Jeff Carter
Life is a riddle; unfortunately the answer's are not written here.

PR Interview

I recently conducted an interview with Mr. Paul Floeckher. Currently Floeckher is the Manager of Media Relations for Georgia Southern University. Floeckher graduated from Georgia Southern back in 1991. I was referred to him by my adviser, Michelle Groover, as good PR professional to speak with. Here is the interview that took place.

What’s a typical week like?

It’s hard to describe a week as “typical,” since something unexpected always arises at some point during the week. I know what you mean with this question, though, and my job every week is to generate media coverage of Georgia Southern University. I need to get Georgia Southern’s story told – period. It’s that simple. I do that through writing and distributing press releases, contacting media outlets and pitching stories to them, updating the content on Georgia Southern’s website (including a daily story idea for the media) and writing stories for Georgia Southern Magazine.

Tell me about a project you worked on that you are especially proud of.

Last year I wrote a press release and magazine article about the ProVector, a device Georgia Southern professor Tom Kollars invented to help reduce deaths from mosquito-borne illnesses. (Here’s a link – http://news.georgiasouthern.edu/pressrelease.php?id=1778.) The story was picked up by some local media, then by the Associated Press. Once AP picked up the story, it went national. Newspapers around the country ran it, and the story also aired on CNN and the Discovery Channel. I was glad that a story I wrote and pitched to media brought national attention to Georgia Southern. Also, Dr. Kollars is a great guy who truly wants to save lives with his invention; I have thoroughly enjoyed working with him on the story and getting to know him.

What do you do to keep current in the PR industry?

I participate in a number of continuing education courses, training sessions, webinars, etc., on a variety of subjects related to my field.

What do you wish you would have known before starting your career in PR?

That there’s a lot more to PR than writing press releases. My job involves a lot of marketing, which I didn’t have much background in. I have had to learn that on-the-job. My career has been primarily in the news business (five years as a newspaper reporter, 11 years as a television reporter).

How important is writing in your career?

Incredibly important, since I won’t have any credibility with the media if I send poorly-written press releases. When I pitch a story idea to the media, I need to phrase it in a way that will get them interested in covering the story and make them see why their audience would care about the story. I worked for the school newspaper in high school and in college, and my first three jobs after college graduation were in the newspaper business; all that writing experience was a great benefit in my television career and then once I shifted my career focus to PR.

What three tips would you offer someone just starting out in PR?

1)      Work to become a great writer

2)      Don’t go into PR because you think you’re a “people person” (unless maybe you want to use your PR background to plan parties and events, which is fine). My success on my job has very little to do with how much I like people – it’s about pitching stories in the best way possible to get media interested in covering them.

3)      Do this because you love it. The money may not be great for your first couple jobs (or, for that matter, your entire career), but work in this field because it’s something you truly enjoy. If you don’t love it, then pursue another career – just find your passion.

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