Last time I talked to Stephanie Booker she was on her way to her interview with her current company, Beck Media & Marketing. I was really excited to talk to an up and coming PR person in the California area. Stephanie graduated from the University of Georgia in 2007 making her a fresh face in the PR world.

It is great being able to talk to someone who is just starting out in their career rather than a veteran of the PR profession. After all, it’s not that long ago she was in my shoes.

Stephanie’s resume includes New Media PR at Wolf Kasteler & Associates, Media Relations at “Entertainment Tonight”, “The Insider”, and Consultant for Publicity and Promotions at Fox Atomic.

Now, an Entertainment and Technology team member at Beck Media & Marketing, it was great to catch up with Stephanie. I asked her many of the same questions as I did last year, but it was great to hear about her new job.

Here is our interview:

ME: What’s a typical week like?

Stephanie: Working at an agency brings something new everyday because you have so many different clients.  I try to split up my days in the morning with a to do list of every project I’m working on, then prioritize based on importance and time zone.  Most major magazines and many major broadcast outlets are New York based so you have to keep that in mind when you work on the West Coast.  I spend a lot of my days writing.  I’m always writing a release, a pitch, an email, something.  The good thing about my particular company is we have creative brainstorming sessions.  So we will all get together and bring up different clients and bounce creative ideas off of each other so that we keep ideas fresh to our clients.


Me: Tell me about a project you worked on that you are especially proud of.
Stephanie: A unique one I worked on in January was for Robbins Brothers.  They are an engagement ring store on the West Coast, and we decided to give a couple shopping at a Robbins Bros store a chance to do a surprise red carpet proposal (video below).


First, we went to Disney with this idea and they loved it because it brought extra publicity to the movie that they didn’t have to do themselves.  We went through “casting” of sorts by interviewing normal looking guys that came in to Robbins Bros shopping for their girlfriends and told them our plan.  We finally decided on this guy named Chad and basically told him that he would be able to surprise his girlfriend with an engagement on the red carpet.  We would tell Audrey (his girlfriend) that he won tickets to walk the carpet from a radio station.  It ended up being a huge success, we got a giant segment on E! News, placement all over the internet, including Entertainment Tonight’s website.

Me: What do you do to keep current in the PR industry?
Stephanie: I’m still a huge Twitter fan.  It gives you the chance to browse through headlines from multiple sources you trust without having to go to tons of sites.  I like to keep Twitter lists and separate my news interests into Twitter lists.  Mashable is a GREAT website for social media news and it totally helps out.  PR Week is also a great source.

Me: What do you wish you would have known before starting your career in PR?
Stephanie: It is not glamorous most of the time.

Me: How important is writing in your career?
Stephanie: Beyond important.  I spend 75% of my day writing.

Me: What three tips would you offer someone just starting out in PR?
Stephanie: Read More:  Start reading your mom’s Family Circle, read Fast Company in the waiting room at the doctor’s office.  Seriously, these outlets might seem boring to you, but guaranteed you will need to know what is in these magazines to pitch someone for it in the future.  You have to make yourself versatile.  Can you imagine how many people pitch People magazine everyday?  Reading more also makes you a better writer.   If I were you, I would immediately start following Mashable, NY Times tech blogs, @EW (over celeb gossip because it has industry and celeb news), @HuffingtonPost, and anything else you can get your hands on.
Write More: practice makes perfect.  I’ll be honest, I used to be a really bad writer.  Even the last time we spoke my skills were sub par.  Since then I have written so much, and used the edits my bosses give me as a learning tool.  Read the comments and take them to heart, and apply them to your next assignment
Network, Network, Network:  Seriously, become best friends with everyone.  Contacts are EVERYTHING in PR. I go to lots of after work events with local groups

Me: When you were looking for a job, what did you do to stand out in this scarce job market?
Stephanie: I relentlessly stalked my boss before he hired me.  There were over 700 applicants per day for each job posted on this one website I was targeting.  I found out the company I was applying for, then went to their website to find key executives.  Then, I would search for those executives on LinkedIn and find out if we had any common connections.  In the case of my current job, I had one common connection who I knew through this one project I did at my old job.  I hadn’t talked to him in a year, but I sent him an email telling him how interested I was in the job at Beck Media, and he immediately reach out to my boss with my resume.  I also found the Beck Media mailing address online and mailed a hard copy of my resume, so that I knew my boss had a good chance of physically holding it in his hand instead of just deleting my email.  Long story short, I ended up getting my resume to Todd about 25 times that he knew about.  When he brought me in for an interview, he said that PR is a job of following up until you get what you want sometimes, and he thought if I was driven enough to get my resume in his hands that many times, it showed a lot of persistence and determination, which is a huge part of what you need.
Thanks again Stephanie for your time, help, and the really great advice!
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