Up to this point in the series, we’ve had Gregory Tan, digital analyst at Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence, talk about his career path and the importance of internships. Next was Lauren Gray who provided some fantastic insight into her life as a PR student and intern.
This week, it’s Kelly Ahern from Rhode Island USA.
Kelly’s currently a blog and content manager at Astonish Results, a digital marketing firm, and she’s got some very interesting stuff to share about working in social media.
Along with a great interview, Kelly also had some writing advice for PR students:
“Content is certainly king, so up-and-coming PR pros should make sure their writing skills are in tip-top shape before entering the working world. Crafting messages is critical, whether it’s a Facebook status update, a tweet, an email marketing campaign or press release.”
Q1. First of all, let’s take a trip down memory lane. Discuss your career path.
Truthfully, my career has only just begun. I was one of the lucky ones who happened to land an incredible job shortly after graduation. I worked a temporary event management position with the American Cancer Society before arriving at Astonish Results, but content and social media have always been in my blood. I began guest blogging for Little Pink Blog (formerly Little Pink Book PR) just 2 months shy of getting my diploma, and quickly realized that digital content was the way to go.
Q2. You’re currently the Blog and Content Manager at a digital marketing firm; tell us about your role there.
My role at Astonish Results really includes a little bit of everything. Being that we are a digital marketing firm, we pride ourselves on being a comprehensive Internet marketing resource. I began doing a lot of blogging – literally the day I arrived – and immediately jumped into social media management via Facebook and Twitter.
My position has evolved into the company’s content guru, I suppose you could say. I write pretty much every piece of text needed for both Astonish and our hundreds of clients—from email marketing campaigns, press releases, landing pages, flash script and beyond—and all of it has to be genuine, keyword-rich content that is highly optimized for the search engines. I also assist with social media strategy calls and blogger consults.
Q3. How important do you think is blogging for a PR student? Do you think those who don’t have a blog are necessarily at a disadvantage?
Blogging is crucial. It provides PR students with an outlet in which they can brand themselves as an innovative professional. It wasn’t until my senior year of college, when my PR professor made us create a professional blog that I realized how important blogging was.
Even creating something as simple as a WordPress blog with links to your professional social media accounts, insight into your career goals and samples of your work can bring you dramatic results. Think of your blog as your personal online portfolio—promote it and stick the URL on your resume, trust me it helps!
Q3. Rank these from most to least important for you: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, Personal Blog.
1. Personal Blog
Q4. How did you go about networking and building relationships while you were still studying at uni?
It’s definitely hard to balance your need to network while also focusing on your studies—but what I found most helpful was finding ways that I could incorporate both. Attending guest speakers on campus, career fairs and participating in PR-related Twitter chats all allowed me to continue learning about the industry while also putting me into contact with PR pros and other PR students like me.
Q5. Having completed an internship while studying, do you think it’s essential that all PR students have some form of industry experience before graduating?
Absolutely. Internships are not only great resume boosters, but they allow you to see for yourself whether or not you really would enjoy working within a specific industry or atmosphere. For a while I thought I would want to work in radio promotions and entertainment PR, as great as my internship was, and as much as I learned; the experience also clued me into the fact that radio wasn’t where I was meant to be.
Interning also allows you to network and build up a professional database of credible professionals who may be able to either write you a recommendation or keep you in the loop about potential job openings—a total win-win.
Q6. And lastly, what’s the most important advice you can offer to a PR student?
The most important piece of advice I can offer PR students is to truly remain genuine. I’d have to say I never really met a PR student who wasn’t passionate about the industry, so let your enthusiasm and love for the career shine through. Soak up as much knowledge as you can and ask a ton of questions. Find someone who you can consider a mentor, someone who’s walked a similar path and has succeeded—their advice always tends to be the best. And never forget to have fun—you want to love your job and you career, so keep working and searching for that perfect opportunity, because it certainly is out there.