that I felt was different and would challenge me outside of my university studies.

3. What was your internship there like?

Milk Kiddle Langmaid PR is not your typical work place. We’re based in Shereen’s home office in Brighton and we all bring our laptops and work together while gossiping, snacking on chips and dip, drinking beyond coconut water and chai tea.

On my first day I worked on updating databases, something which I learnt is crucial to PR. Databases and contacts are key to getting information, press releases etc. out to the media industry and pleasing the client.

It’s a very friendly and relaxed environment. But we are also very hard working. It’s always satisfying knowing I’ve done a good job or have found what Shereen needs on that particular day. I’ve been at Milkk for 6 ½ months now and am just starting to gain more confidence with my responsibilities at Milkk.

4. I’ve spoken to quite a few PR professionals in the past year and the issue that keeps coming up is the gap between what you learn in university and what actually happens on the job. Would you agree with this?

I would have to agree.

There isn’t any hands on experience, it’s all theory repeated in different ways in each subject. My university (La Trobe) has an online magazine upstart which is edited by a small group of chosen students in their third year or are grad students. However, if this subject was run for an entire class semester by semester, I think it would be beneficial to future students to learn how editing and publishing works.

If they made the internship subject compulsory for all media/journalism students, that would be the best thing. Getting out there and interning or doing work experience is crucial to understanding the industry you’re studying. It’s also crucial in deciding if your chosen industry is the right career path for you. Hence why I am going to seek out more work experience in newspapers and sports clubs, to see if those areas are what I really want to work in.

5. Did social networking services like Twitter, Facebook, etc. play a part in securing an internship?

Yes. Eden contacted me through Facebook and I believe Shereen ‘advertises’ on her Facebook page for interns. Twitter is also beneficial, as I have made contacts with media industry people, which I am hoping to make use of in the next few months. I tweeted an article I had written to a professional sports player and he read it. I then met him after a game and introduced myself. He has referred me onto the media manager. Fingers crossed I will be interning with this sports organization early next year.

6. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Is there a particular sector of the communications field that you’d really love to work in?

2011 has quite literally thrown me through a loop. I would have never imagined interning in PR, let alone be imagining a career in sports Media/PR. A year ago I would have answered this question as working for ACP, Cosmopolitan in Sydney. Today I don’t know where I’ll be in five years. I have a feeling I’m being nudged in the sports media/PR direction but I really need to find out if this is the right path for me.

In five years, I want to be happy, passionate and successful at my job within the media.

7. And lastly, what are the top 3 blogs you read to stay up-to-date with the PR industry?

I read a lot of blogs, that PR dude is certainly very good and insightful. I find that a lot of PR students are on twitter, but don’t necessarily blog about it. I also read my friend, James Purcell’s blog, The Purcell Report. As I am new to this whole industry, I recommend keeping tabs on Prospect 360 for their PR and media seminars.

**To contact Aubrey say hello on Twitter @aubreyhamlett or check out My Interning Life***

Interview with Jamie Garantziotis, PR Manager of Regional / Corporate Social Media at Southern Cross Austereo

This week for my Interview Series, we have Jamie Garantziotis who is currently working as the PR Manager of Regional / Corporate Social Media at Southern Cross Austereo. Jamie discusses his career path, internships, keeping up with the PR industry and provides some insight into New York’s PR scene.

1. You graduated with a BA (Media & Communications) in 2007 and went on to complete a Master of Communication in 2009. Were there any particular reasons this? Did you find that it benefitted during job hunting?

I didn’t have a straight path into the study of PR. When I finished school I realized that I really enjoyed the world of media and communications but didn’t know where within that broad field I wanted to focus my studies – hence the reason I chose to study Media & Communications  at The University of Melbourne.

I remember that it was during my third year study at Melbourne that I knew I wanted to move in the direction of PR and Corporate Communications. Given that my education to date had been highly theoretical, I wanted to gain practical PR experience, so I headed to Queensland to undertake my Masters study at Bond University. Looking back, the practical training and experience most certainly helped me develop as a professional and to find a job post study.

2. Can you tell us a little about your career path?

During my Masters, I had two internships in PR agencies, working across clients in a range of sectors.

At the same time, I worked part time in Communications for the University’s Executive Education program. After finishing, I returned to Melbourne. The first thing I did was to connect with industry professionals and the local IABC chapter to begin volunteering.

