On March 4, 2016, Sacramento Public Relations Association (SPRA) held their annual Networking and Career Day where students from the Sacramento area had the chance to visit several public relations agencies to get an “inside look”.
There was a diverse mix of students from Sacramento State, UC Davis, and University of the Pacific. Some students knew each other through PRSSA; others were unfamiliar with one another. Although there were new faces, all the students were welcoming and actively conversing with one another about their passion for public relations.
For the Networking and Career Day event, students were separated into two different groups because there was a total of 33 other students waiting to tour these awesome PR agencies. There was Group A and B. In Group A, they got the opportunity to tour Good Day Sacramento, Randle Communications, FSB Core Strategies and Visit California. I had the luxury of participating in Group B.
In Group B, we toured the Sacramento Business Journal, KP Public Affairs, APCO, Sacramento Kings “Experience Center” and Crocker & Crocker. Each agency differed immensely with their size, specialty and style. Students had the chance to network with employees, ask questions, submit resumes and learn more about each company.
Sacramento Business Journal (SBJ) publishes news both in print and digital form. Students learned more about the tactics of news writing, and the “dos” and “don’ts” as a PR professional when interacting with reporters. Christopher Arns, managing editor for Digital News, believes that “Great PR professionals anticipate the questions reporters will ask.” Several other employees within the SBJ also believed that PR professionals should create organized game plans, provide help without being overbearing and focus on where/who you’re sending information to so that you can make each interaction personal.
KP Public Affairs, our second stop, was a public relations and lobbying firm that is very well known in the Sacramento area. Laura Murrell, our tour guide from the event is currently an employee there, so she was able to give us some great tips along with her colleagues Patrick George and Emily Lynn Smith. Patrick George, media relations director, advised students to “read the news, look at writing style/structure and work for the school newspaper.” Students received information about the agency as well as career advice, and tips on how to set us apart from the rest.
Next up was APCO, a global communication and business consulting firm that focuses on solving issues within companies. Their firm employs individuals that are able to work independently and in teams and people who are genuinely passionate about their work. Jillian Hacker, Associate Director, believes that in order to be successful as a PR professional, one needs to know “how to talk to people, how to treat people, how to have a good sense of humor and how to have good judgment.” At APCO we learned that public relations is more than just knowing how to solve problems.
Our next stop was a surprise that we learned about the day of the event: The Sacramento Kings “Experience Center.” The Experience Center is a place where valued fans and potential prospects are invited to view the Kings’ memorabilia, have dinner and a drink while viewing the new features of the downtown arena, which is expected to open October 2016. John Jacobs, director of public relations, believes that he is working on something bigger than basketball. His schedule is consistently busy while contacting important clients and holding press conferences. John believes that we should all “find what (we) love and do what (we) love.” In this tour, we learned that perfecting PR skills such as writing and branding are crucial to succeeding in the industry.
Last, but not least, we toured Crocker & Crocker, a small agency that specializes in controversial issues. Lucy Crocker, president, shared the day-to-day duties of her agency and described examples of some of the issues they work with. Erin Stafford also joined the conversation and shared her experience in the industry, and how her previous jobs directed her to the current position at Crocker & Crocker. She sympathized with the fact that some students are still confused about exactly which route they want to take in their PR career and said, “Part of learning what you want to do is learning what you don’t want to do.” She advised us to work in different areas and learn important skills even if we don’t want to pursue that particular job because it will be a great learning experience nonetheless.
Throughout this event, students were able to experience these agencies first hand and gain an abundant amount of knowledge from some of the top professionals in Sacramento. Patrick George from KP Public Affairs was impressed with the students who attended the event, and applauded them for taking the time and effort to network and learn about the industry. Students learned about agencies by personally visiting and networking with the PR employees individually. They were also able to make connections among their own colleagues and exchange information with other students who will most likely meet again; whether it’s on LinkedIn or potentially working for the same company someday.
The chance to have face-to-face conversations with PR professionals and soon-to-be PR employees is priceless, and the experience will benefit students in their career with the knowledge they received from the event. For more information about SPRA and upcoming events, visit http://spra.org.