Career Review Presentation

After reading Leonard Mogel’s thorough novel on being successful in public relations and interviewing one of GSU’s own PR specialists, I have created a presentation that gives a brief overview of what PR professionals really do in the field.

To see my Prezi, click the following link:

The presentation gives a brief overview of typical jobs in public relations and the education required to enter the field. For more detailed information, explore my book review. For real-life information from a PR specialist here at GSU, check out my interview with LaTina Emerson.

I hope this presentation makes PR a bit easier to understand. Instead of getting caught up in Olivia Pope’s version of public relations, remember that PR professionals are communicators, just like us.



Interview Summary

Getting a Start in Public Relations

Last week, I had the pleasure of sitting down with LaTina Emerson, one of Georgia State’s Public Relations Specialists. Ms. Emerson composes articles and press releases that pertain to significant scientific research at the University, and she promotes the scholarly work that professors are publishing.  Ms. Emerson’s career, though impressive, was accidental. As an undergrad, Emerson studied Psychology and Pre-Med, but instead of going straight to medical school, she decided to pursue a M.F.A. in Screenwriting at Boston University. After a short stint writing about business for a newspaper in Georgia, Emerson took a position at the Augusta Chronicle as a business reporter. The struggle of writing about business in the recession prompted her to look into other options: thus began her career in PR.

After working in media relations for the Colleges of Dental Medicine and Nursing at Augusta College, Emerson found herself missing the bustle of a bigger city and took her current position at Georgia State. She enjoys what she does here at GSU because it allows her to combine her interest in scientific research and her love of writing. She has published numerous articles and press releases for the University, but her favorite story so far is “America’s Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic.” 

“It kind of took on a whole life of its own,” she reflects. The original story was supposed to focus on the work of GSU’s Dr. Eric Wright, but after researching the issue, Emerson discovered the inherent connection between prescription drug abuse and the heroin epidemic. “It just kind of snowballed into this bigger thing,” she remembers. This story, unlike other research articles that Emerson has published, allowed her to look outside of walls of Georgia State. The article features interviews with a former heroin and prescription drug user (now an addiction counselor), the founder and chief medical officer of the Atlanta Healing Center, and even a technical consultant to the Georgia Health Policy Center.

Rhetoric in Public Relations

As a writer, Emerson recognizes that audience awareness is crucial. “We always try to make sure that we’re reaching a general audience. . . I try to break down the language as much as possible.” Emerson writes research- and data-heavy articles for such a broad audience that it is crucial to make the content relatable and intriguing. In order to keep reporters and readers from glossing over the content, Emerson says “I have to make things understandable and interesting.”

In regards to the shift away from a linguistically dominated realm of composition, Emerson reflects on her own experience in working as a PR specialist. In recent months, GSU’s public relations department has been incorporating more videos and images into their stories and press releases. Emerson has experienced this firsthand; she’s learned through social  media that people like images and videos, but she’s hesitant to make a shift to a visually-dominant style of writing. She states that the writers and photographers/videographers are “. . . still trying to figure out what that balance [between visual and linguistic] is.”

Georgia State in the press

As we wrapped up the interview, Emerson showed me a few of pieces she has written that gained significant media presence. A number of her releases have done extremely well, including pieces on the history and implications of the Paleo Diet, food additives and their correlation to intestinal inflammation, and a release from a study promoting a four-day school week. These three releases have warranted impressive media coverage, and Ms. Emerson was kind enough to provide me with a list of the agencies that picked up each story. Media coverage for the Paleo Diet, food additives, and the four-day school week can be accessed below.

Media Coverage – Paleo Diet.docx

Media Coverage – Food Additive Study.docx

Media Coverage – Four-Day School Week (Mary Beth Walker)-3.docx

My interview with Ms. Emerson was intriguing and informational, and she provided me with a wealth of information on how public relations professionals operate in today’s ever-changing digital world. Her insight demonstrated how many opportunities are available for English majors, specifically those concentrating in Rhetoric and Composition.



Book Review

For my book review, I ventured into the world of Public Relations (PR) with Making It in Public Relations: An Insider’s Guide to Career Opportunities by Leonard Mogel. In this career guide, Mogel describes the responsibilities of a public relations professional and examines various case studies of PR  performed in the top PR firms. He speaks on the different practice branches of PR and profiles the top 10 largest PR firms. He also talks briefly about women in the PR world, interviews successful PR  professionals, and even provides information on how to get a job in PR.

The day-to-day responsibilities of someone working in PR varies by practice area and organization, but Mogel asserts that almost all PR professionals will deal with client placement and publicity. Generally, PR professionals spend a lot of their time making sure their clients’ (positive) information makes it to the right media outlet at the right time. They diffuse crises, compose press releases, write speeches, arrange press conferences, and can even act as the spokesperson for an organization. They use rhetoric daily to ensure that the public (audience) sees their client the way their client wishes to be seen.

Model takes his audience through major corporate crises to illustrate how PR is used today, and all of his case studies are so obviously tied to the use of rhetoric. In fact, he devotes a whole chapter to crisis management, and the information he provides is directly related to the use of rhetoric. He provides Hill & Knowlton’s () 10 “Rules of the Road” (Mogel 221) and 6 out of the 10 rules arguably deal with the appeals. Crisis management is a careful balance of ethos, pathos, and logos, and good crisis management can save (and even advance) a company.

I am proud to report that women comprise more than half of PR employees, but Mogel laments that women are not nearly as prominent in positions of leadership. Mogel cites multiple sources claiming that gender no longer plays a role in the hiring process for PR, and that there may be more qualified women than men entering the field.

If you’re interested in working in PR, you’ll need at least a Bachelor’s degree, preferably in a program that builds strong communication, writing, and analysis skills (like English, and especially Rhet/Comp). It is also extremely helpful to achieve membership in a professional organization, such as the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) or the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). These organizations not only shine on a résumé, they also provide members with development and networking opportunities.

Mogel specifically addresses salary, and most data suggest that the longer you work in PR, the more you’ll make. Salary depends heavily on the location and size of the firm, but the profession allows many opportunities for advancement for the motivated worker.

This book, while choppy and a bit difficult to follow, provided me with a solid foundation of PR knowledge. I’ve been focused on marketing as a career, but the information that Mogel provided has me rethinking my options.