After four months of searching and applying unsuccessfully, I was visiting my brother on the Gold Coast and after re-connecting with a Bond University professor received an email about a PR/Communications role with my current employer – Southern Cross Austereo (then Southern Cross Media). Having been recommended for the role, I stayed on the coast for an interview and within two weeks had been offered the position and jumped back on a plane to Queensland.

After the business merged with Austereo earlier this year, I’ve since moved to work within the Marketing & Communications team back in Melbourne as the Regional PR Manager.

3. What were your internships like? Did you find that they gave you a better idea of which areas of PR you liked / disliked?

My internships were all incredibly different but a lot of fun and excellent learning experiences. No two agencies are exactly alike, and I found that working within different teams and across different sectors did give me a good mix of experience and a better of idea of the industries and practices I enjoyed more than others.

That said; I was only able to find this out by giving everything a go. If I was asked to assist on a fashion account, I would. If I was asked to assist on a legal services client, I would. If I could give current students one piece of advice, it would be to undertake as many internships and gain as much experience as possible.

4. With the online and digital world moving so quickly, how do you find yourself keeping up-to-date with the communications industry?

Seth Godin wrote a great blog post a few weeks ago about the fact that with so many great minds publishing so much content so quickly, we seem to have de-valued this data and information given that it is in such huge supply.

I like to mix up the types of content I consume – most commonly blogs and podcasts. I have a Bloglines account that feeds through all the blogs I subscribe to, and also subscribe to my favourites via email so I can go through them daily and pick the top articles to read. I try to make at least 30-45 minutes each weeknight to read through these, and also have at least an hour or two on weekends to read them.

5. What would be the top 5 blogs that you read?

Okay, the five blogs that I read the most are:

1. Seth Godin

2. Brian Solis

3. Spin Sucks

4. PR Breakfast Club

5. Waxing UnLyrical

6. I read on your blog that you visited New York and subsequently learnt a great deal about their PR and communication scene. Any insights you’d like to share with us?

Ah New York! Yes, I travelled there in May of this year for a holiday / exploration of the communications scene. My friend Harrison Kratz that I work on Engage TV with was based in Philadelphia at the time, and we decided to catch up, head to blog world New York and spend some time meeting fellow PR and social media practitioners.

To be honest, I learnt so much – more than I could put in the answer to this question. In summary, the biggest lessons I learnt can be found in my blog post – What I Learnt in New York, as well as a video interview I had with my friend Des Walsh for Social Media Club Gold Coast. The big lessons / insights were:

•           Lead, don’t follow

•           Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t you’re right!

•           Connect in real life (IRL)

•           The bubble isn’t about to burst

•           The time is now!

7. And lastly, any tips for PR students trying to network themselves into an internship / first job

- Gain as much experience as possible – be pro-active in seeking experience and take the opportunity to try different areas of communications across a range of industries and practices. Even if you’ve recently finished study and are looking for a full-time job, take the chance to intern, network and add to your portfolio.

- Build a personal brand – make sure you have your professional LinkedIn profile set-up to showcase your goals, experience, education and interests. If you’re not already following new media technologies, start to get comfortable with reading blogs / forums and listen to the conversation. Once you’re more comfortable, set up a Twitter account and begin to engage with fellow practitioners. From there – the sky is the limit really. With the barriers to entry for publishing and sharing your own material and thoughts so low, there’s never been a better time to establish your unique brand and voice.

- Connect in real life – take the time to seek out professional events such as networking drinks, social media club meetings, or young professional groups. In Australia, IABC and the PRIA are good associations to follow and attend their events (disclaimer – I am a member of both, and sit on the board of IABC Victoria) – you never know who you might meet and connect with.

- Be authentic and let your passion shine through. If you love what you do (which I hope you do), let that show for all to see.

- Enjoy the journey! Yes, job hunting and networking can be hard – but during my own search I was able to meet some remarkable people that have been so generous, and continue to help me develop personally and professionally. More than that, it was a learning experience that I will never forget or regret.

Best of luck to you all as you embark on the start of your professional journey!

Interview with Adam Boland, Director of Social Media and Strategy at Channel Seven

This week for my Interview Series, we have Adam Boland who is currently the Director of Social Media and Strategy at Channel Seven. Adam has been in media  his whole career and he provides some great insight into the TV industry, social media and his career path.

1. You’re currently the Director of Social Media and Strategy at Channel Seven which sounds like a pretty cool role. Can you describe what a typical day’s like?

I basically hang on twitter all day.  I’m joking!

There’s no such thing as a typical day in television, which I think is what many people find attractive about the industry.

