By Zabrina Hvostal
The room was full Wednesday night, Jan. 27, 2016, for PRSSA Kent’s first meeting of the semester ‘Where Do You Belong.’ Three professionals from agency, corporate and nonprofit came in for a discussion panel to help students decide what sector of PR they would like to work in.
Our representative from the corporate sector was Barb Barkley, Global Internal Communications Manager for The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Barkley has been with Goodyear for three years, and is currently responsible for managing Goodyear’s global communication channels including the GO News intranet site, digital signage and the company’s internal social network, Yammer. She previously managed internal communications for Goodyear’s 620 nationwide company-owned retail stores. Barb holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the State University of New York College at Brockport and a Masters degree in Public Relations from Kent State University.
Carli Cichocki, previous PRSSA Kent Officer and 2006 Kent State graduate in public relations, has an extensive background in non-profit public relations. Cichocki is a photographer and filmmaker based in Cleveland, Ohio. She works to tell thought provoking stories to connect and inspire people. She has worked for non-profits including the Cleveland Clinic and in Washington D.C. for Senator Sherrod Brown. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Photography from Syracuse University.
Allison Ewing has spent the last four years at an agency called True Digital Communications. From intern to associate and current digital communications specialist, she has learned all the ins and outs of all things in the digital world. Although she may not be a numbers gal, words come easily to her, which is why content creation, social media strategy and project management are in her wheelhouse.
Some of the questions the panel were asked include the following:
What makes your type of PR unique?
Barb: “By working in corporate PR and only working with one client, you really get to see the process. Working for one company for many years gives you a better understanding of your audiences and how to communicate to them. You really become an expert on the company from the inside and out. Corporate PR isn’t as limited as some people think it would be. Even though you technically are hired by one client you are working with a bunch of internal client as well.”
Allison: “When working in an agency everyday is different. You are juggling a bunch of different clients and their needs, what they need from you that day may vary. At True, all my coworkers have different specialties to help with clients’ needs. Our day is never the same, what I did today is completely different than what I’ll do tomorrow.”
Carli: “My favorite part of non-profit work is being able to help a cause. I am able to help organizations I care about. Personally, I am interested in social issues and women’s issues. You learn about your audiences and what they value and how they communicate and that is what makes your work matter.”
What are the most important skills someone in your profession must have?
Barb: “Writing and helping people tell their stories is critical. You have to be a good communicator and understand what channel you are writing for. Understand that listening is more important than talking.”
Allison: “If you are looking to work in agency, being able to juggle multiple clients is critical. You have to be open to learning and knowing everything about your clients. Having a positive attitude goes a long way.”
Carli: “Like Barb said writing is everything. But, you also have to be kind, have a good work ethic and be articulate. Something we never talked about in school, but I have learned the past 10 years is you need to have emotional control. Life gets messy, but you have to leave whatever is going on in your personal life at home. Being an emotional person can be a good thing for storytelling, but you still have to be able to have enough control over your emotions to keep your attention where it needs to be.”
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Barb: “The most challenging thing is getting everyone to communicate on the same level. There is a big difference in communication in each generation. It’s a challenge getting people of board with new social tools.”
Allison: “The most challenging part of the job for me is getting emotionally attached to my clients. I get very invested in them because I want them to do well.”
At the end of the meeting students were able to go up and introduce themselves to the professionals and ask any additional questions.