Sunday, October 18, 2009

PR Idea of the Week

This week I had the opportunity to speak to some Intro to PR students at our local Community College (Chevy Chase was not there. Darn.). The adjunct faculty member and I had worked together years ago doing B2B public relations. She asked me to share a little about my career path and how I had now landed in non-profit healthcare.

Since I have also been asked to be on a social media panel for another local university's PR students, I thought I would use my blog to share the differences between working in public relations/communications in high-tech B2B and non-profit healthcare.

Why you love to work there:
Healthcare- Small department moves quickly. Ideas discussed in the hallway in the morning are underway by the afternoon. Management is all local.
B2B - Challenge of taking high-tech jargon and turning it into compelling media pitches. Tech trade journalists and national business pages can be tough to crack--but very exciting when you do.

Your biggest frustration on the job:
Healthcare - Highly competitive industry + Highly local industry = Highly personal issues
B2B - Endless, soul-sucking approval processes.

When you arrive at the office at 7:15 a.m...
Healthcare -You are already late for your 7 a.m. meeting.
B2B - You get a SWEET parking spot and a few hours to work before your colleagues on the West Coast start sending e-mails.

Team meetings include:
Healthcare - Sitting around the table with your team, interrupted by the paging of code blue--a reminder that life and death are part of your business.
B2B - Joining a conference call with your colleagues in three states and two countries. Have to stop typing e-mails and take phone off mute when ready for your report.

Perks of the job:
Healthcare - Good benefits. On-site pharmacy, chapel, gift shop, cafeteria.
B2B - Expense account. As many logo shirts as you can fit in your closet.

Access to your organization's customers and influencers:
Healthcare - Two floors down in surgery. Sitting at the table next to you in the cafeteria.
B2B - Industry conferences and trade shows. Expensive focus groups.

Colleagues from other parts of the business rush around...
Healthcare - Saving lives. Referring to folded up pieces of paper jammed in their lab coats.
B2B - Grabbing a quick break between conference calls. Clutching their BlackBerry in case something comes in while they are away from their desk.

Students, know that geography, interesting challenges, connections and plain dumb luck will play a heavy part in determining what industry you end up in.

Whether you're working for Disney or the local sanitation department, PR is all about identifying and connecting with your target audiences. My advice to students is to build your skillset and look for opportunities to do the interesting, innovative PR projects that drive you.

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