It’s a happy merger of being proactive and responsive.  Every morning at 8:30, we all wait anxiously for the previous day’s ratings and then dissect them down to the minute.  What worked and what didn’t?  That’s the responsive bit.  The proactive element is to try to influence the following day’s ratings.  There’s an old saying in television that you’re only as good as your next ratings – so we are truly accountable each and every day.

I spent ten years running shows here at Seven where my day-to-day was very micro.  I would be across every element of those shows from the writing to the promos to the marketing.  You don’t get much sleep and the pressure gets rather intense.

These days, my focus has shifted to the broader media climate and how our shows can exploit that new world.

So, much of my day is spent learning.  I meet people from all over the world about things they’re doing with social media.  Lots of it is experimenting.  We then figure out what works for us.  I hang with producers and directors – mostly in the news and current affairs department – and develop ideas.  I also spend lots of time with the team at Yahoo!7 which is our sister company.  They are very bright people with so many great online ideas.  We’re developing things now which you’ll see come to life over coming months.  The goal of course is to be ahead of the curve.  The reality though is that this sphere moves so fast, it’s a really big challenge and needs companies to move much quicker than in the past.

2. Before working at Channel Seven, you spent some time working as a producer and reporter at several media outlets, what was your career path like? Have you always wanted to work in media industry?

Media has been my entire life – which is rather sad when you think about it.  Always wanted to be a journo.  Went to university in Canberra to study politics and journalism.  At the end of my first year, my lecturer recommended me for a cadet’s gig in Brisbane.  Even though it meant dropping out of uni, I jumped at the chance.  I couldn’t wait to work – and I never regretted it.

That job at 4BC taught me so much.  The senior reporters there were ruthless with me.  It made me tougher, knocked some arrogance from me and gave me the ultimate crash course.

From there, I went to 3AW in Melbourne before making the switch to TV at Sky News in Sydney. I was one of the founding producers there – which was such a thrill.  We essentially got to write the rules for Australia’s first all news station.

After Sky, I joined Ten as a reporter in Cairns until I got sacked for being an idiot.  Long story.  Seven then picked me up in Sydney and the rest is history.

Seven gave me a chance to experiment.  I surrounded myself with some really smart and energetic people and we got to work on shaking up breakfast and then morning television.  Loved every second.

That said, the media can take over all elements of your life.  It took me way too long to figure out the work-life balance and when I had, I realised that my twenties had vanished.  So, be careful!

3. With digital technology and communication platforms evolving at such a rapid pace, where do you see the TV industry headed in the next 5 years?

Television is changing.  No doubt.  But claims that mainstream TV is dead are just so silly.  I think rather than replacing the big boys, new forms of media will work WITH the big boys – making the experience even better for the user.

So, we’re now seeing shows that integrate social media into their formats.  We’re seeing new apps that allow viewers to have conversations while watching their favourite shows with other fans of the show.  Accompanying content and broader integrated conversations are the way forward.  And that’s really cool.

You’re also seeing more options for users – whether they be online or on-air.  So brands are evolving.  Sunrise is a good example.  Sure – our main game is our broadcast time from 6am to 9am but we now have producers who are constantly pumping content out via our website or the apps 24/7.  It’s about ensuring that users get more out of us.  There shouldn’t be a disconnect at 9am.  The conversation simply continues.

4. You’re currently juggling multiple projects on hand; working at Channel Seven, opening up The Ginseng Baths, on the board of the Griffin Theatre Company – how do you manage your time? Do you find yourself planning everything out?

I think everyone needs to look at their schedules – no matter what work they do.  Sorry about getting philosophical, but life is so short.  I like the idea of jamming as much in as possible so I can contribute as much as possible and gain as much as possible.  I also like variety.

I think too many people fall into a default position: get up, go to work, come home, eat, go to bed. Repeat.  I am probably allowed more flexibility than most – but I also insist upon it.  Variety gives your mind much more energy.

5. And lastly, for students out there aspiring to carve a career in the media industry, any tips on how to make it?

Enthusiasm.  No point getting into this industry unless you have passion.  I meet too many people who expect to be fast tracked to fame.  Firstly, most of the fun happens OFF camera.  Secondly, you need to earn your stripes.  Expecting to simply get work at Sydney’s biggest agency or station is unrealistic – and frankly, no fun.  The journey is cool.

Oh, and everyone in the industry should be getting their heads around social media.  I’m not just saying that because of my role.  Engagement is the future.  Actually, engagement is the present.  So, people need to know how to engage.  Not that frightening really and you could just make some new friends!

