Interviewing a PR professional- Cheryl Smith

March 16, 2011 at 11:27 pm (Comm 2322 Topics of the Week)

I interviewed Cheryl Smith from New Oakland Child-Adolecent & family Center. It is a Michigan based comprehensive mental health facility that my Mom works at, and I was able to talk with Cheryl about her career working in PR/Marketing.  Cheryl graduated with a business degree from Central Michigan University in 1993 and has had an array of jobs before focusing on PR in 1998.


I learned quickly that Cheryl has a type “A” personality, and was able to get along with her great.  When I asked her what a typical work week was like she answered, “Building relationships and maintaining those relationships is the main focus of my job. I connect with targeted organizations, host “meet and greets” with our staff hosting meetings which is mostly physicians, schools, insurance companies, the court system, non-profit organizations, psychiatric facilities, etc.” She also prepares the displays for group events and trade shows.  One of the last responsibilities she mentioned was surprising to me, because I thought that it was usually one of the main duties of a PR professional. “I also plan and direct PR programs designed to create and maintain a favorable public image for my employer,” said Cheryl.


A project she particularly found to be rewarding involved the development of her company’s bi-monthly newsletter. The reason for this was because she was given freedom to decide what material she felt would make the biggest impact on her “target market” and it ended up being well received.


She stressed that keeping current with the PR field was extremely important, and she does that by researching the latest on the industry news every day so that she knows what the competition is up to.


One thing she wishes she would have known before getting into PR was getting in with the right company that has the potential for growth is an important key for success.


She said that writing is very important in PR, and I’ll be doing it constantly if I enter into this field. It is a large portion of her job responsibilities and if you struggle with writing, then learn quickly how to improve, because there are plenty of talented people out there who could take your place.


The internet has greatly changed the way PR is done. The information can be immediately shared with an enormous audience, which works in all in our favor. It also helps you to keep an eye on what the competition is doing.


When I asked for three tips she would give for someone (like me) who was interested in perusing a career in PR, Cheryl said, “Network to build positive relationships for your company, put your name out there and study people’s opinions. Understand everyone’s attitudes around you-your company, the consumer, and the community. Lastly, always be organized. Read everything you can about your industry so that you may never be surprised.”


Cheryl was so helpful in assuring that I certainly am going in the right field. This wasn’t her first career path, yet she says she enjoys going to work everyday. This is partly due to the company that is in a growing industry, and party due to her boss giving her the freedom to plan her own days to do what she thinks is needed.


She encouraged me to find an internship where I will have a well-rounded exposure to the PR field, and if I strike an interest in a specific field in PR to pursue furthering my education in that direction.



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