Interview with a public relations practitioner

April 8, 2009

I logged on to PROpenMic to find a PR practitioner who was willing to give an interview about his/her job functions and experiences within the PR field.

Julia Pompa very quickly responded and volunteered to give an interview.

Julia Pompa is a public relations practitioner. She has been in public relations/marketing communications for more than 20 years and has also worked as a collage instructor for 6 years (part time). Today she works at Marketing Communications Agency – Lauerer Markin Group, Maumee, Ohio. Her LinkedIn profile:   

What is your educational background? Julia has a bachelor’s of science in Journalism. She is also an APR (accredited in public relations) through the Public Relations Society of America. Plus, she teaches a capstone course in Public Relations Practices at the University of Toledo (Ohio).

What is a typical week like? (If no week is typical, then what was last week like?) Juila said: “The beauty of a career in communications is that no week is the same as the one before”. She explained her week included development of communications recommendations for a prospective client, writing one news release and two feature stories, dealing with trade magazine media for two manufacturing clients, meeting with a client about a new television advertisement, making a public relations presentation to a prospective client and consulting on a potential crisis in a non-profit organization.

Which project are you especially proud of and why? Julia continued: “I’m proud of all the projects that help move the needle in achieving more public awareness and understanding of my clients’ positions”. However, she emphasized one particular project she worked on about eight years ago for the funeral industry. She developed a program for local funeral directors to implement locally – educating high school students to the dangers of drinking and driving. It started as a manual, one-on-one program and it still exists today in viral form.

How important is writing in your career? Julia said the writing issue is critical! She added: “If you were in my class, you’d know that I talk about writing skills almost every day”. She also emphasized that everything you do – from formal proposals to routine e-mails, involves a good comprehension of the written word and excellent persuasive capabilities.

What three tips would you offer someone just starting out in PR? Network (your local PRSA chapter) – make sure you’re a good writer (take additional training if necessary) – expand your capabilities to online communication

What do you do to keep current in the PR industry? Julia said: “My membership in PRSA gives me access to a great deal of good information”. Besides this, she is also involved with a wide range of online communications communities that expose her to many new technologies. She also takes classes when possible especially when she is a teacher she wants to stay up dated about what is going on in the industry.

Did your education prepare you for working in PR? How? Julia explained that since she got her degree in journalism she has taken a very serious approach to writing. This helped her both in her journalism career and in her public relations career.

What has surprised you the most about working in PR? The most surprising thing for Julia was the level of misunderstanding that exists about what public relations is and what it can do. She continued by adding:”I spend a good deal of my time with clients reinforcing that”.

What do you wish you would have known before starting your career in PR? Julia said she wished that she had known exactly how much she would love her job.

How has PR changed since you entered the field? She emphasized that the level of technology that is at our disposal today is dramatically different from what people imagined five years ago. The technology means that you have to be prepared to counsel and react on an instantaneous basis today. She explained that PR practitioners have to be skilled in many more technologies than ever before, so they can provide the most useful and cost-effective counsel possible to the clients.

When your company is hiring for an entry-level PR position, what makes a candidate stand out? A candidate’s writing ability will be the factor for awarding the position. Beyond that, overall maturity and an understanding of what happens in an agency environment, but also enthusiasm for the work of communications is important.

What professional organizations are you involved in? (For example, PRSA, IABC, etc.) She is a member of the PRSA – an APR and currently on the board of the Northwest Ohio chapter (previously its president). She was also a member of the Detroit chapter and in the national Counselors’ Academy of PRSA.





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