Going into the professional world of public relations, it was our assignment for class that we interview a PR professional. From this, we were to hopefully gain some insight about life in the field, and how the professional’s background helped get them where they need to be today.
I was so fortunate to interview the lovely Patty Cooper who works in the Communications Department for the American Cancer Society. I was connected to Ms. Cooper by my cousin, Ashley Haseltine, who volunteers in a separate department of ACS. Ms. Cooper actually started out in another division of the ACS, but was offered a different position that has opened new doors for her.
When I first asked her about a typical week at work she told me it depended on the event. Daffodil days, their most recent project, they sent out a couple of photos saying that the volunteers have come and helped them out. With any event they usually send out photos, advisories, press releases, and media kits. Everyday, you’re checking to see if there is any coverage, or picked up a story.
The event she’s most proud of:
The Volunteer Award Dinner. Created certificates, honored the children with goody bags, and introduced those who participant. The event was brand new last year. “That’s what it’s all about, and they have a lot of young people that raise a lot of money, in memory of their grandparents.” They were commemorating their hard work.
To keep current, look at the papers every morning. They have a database for ACS, where anything related to ACS and cancer related comes through. It makes Ms. Cooper’s job a little easier.
She wishes she would have taken more photography courses. You can’t just go and start snapping pictures, you have to wait for the right moment, that right look on someone’s face.
Writing is very important, and luckily it is something she likes to do. you have to know how to express yourself. A lot of coworkers come to her for editing.
Two tips she finds beneficial in the PR/Communications field: Be hands-on as much as you can. Also, internship, get out there and scatter yourself. The experience is key.
I asked Ms. Cooper what she likes most about her company. After short hesitation, she explained she likes how they help people in whatever way they want. In a specific example, she shared with me about her two volunteers. She requested help with the busy season and a lot on her plate. One was an extremely shy young man. When he was asked to make phone calls, he was so shy he needed to be in a secluded room with the door shut. After about a month of being a round such a great group of people with the biggest hearts and welcoming arms, he is no longer as secluded. He even mentioned to Patty how the ACS has helped him open up.
I find it so great that there are companies out there that not only spend their time volunteering to those externally, but want to bring things to those internally. This interview has reinforced my desires to work in the PR field. I know that helping people for the greater good is what I am supposed to do. And since I love working with people, meeting new people, and helping them, public relations is the right path for me!