***To contact Adam say hello in Twitter @adamboland7 or on Google+ ***

Interview with Abby Stollar, PR Student and Intern at Inside Out Creative

This week for my Interview Series, we have Abby Stollar, a senior at the University of Delaware, majoring in Mass Communication and minoring in political science, political communication, and journalism. Abby discusses working at Inside Out Creative, her determination to stand out in a competitive job market and how she manages to write great content on a consistent basis.
1. First off, tell us a little about yourself – why PR?

I’ve always had a love for communication, especially writing. When I was younger, I thought I wanted to be a novelist and then later a magazine journalist. Once I was old enough to understand what “public relations” was, I knew that was a great way to combine my love for writing and communication and decided to pursue it in college. Soon, I loved anything and everything PR-related!

PR is all about symbiotic, two-way communication, and I love that aspect. It brings people together; it encourages conversation. Good PR is never selfish; it’s all about what’s best for a key audience or public.

2. You’re studying a combination of communications, journalism and political science. Where do you see your career path headed? Any plans for government communication roles?

 I am very interested in the public affairs part of public relations. Ultimately, I would like to be a legislative advocate for some type of non-profit organization. PR professionals are essentially advocates for their brand, and this advocacy concept translates nicely into the public affairs arena. I love to see how communication can help aid change, and the best legislative advocates can construct and communicate messages to help bring change to a group or community.

3. What was your role at Inside Out Creative like?

 This summer, I interned at Inside Out Creative, a full-service public relations, marketing, design, and social media agency, in York, Pa. Although I am back in Newark, Del., for my senior year, I am still a freelancer and work as on projects as needed.

My main responsibilities included developing and executing social media strategic plans for clients in the education, hospitality, and service industries. In addition, I did a little bit of everything – event planning, press release writing, speech writing, newsletter writing, and yes, more writing!

4. You seem to juggle a lot of roles; Director of Public Relations for the StUDent Government Association, a University Teacher’s Assistant for the Journalism Program, and an Events/Legislative intern at Autism Delaware, plus all those uni classes! How do you manage your workload?

The key is organization and sticking to a schedule! In addition to using my a planner, I use the “stickies” function on my computer and constantly keep to-do lists on my desktop. It’s also important to schedule far in advance; I always look at my schedule at least two weeks at a time so that I can proactively finish assignments and projects when necessary. And finally, I always schedule some “me” time by working out in the mornings. It helps de-stress me and start off each morning refreshed and ready for the long day ahead! I also drink a lot of coffee…honestly, what PR professional doesn’t?

5. You created a fascinating presentation about “My Journey to Avoid Unemployment” – what were the reasons behind this?

I’m really trying to explore more “digital” media and brand myself as a creative PR professional. I learned about Prezi a few months back and always wanted to try it, so I spent a few weeks this summer trying it out and developing this “digital” resume for myself. In a competitive job market, it’s always important to stand out, so that’s exactly what I’m trying to do!

6. Lately I’ve spent more time staring at a blank screen than actually typing, yet you seem to continually churn out great content. Any advice?

Well thank you for your compliment!  The best advice I can give is to always be looking around you for ideas and write them down when you have them!

For example, I got the idea for my latest piece about whether or not social media can ever be a 9-to-5 job, when I needed to contact Vistaprint’s customer service and realized that their PR team managed their Twitter account only from 9am to 5 pm.

Also, I’ll write about topics that I’m currently researching/interested in using for projects and in classes. My post about “Making your social media pitch” is based off of a presentation I gave in my upper-level PR management class. The presentation took me a long time to prepare and included doing a lot of research, so I wanted to maximize that by including it on my blog.

The other thing I’ll do is write blog posts whenever I have time (which honestly isn’t all that often, haha!) and save them to post at a later date. This way, I have a steady stream of content rather than posting a bunch during one week and then none the next. Over the summer when I had more time, I wrote a few posts to use over the course of the fall semester. However, some of my posts have to be timely (especially the political ones), so that “prepare ahead of time” mentality doesn’t always work out

7. And lastly, any tips for the communication students out there looking for their first internship?

Be proactive. That’s the best advice I can give. I feel like many students get overwhelmed and maybe even intimidated at the application and interview process for internships, but it’s not always like that. I always encourage students to look to non-profit organizations as a great place to start your internship career.

Non-profits are always looking for free help and will usually take on an intern who is willing to learn and to work. Those are great places to gain experience and will give you an edge later when going on to apply for bigger, more competitive internships. Seek out opportunities and you will be successful!

***To contact Abby check out her blog http://abbystollar.com or say hello @abbynicole1204***