Advice from a PR Pro

The best way to get on the right track is to find a mentor. Everyone needs a little advice, criticisms/praises, and help along the way. Thankfully, I have found a great mentor already.
Joseph Tateoka is an Account Executive at Ruder Finn in Chicago. I met him on the networking trip with my Ohio University PRSSA chapter in March and have kept in touch with him since. We planned to met for lunch and coincidentally, his office was holding a meeting titled "How to make the most of your internship" the same morning. Joseph was kind enough to ask Adrienne McGarr, the Vice President of RF in Chicago, if I could attend the presentation. So last Wednesday, I caught the 9:04 train to Union Station and was in the office to take my two pages of notes on what they want in their interns.
This is the information that I found most useful:
  • Volunteer--ask to help and offer proactive ideas
  • "Don't know? Just Ask"--no one expects interns to know everything, but RF says their interns should want to know everything
  • "Learn to manage your time"--know your priorities; when you have a lot on your plate, go to your manager (boss) and tell them "these are my priorities; what do you think?" This might help make that plate a little lighter--once they know you are swamped, they may tend to give you later deadlines or take something completely off your to-do
  • "Fail Gracefully"--everyone makes mistakes and if you do, first admit to it and then tell your boss/team how you think you can fix it
  • Have FUN!
At the end of the presentation, Adrienne McGarr added some "last minute tips," which were interesting and now, have found myself doing:
  • "Always be the last to respond in an e-mail chain." For example, if you are talking with a client over e-mails and the last e-mail that he/she sends is not something you need to respond (such as no questions/corrections), you should still respond with at least a conformation or a conclusion so they know that you received their message.
  • "Respond to e-mails within a day--or least by the end of the day before you leave work." I know this may be time consuming, but if a client e-mails you and even though you might not know the answer by the end of the day, at least respond back saying you will get back to them with their answers soon; this way, (again) they'll know you received their message.
  • "Think of your manager as your 1st client." Your manager is your top priority; as a result, hand in project on-time, accept projects with a good attitude, and check-in even if assignment is not due for awhile.
After all the information from the presentation that I consumed, I still had to go to lunch with Joseph Tateoka. Much of the talk from our lunch consisted of our busy schedules and his advice for a PR college career.

The one thing that I remember us talking about was this blog. Apparently RF was impressed that I had kept a blog, which gave me momentum to keep posting to it.

PR is an around-the-clock job, I understand that. However, Joseph reiterated the fact that he can always be reached by his coworkers 24/7 (only if needed), and the amount of contact outside the office depends on the person. For Joseph, he is not constantly on his phone, but he is considering getting a Blackberry for its e-mail access. On the other hand, he mentioned that some coworkers can be reached 24/7 no matter where they are, what they are doing, or how small the problem--they have that reputation. The job sometimes requires it of course when you have international clients that are on the opposite time schedule as you.

Joseph also mentioned that PRSSA and PRSA are two a great organizations for the PR world, and every PR student should utilize its resources--he found some of his closest friends in Chicago from networking with PRSA.

"Volunteer and take every PR opportunity you can." Joseph regrets not accepting a PR offer in college. He suggests that as a student, I should get involved as much as possible to gain experience (it's also a great resume builder).

I asked about the internship program at RF of course--it is a great program (unpaid unfortunity, but at OU, students need internship credit). I even met a few of the interns before lunch and Ruder Finn defiantly gives their interns a good experience--they do hands-on work everyday for real clients (keep in mind, their top client is their manager).

I also learned the best restaurant to find French crepes, right next door to RF off East Ontario Street called Momis Cafe.

By one o'clock, I was full of advice and my delicious lunch. Of course, there is always room for more. Comment on here or send me an e-mail--I love feedback. Thanks for reading!

(Compliments of picture from Ruder Finn Web site)