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.
We have all told a lie.
“No, I didn’t eat the last cookie, I only had one!”
“Yes I’m fine, I’m just tired.”
“Seriously I didn’t do it!”
We all can admit it and that’s okay. Little white lies have always been a part of our lives but as future public relations practitioners, we have to stray away from the bad habit.
Public relations and ethics go hand-in-hand. PR ethics are the “standards of conduct that indicate how one should behave based on moral duties and virtues.” In other words, PR practitioners should behave ethically or “correctly” toward the public/clients. Most importantly, and included in the ethics of PR, is to NEVER lie. Lying can badly bruise the company with which you are involved in and forever scar your reputation.
“So how do we know if we are being ethical or not?”
Great question! Fortunately for PR professionals, there are a list of “rules,” so to speak, that can be followed. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) created a list of codes, called the PRSA Code of Ethics, in which “members pledge to core values, principles and practice guidelines that define their professionalism and advance their success.” However you don’t have to be a member to follow the codes. The document includes five core ethical values that must followed in order to be ethical, according to their standards. These are advocacy, honesty, expertise, independence, loyalty, and fairness. These codes are the core of how to behave ethically. There are others that could be included and that is your personal choice to make.
Ethics of the world are always changing but we can be certain that our stand on lying will never change. We all hate being lied to, it even may break someone’s heart. Lying in PR will break bonds, relationships, and maybe even some hearts in the business world. It is important to remember the five values and cherish them, for they are the key to being successful in public relations.
Public relations has come a long way in the past 100 years. PR is no longer an “in case of emergency” agency. Now PR is one of the best business fields in the world. Every organization or corporation needs a PR firm and without one, they may as well have a sinking ship and hole in their lifeboat. But what makes public relations so valuable to a company?
According to PRSA, the definition of public relations is “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” In PR the only way to build relations with organizations and public, or audiences, is to do research. Research? What? That’s not in the definition. Think of it this way: you are on a first date and you ask him/her questions about himself/herself in order to get to know them better. Even though it doesn’t seem like it, that is research. Research is the key to building relationships in PR.
Researching allows PR professionals to know more about and understand their clients, future clients, and target audiences. To be beneficial to an organization, PR must research virtually everything that has to do with the product a business is trying to sell and what the public wants from the business. Let’s say a new business has started that sells cotton candy in the shape of flowers and animals. Of course they have been gearing their advertising toward children, but their marketing department made the ads have small amount of adult humor, so parents would feel more inclined to buy their children the shaped sugar. Unfortunately the ads failed and some reviews called the business out about the adult humor. The business went to a public relations firm for help. The PR firm researched what ages 3-10 typically watch on television, what interests them, how many children like cotton candy, and so on. The firm then relayed the information back to the new business so they could make their new ads acceptable to the age group they are trying to sell to. The public relations firm’s research saved the new business.
Without proper research it would be nearly impossible to build relationships in business or regain the interest of publics.
LinkedIn is a professional network that connects individuals in the business world from bakers to billionaires. There are currently more than 300 million members using the site today. However, having a multitude of members doesn’t make a social media site productive or significant. The question, “is LinkedIn a useful tool for professional development?”
There are good and bad qualities to LinkedIn. The main quality that stands above the rest is the networking. A member can meet anyone from any state or country and connect with them. This can build great business relationships and connect with others for future career options. In addition, LinkedIn is primarily used to promote professionalism. There isn’t constant advertisements and pop-ups, there aren’t any videos of cats, and there are no people explaining how awesome their lunch was that day. It was invented purely for those who want to connect with business professionals and create interest in themselves or their business to others. Also members can join groups and build additional relationships based on shared interests.
Though few, there are negative qualities to LinkedIn. A source from chempetitive.com used LinkedIn for her company and brought forth a valid point about the site: you are connecting with strangers. Yes, there are people you may personally know, but many connections made are with people who have never met. This is not necessarily bad, but it could be. However in a professional light, these “strangers” could be potential employers, co-workers, or business partners. The privacy of LinkedIn can be both good and bad. Making an account private keeps members safe but also may drive other professionals away from viewing you as a prospective source.
LinkedIn is the most popular professional website on the market today. The connections made from the site can be a useful tool for anyone, including a sophomore in college.