Newly Hired: Sienna Badura

One of our new team members, Sienna Badura, graduated from the College of Charleston in May and started working as a production assistant at The Fearey Group in June.

Sienna
Photo credit: Natasha Perkins

We recently sat down with Sienna to find out more about her background and interests, and about her recent transition from East Coast to West Coast, college to career.

How has your education and experience helped you so far at The Fearey Group?

The College of Charleston’s communication department focused on making sure students could think critically, research effectively, speak eloquently and write beautifully. This background has made my transition smoother than it would have been otherwise.

What appeals to you about public relations?

I like learning something new every day, whether it is doing research for a client or talking to new people. As I build these relationships I get to learn new things. 

As a recent transplant from South Carolina, what do you think of Seattle?

So far, so good. I have come to expect the five minutes of teasing that comes whenever I let a “y’all” slip.

Although relatively new to Seattle, Sienna is already a Seahawks fan (by way of Virginia Tech). Photo credit: Rachel Taylor
Although new to Seattle, Sienna is already a Seahawks fan. Photo credit: Rachel Taylor

Also, civic engagement is very different here, and that is something that I have to pay attention to, especially in PR. The people who live here care about different issues and how they communicate them is very different as well.

Is working at a PR agency different from what you expected?

It is, and it isn’t. I was lucky enough to intern at an agency in college, but the scope of work was more focused on marketing and integrated communications. So it has been great to really get to focus on PR and learn a lot about that.

Welcome to The Fearey Group, Sienna!

From the Desk of a PR Intern …Week Three

Fearey Group Sign Pic…a blog series by Caleb Kruse

This is my third week as an intern at The Fearey Group. Coming into this internship, I was a little uneasy that I was about to join a very prestigious public relations firm in Seattle when I came from a marketing background. I majored in marketing during my undergraduate career, which perhaps gives me an alternative lens to view the world of public relations. As an introduction this week, I will seek to “connect the dots” between the world of marketing and PR in order to use my foundation as an advantage.

In these first three weeks at The Fearey Group, I hit the ground running. I have been put on a variety of projects from the task of media clipping and tracking to event coordination and client research. These projects have a very similar feel to marketing projects and assignments I did in college and previous employment, but with a different focus. My experience has largely been in consumer marketing. One of the key differences I have observed between marketing and public relations is the messages being used, not necessarily the audience. In marketing if you want to send a message to your audience, you simply buy an ad catered to your target market. I am learning that PR is much more about telling your client’s story to the consumer in a way that is relevant and engaging, rather than purchasing ads. The content of the message seems to be equally as important as how the message is communicated.

Additionally, the tools used in marketing are different than those used in public relations. For example, a public relations campaign attempts to generate stories through the online, print, tv, and radio media. This is a much more organic approach to reaching a target audience than perhaps a marketing campaign where an ad would be created and purchased to reach a very specific group of people. This organic approach seems to give the message being conveyed to the audience more credibility as it is not coming directly from the company. I am enjoying the opportunity to take the knowledge and experience I have gained in the past from a marketing background and apply it to PR. My future blog postings will have more insights to the world of public relations and what I am beginning to learn as an intern at The Fearey Group.

From the Desk of a PR Intern …Week Ten

…a blog series by Anthony Cogswell

Fearey Group Sign Pic

…a blog series by Anthony Cogswell

Today, “From the Desk of a PR Intern” is transitioning to become a new blog series. I am pleased to announce that for the next four weeks, I will be co-writing a mini blog series with Kelly Potts, the intern at HMA Public Relations in Phoenix, Arizona.

Both The Fearey Group and HMA Public Relations are member agencies within the Public Relations Global Network. PRGN is a worldwide public relations think-tank, comprised of top PR agencies from every continent. This organization creates global partnerships which allow agencies to work together produce quality work for clients all over the world, without regard to proximity. Essentially, PRGN means public relations without borders. It also provides a platform for agencies to consult one another as resources, fostering innovation & creativity.

In this case, our connection and partnership with HMA Public Relations through PRGN is what allowed a couple of interns from very different locations the opportunity to put our heads together and share our experience with what it’s like to begin a career in this industry. I am very excited to be working with Kelly and I hope you check back each Thursday for “A View from Two Interns’ Desks”

 

From the Desk of a PR Intern …Week Five

…a blog series by Anthony Cogswell

Fearey Group Sign PicI’ve been here working here for more than a month now and out of everything I’ve learned about this industry, one particular lesson is being exemplified in a substantial way today: The more responsibility you ask for, the more you will get.

