I believe that everyone has their own “super power.” The talent or passion you possess is your super power. You may be good at speaking, dancing, painting, listening, cooking, sports… the list goes on. I was fortunate enough to talk to someone whose super powers made her, undeniably, a super hero. Through her voice I could hear a passion I have never had the privilege to experienced before. So what is her super power? Public relations.
Carrie Hoppenjans graduated from Indiana State University in 2001 and has since worked for 6 different companies. Currently, Carrie is the Corporate Events Manager at Wabash National, the leading manufacturer of semi-trailers in America. Since the business is located in Lafayette, I could not personally meet with Carrie so we conversed over the phone. One of my (MANY) cousins also works at Wabash National, and was able to give Carrie’s contact information to me after her consent. I was very grateful for the opportunity to talk to her and I was overwhelmed with information about the PR world. Here is the interview:
Question 1: What’s a typical week like?
“Crazy! So a typical week is very busy. I do not do the same thing every week at all. When I worked in nonprofit it was a little more predictable. For profit is fast paced and things change every day. The hours are typical but I often stay late and I come in early a lot. My job is all day all the time. I have a lot of face-to-face conversations, I run into a lot of people then I’m running off to the next thing.”
Question 2: What is a project you are especially proud of that you did?
“In my current role, I went to a big trade show and it is a project worth mentioning. It brings in different businesses, business with our own units. We had a huge booth – 20 ft by 140 ft – we had big rigs! There was a lot of preparation that went into it. We ad to get equipment, order things, and get all the workers together. Afterwards I stood there looking around and thought, ‘Wow, we did it!'”
Question 3:What do you do to keep current in the PR industry?
“I read blogs and follow different people online and I follow groups. There is a PRSA type group in Indy I follow. I stay current in the groups I am involved in.”
What do you do wish you would have known before starting your career in PR?
“It’s not a 5-8 world anymore. There are expectations that are like an unwritten rule. We work a lot, its an all day long job. Its changed as I have progressed in my career. I am always thinking, planning, and looking at the calender to even check how to dress that day!”
Question 5: How important is writing in your career?
“Definitely important. I do on staff edits, I write, really I do many different things, all in AP style. My writing has to be clean. The classes I took in college are so important. I have to make sure its written correctly in every job. When I worked for the Indiana Historical Society I had many different roles in writing.”
Question 6: What three tips would you offer someone just starting out in PR?
“In PR, you always have to have your antenna up! When I say that I mean you have to be on your game, always thinking ‘what’s the next thing?’ Think of relationship management: in the workplace it is important. On a daily basis I am managing my relationships; relationships building is important. Always keep relationships in mind. Always, constantly, be networking. Connections are important.”
Question 7: What professional organizations are you involved in?
“PRSA only. I do go to group event focuses in Indianapolis when it pertains to me, but I’m not a paid member of these groups.”
Question 8: Did your education prepare you for working in PR?
“Definitely. Even back to PR classes at ISU. When I was a junior I went to work at the Indianapolis Zoo and became an intern for marketing. After I graduated they brought me on full time! Educations has played so many roles.”
Carrie was definitely a wonderful person to talk about PR with! I was so amazed at how much she did for the company, but also how passionate she was about her line of work. I realized how stressful it can be but also how rewarding it can be.
To see Carrie’s success, visit her LinkedIn page.