Today, I interviewed Emily Meade, Vice President of the Student Chapter of FPRA (Florida Public Relations Association) Dick Pope/Polk County Chapter. She has been a member of the Chapter for two years, and this past year became the Vice President, coordinating meetings, becoming involved in PR events, and networking with PR professionals who are also part of the Association. Her initial goal in coming to school was to become a graphic designer, however, after learning what PR actually is, her major shifted and she realized that public relations was something she was also very passionate about. “There is so much more to PR than just creating an image or hiding behind something” she said. “It’s very hard to define PR, and when people ask me what my major is, I often don’t know what to tell them. There’s just so much that goes into it.”
Q: What does PR mean to you?
A: I didn’t know I was going to be in this field. My passion is the event-side planning and I eventually want to do event/wedding planning. The goal of FPRA is to better everyone’s PR and to also bring ethics and honesty into the field.
Q: If you could sum up what you do in PR in one word, what would that be?
A: Networking, networking, networking! Yes, it helps to have the skills and the knowledge, but you can’t do everything by yourself. It really is who you know.
Q: What does being a member of FPRA actually mean?
A: Well, we meet in once a month to discuss PR business, and to share ideas with each other. As students, we are also encouraged to participate with the professionals and even are involved in the events.l, there is a student chapter and a professional chapter. Professionals all come together once a month to talk about what they’re do
Q: Such as?
A: Well, this Saturday I am going to be helping in the sun and Fun aviation media relations tent. When people come to the Sun and Fun, they aren’t thinking about the media tent. They are focused on the event because they’re excited, and that’s how it should be. We are the people in the background who help make everything come together.
Q: What kinds of things do you talk about in meetings?
A: A professional firm in Downtown Lakeland was represented the other night. Lorrie Walker talked about social media and how it is a tool she uses. This week, a speaker Kathy Lovin is coming, via request from Barbara Nixon, to speak and she blogs for a nonprofit organization.
Q: How many connections have you made through the FPR Association?
A: A LOT. 15 direct contacts that I can think of right now. Volunteering for these events has opened my eyes to everything that is involved in PR. Even in a business, you’re going to need it. Often times, I think people think of PR as one of those things that you don’t really need, but it’s so important. Because of social media and the brutal honesty of people, PR has to pull together with the negative feedback.
Q: When you start your event planning business, what are some of the things you are going to use to make it successful and to maintain good PR?
A: Definitely social media for getting the word out there about it. I have a blog right now and it’s called “PRetty in Pink”, my Pinterest is full of ideas I have and the styles I like to put together. I will obviously have a website showing pictures of the events I have done in the past to give the client an idea of who they will be working with, and I plan to start a new blog solely dedicated to the wedding planning business.
After meeting with Emily, I couldn’t help but be inspired. She is surrounded by professionals, has a phone full of contacts, and is in the midst of something she loves. Her passion and pursuit of PR has made her a better candidate, and while she is still in college, she is on a professional level as well. Something that she said really struck me.
“Pr has to pull together with the negative feedback we sometimes receive, because you have to address the issues.”
Silence is never an okay response. When something happens, good or bad, it can’t be left to dangle. That is the worst form of PR.
For example, Meade mentioned the Taco Bell incident when there was an accusation about their meat, they responded by giving away free tacos. They did something about it to make the customers truly happy again.
You can’t force someone to like you. You definitely can’t force someone to pay for a service. It has to be something they want to do. PR is a tough business of trying to keep the public happy. It’s a hard role to fill, and it is always changing. Competition from other businesses, audience taste changes, ethical issues, and money make public relations a harder area to deal with because it is always changing. They are fighting for the impossible: everyone to be happy. But, this job has to be done. There are so many tiny details that are not seen by the average eye, but make all the difference in the world.
A Hollywood star is the person who is in the spotlight. Not their make-up artist, their hair stylist, their life coach, or their acting coach. They are helping with PR. PR transcends into every aspect of our lives, not just media.