I was given an assignment to interview a professional in the communication field. The purpose of the interview was to gain firsthand, insightful information on what goes on in the professional world after college. During a job shadow at Element Advertising in Asheville, NC, I asked Kim McCarl, the agency’s public relations strategist/account director, if she would be interested in an interview. She gladly obliged and welcomed my questions with a smile.
Kim received a Bachelor of Science in public relations from Northern Arizona University. She is also accredited in public relations (APR) by the Public Relations Society of America. She has over 20 years of PR, strategic marketing and public affairs experience in the communication field. Her responsibilities at the agency, aside from being Element’s PR strategist and account director, include client management, project management and media relations. She also commonly finds herself writing PR plans for clients. Every work day and project is different, so a professional never knows exactly what to expect. However, generally, Kim’s daily tasks include interfacing with clients, outreaching and networking with publications and overall, making positive connections with people. A so-called typical day for her at Element consists of emailing, researching, reading and interacting with clients. Kim also said: “My day is all about communication, integration and project management.”
Kim said every professional needs to comply with the Code of Ethics set by PRSA. She also said people in the PR profession must always remember to be truthful and open with clients. In addition, when working with clients, the professional must prepare the client for any PR situations, such as what questions may be asked, key messages and overall, how to communicate with the press to ensure the client gets fair and accurate coverage.
Kim said in order to succeed in the industry, there are certain skills rising professionals must possess for a job in communications, particularly one concentrating on public relations. According to Kim, the skills needed to become a successful professional include: good written, oral, project management, strategic, analytic and interpersonal skills along with a working knowledge of the Associated Press Style Book. Also, as a professional, you must “read a lot – know what is going on in the world either locally or internationally because it is your job to be, and stay, informed.” She recommended PR professionals to undergo the process to become accredited by PRSA: “I found the APR process to be very valuable.” She also said to keep in mind that “there is a strategy and art involved in PR.”
My interview with Kim was a very positive experience. Thanks to her expertise and years of experience in the field, I now have a better grasp of what to expect after graduation. This interview assignment ended up being very beneficial because I know I will be able to use this newly found knowledge throughout my future career as a PR professional.