Here I sit, buried in work at 4:20 p. m. on a Tuesday afternoon – And I love it. Executing work on multiple accounts, keeping up with daily responsibilities, conducting media outreach and taking a stab at project management have left me with little time to devote toward this week’s blog post.

In a way, this is a sign that I am lucky enough to find myself working at an agency that allows its interns and employees to learn, grow and take on new responsibilities. I’ve got a ton on my plate and the funny thing is – I keep asking for more. So far, this trial by fire, learn-as-you-go environment has proved to be an invaluable method of gaining experience and testing boundaries.

My apologies for the brevity – I’ve got a lot to finish before I leave tonight. Tune in next week for a lengthy discussion involving the importance of understanding the generational changes taking place within target audiences from a PR standpoint.

From the Desk of a PR Intern …Week Four

Fearey Group Sign Pic

…a blog series by Anthony Cogswell

Several weeks ago, a few members of our team joined a gym down the street from our building. We now have an office-wide competition in place to determine who exercises the most each week. The tally sheet taped to the fridge is an incentive for everyone in this office to be healthy – and its working.

Just last Wednesday, I had an appointment to spend an hour at the gym with my boss, Aaron Blank. As the President of The Fearey Group, Aaron has a strict schedule, to say the least, and making time for things like exercise can be challenging. Nevertheless, we met up that afternoon and walked across the street to the gym.

We talked about our families, colleges and interests, but mostly about current projects and what it means to practice PR in an agency. It wasn’t until about halfway through our work out that I realized how many parallels there are between fitness and the way Aaron was describing networking as a means for success in public relations.

Beginning to work out can be a challenge for the body to get on board with – It takes nearly three months before noticeable results start to take place in a person’s appearance. Most people’s fitness plan actually fizzles out several times before they reach three months of consistency. Your body is constantly sore from this new and foreign stress on its muscles and most don’t like to be uncomfortable and tired without instant gratification.

Networking can bring about the same reaction. It is not a process that usually leads to immediate results and a lot of the time we forget to do it after a while. It can be an exhausting routine to actively apply, but it’s that constant and uncompromising dedication toward building and growing relationships over time which brings results, new business and success.

You don’t benefit from exercise if you do it sporadically. Typically, most need to force themselves to go to the gym or step out for a jog. But with time, your muscles get stronger, you gain endurance and it becomes a habit. In the same way, fostering connections with industry contacts and clients is something that will only yield results when practiced consciously and consistently. After a while, it can become as natural as breathing.

Aaron summed up success in the field of public relations with just a few words in between sets at the gym. PR is all about relationships. You have to meet the right people, take advantage of every opportunity, be available when no one else is and work harder than anyone else.

I’ve been thinking about that conversation a lot over the past week. These ideas seem like commonsense, but I think that is why so many people fall short when it comes consistently building new business relationships and preserving valuable old ones. I believe this is what distinguishes successful PR agencies from average PR agencies.

From the Desk of a PR Intern …Week Three

…a blog series by Anthony Cogswell

As I mentioned last week, public relations is the business of creating and maintaining relationships between an organization and its publics. This is a definition that can be found in any of the college textbooks that litter my desk and closet at home. What isn’t written in any of those books is the critical role that multitasking and time management play in the field of PR.

At any given time, an individual in this office might be servicing six or more accounts simultaneously, while managing to keep track of activity reports, billable and non-billable time, as well as steady administrative responsibilities and more.

I’ve come to the realization that it can be all too easy to become buried and fall behind while working at an agency. Organization, disciplined planning and flexibility are the only ways to combat the constant barrage of meetings, assignments and shifting schedules.

Multitasking is not a skill you are born with. It is learned and practiced – but never perfected. Things slip through the cracks, it comes with the territory and everyone has experienced it at some point. How can you give 100% of your effort when your attention is divided in a million different directions at once? The answer is: very carefully.

In the last few weeks I’ve watched senior staff members work and I’ve learned that you can only take it as it comes. Being extremely organized and conscious of deadlines is the only way to stay on top of things in an agency.

