Q: Tell us about your current career outside of being an adjunct faculty member at Columbia College.
A: I’m currently running my own company, PitchPoint Public Relations that supports clients big and small with PR and creative support. I also work with many of Chicago’s larger PR agencies as a freelancer, including: krispr, Golin Harris, Zeno Group, Zóalo Group, JSH&A, TeamOne Advertising and others.
Q: What was your first “real-world” job?
A: My first “real-world” job was working for Edelman Public Relations as a paid intern. I worked late nights and asked for more assignments so I could gain as much experience as I could, eventually they hired me. I spent five years with Edelman before moving on to Ketchum where I worked for two years. Then in 2006 I went off on my own. My focus has always been in consumer PR but has since grown to include non-profit, startups and B2B. Before that I interned at Second City Chicago’s business theater where I learned how to write engaging content for clients that I still incorporate to this day.
Q: What are 1-3 professional accomplishments that you’ve achieved over the years?
A: Professional accomplishments include writing one of PR Newswire’s most successful news releases ever distributed over the wire. It was titled, “The Most Amazing Press Release Ever Written,” and I developed it as a way to generate new business for my company. Little did I know it would become a viral sensation, including coverage in the Huffington Post, CNBC, TechCrunch, and retweets from David Pogue of the New York Times and actress Alyssa Milano. Other accomplishments include successfully launching AXE Deodorant bodyspray, a brand new category for North America in its day. The AXE program garnered a Silver Anvil Award and tons of new revenue for Unilever. Another accomplishment of note was securing national coverage and more than a half million dollars in donations for non-profit client Run7on7.com (now Runwell.com).Q: What drives your professional career?
A: The creative process of public relations has always excited me. I enjoy developing and executing ideas that get people talking, sharing and engaged. It’s a challenge in today’s cluttered landscape but I love it.
Q: Three pieces of advice that would be helpful to any student.
A: 1. Secure an internship with an agency or on the client side and take on as much work as you can. Ask a lot of questions, speak up at brainstorms and offer to help with new business pitches. 2. Write, write and write some more. There’s always room for improvement and the only way to improve is to keep flexing that muscle. You’ll learn fast that there’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen who will edit your work and mark up your pages with track-changes and ink…but don’t take it personally, instead, learn from it. 3. Don’t forget you’re a reader, a consumer, a person other PR specialists are trying to target…so always ask yourself, “Would I be interested in what I’m saying, recommending?” If not, chances are your target won’t either. I’d like to add a fourth: Have fun. At the end of they day we’re often pitching things like potato chips and Q-Tips…so have fun with your clients and their brands.