Archive for the ‘Public Relations’ Category

On October 28, 2011, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brandt Merritt. Brandt Merritt works at Southeastern University in their Enrollment Marketing department. Although he has been employed in this position for only nine months, he still had some helpful hints for aspiring public relations professionals.

Me: What is a typical week like for you?

Merritt: I am involved in social media, so for me it’s a lot of promoting the university on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. For us, it’s a little more marketing opposed to PR, so there’s always publications that we’re working on like the financial aid brochures. I write most of the content for the publications, whether it’s writing a blurb or a story about something that happened on campus. I guess it’s not set week to week. We work on different projects as they come and go.

Me: Tell me about a project that you worked on recently that you’re especially proud of.

Merritt: The biggest one this year was probably what we call the Viewbook. It’s the bigger publication that prospective students get in the mail, and the one we did this year was about 24 pages. Previously there was an outside company that helped us with these things, but this year we had to start from scratch, so all the content and wording I had to come up with on my own. It took weeks to get it all done. Well also incorporated QR codes into the Viewbook. When you can it, it takes it to a video of some professors and students just talking about Southeastern. It turned out really good.

Me: What do you do to keep current in the industry?

Merritt: I read a lot of other people’s material, and Twitter is great to keep up with different people. Just following trend setters is a great way to do it.

Me: What do you wish you would have known before starting your career?

Merritt: I was actually a journalist before starting this position and when I had just graduated college, social media was not as big. So it’s not like we had an whole lot of preparation in college for how you could use it professionally. In this field social media is big when trying to connect to both perspective and current student, and I quickly figured this out. if I had a base knowledge of this going in, it would’ve been helpful.

Me: How important is writing in your career?

Merritt: Pretty important. Communicating is a huge part of what everyone is doing know, and everyone can do it. You can get a blog, start a website, or get on Facebook, but being able to present ideas and thoughts clearly and without being too wordy is just very important. It takes time to develop, and it’s necessary. I don’t think there ever not gonna be a need for not being able to write well. Obviously in this position if you can’t write well, you can’t be in it.

Me: What are three tips you would offer someone just starting out in Public Relations?

Merritt: Be humble, because you are kinda providing a service for somebody. Not all your ideas that you present are going to be accepted, and you can’t get bent out of shape if someone doesn’t think as highly of your work as you do. Another thing is just to get as much experience as you can. Nowadays people don’t pay for internships as much as they did, but even if you get an unpaid internship, take the opportunity to get the experience because that’s really what matters. Degrees are important, but it’s really the experience and work examples that matter in these kind of fields. The third one, just read. Read others peoples examples, and there’s always something to learn.

Me: What has surprised you most about working in your position?

Merritt: I think I have a different take coming from newspapers. It’s not really surprising in someways because I knew it was tough, but deadline pressure is constant. It doesn’t really end. And you have to be able to work well under that pressure.

Me: How does technology affect your daily work?

Merritt: It’s everything. And it’s always changing is the tough thing. You can never get settled into what you’re using. We use the Adobe Creative Suite and every year there’s always a new edition. You have to be able to adapt, because the new one’s are better than the one before.

You can find out more or connect with Brandt Merritt here.

-cw

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