But at the end of the day, getting “caught up” does not seem realistic in this industry. Monday through Friday, PR professionals are greeted each morning by a full inbox and half a dozen appointment requests.

My strategy has been to give complete focus to the most important task, to identify new projects and obligations when presented, prioritize them, execute and actively re-evaluate. This ensures that I don’t spread myself too thin and that each project is completed with my full attention.

Needless to say, I don’t think I’ll ever get to the bottom of my to-do list. That’s one of the best parts about this job – The constantly changing game plan and certainty of an audible or two throughout the day are what make it interesting.

From the Desk of a PR Intern …Week Two

…a blog series by Anthony Cogswell

I’ve had a lot thrown on my plate during the course of my first two weeks at The Fearey Group. From assembling media lists, to conducting research and tracking media coverage, to drafting press kit materials, I have been busy. But this “sink or swim” brand of on the job training is a perfect way to learn.

After two weeks, I now know that even with excellent planning, projects can change on a dime. I learned little things like how much coffee is too much coffee and that the term “deck” is sometimes used in reference to a PowerPoint presentation or pitch. Probably the most important lesson I’ve taken away so far is the importance of collaboration.

So far, I’ve been invited to meetings of every kind; creative brainstorming meetings, project briefings and debriefings, and lunch meetings with advertising account executives. I’ve noticed that people here are always communicating with one another. Whether it’s through endless e-mail conversations or stopping by the office two doors down, people here are always talking.

This may seem commonplace to most, but it runs contrary to the picture that has often been painted for me about this industry. I am pleasantly surprised by how much interaction actually goes into public relations. In order for innovation and creativity to take place, people need to get feedback and outside opinions that help refine and develop an idea.

I’m particularly impressed with the creative brainstorming sessions that we’ve done. Everyone – from the president of the agency, down to me – sits in the conference room and shouts out ideas for a campaign. The process is loud and unorganized, but it allows people to use each other’s ideas as inspiration and “piggyback” new suggestions. The term “fearless thinking” comes to mind. When ideas start to become increasingly outlandish, the meetings are typically adjourned and the best plan is selected.

Experiencing things like this makes me realize how important unapologetic creativity is. Without fear of judgment or egos getting involved, people come up with some pretty incredible ideas.

PR is about creating and maintaining connections between an organization and its public. This focus on building relationships and connecting with people can also be seen in the way PR professionals work with one another. If you can’t clearly explain a project to team members, it’s very unlikely that you would be able to reach anyone in your target audience. An environment of open and constant communication allows us to develop ideas, collaborate and ultimately produce better results.

From the Desk of a PR Intern

…a blog series by Anthony Cogswell

Get a good night’s sleep. Eat a healthy breakfast in the morning. Grab a cup of coffee on your way into the office. Dress well, work well. Do your best. Don’t forget to smile.

These are all things that people tell you before your first day at a new internship. And all of this advice feels encouraging, right up until the elevator doors open on your floor and you come to the unsettling realization that after all the effort you’ve put into college and gathering experience, you still wonder if you know enough.

My name is Anthony and I am the newest intern at The Fearey Group. I am a 22-year-old recent graduate with a BA in Public Relations. After completing my major and three college internships, I believed I had a complete understanding of the field of public relations.

I was wrong.

Sure, I can develop an effective communication plan and draft a press release, but after only a week interning at this agency it’s clear to me that there’s a lot more to it than that. Although my experience and education have given me a strong overall foundation in this field, I can tell that PR in an agency setting is a whole different animal. I have a lot to learn.

But the truth is, I don’t think I’m alone in my search to redefine my understanding of public relations. Even professionals who have been in the industry for years have trouble putting their finger on exactly how it works today. This is because PR has become a business of endless reinvention and progress.

The advent of digital technology and the way that it continually changes how we communicate is just one example of the many factors that contribute to the shifting definition of public relations.  I think the only way to really know what this industry is all about is to actively learn, then adapt and evolve.

So here I am at the beginning of my journey. I have a long way to go. I have the opportunity to learn and grow in one of the most established agencies in Seattle. Over the next twelve weeks, I will record my experiences and insights as I learn the ropes and develop an understanding of what it means to practice public relations in an agency. It may have been three years or thirty years since you stood in my shoes, but it never hurts to take a look at where you started, how far you’ve come, and remember there’s always more to learn. Check back every Tuesday to see the world of public relations through an intern’s eyes.