For this assignment, I interviewed Wendi Patrick. She is the Director of Public Relations and Marketing at Savannah Christian Preparatory School (SCPS). I met Ms. Wendi through a friend of mine Emily Rich. Emily is a graduate from SCPS and she also did her internship under Ms. Wendi. I conducted my interview over the phone.
What’s a typical week like? (If no week is typical, then what was last week like?)
Within a typical week, for Ms. Wend, spends a great deal of time deciding what to cover for internal communications with their student body, parent base, grandparents, alumni and website coverage. She also determines what needs to be communicated beyond our SCPS family…what needs a press release and what needs media attention…what should just be an afterglow story sent with a picture to local publications that will run stories that I write. She also spends some time “catching up with SCPS staff” in an effort to hear the word on street, find out what stories are out there and generally keeping “in touch” with parents, students and staff. Internal PR is very important to keeping our school, which is a non-profit, healthy from the inside out. She also tries to keep up on news and other stories in the community to know what her competition is doing, what issues are affecting education and fundraising and communicating those to the headmaster and the other Institutional Advancement members.
What do you do to keep current in the PR industry?
In order to keep current in the industry, Ms. Wendi talks to other professionals, reads, and also analyzes different companies those that relate and don’t relate to her school. Recently she has been taking a look at Toyota.
What do you wish you would have known before starting your career in PR?
That she had a degree in public relations. Ms. Wendi has a degree in education and taught kindergarten after college. However, she feels as if this was great training for the PR field because you have to be well branded as a school and as a teacher in order to gain the confidence of parents of young children. She also felt that her volunteer service with the Miss America Organization and her work with the Junior League of Savannah also provided great training.
How important is writing in your career?
It is essential! However, Ms. Wendi said that she was a better writer before her job in the PR field because she is always multi-tasking and in a hurry to write things.
What three tips would you offer someone just starting out in PR?
Ms. Wendi gave me three tips.
- Find your passion it’s easier and more effective to handle PR for something you are passionate about!
- Remember you are always representing your company
How has PR changed since you entered the field?
When asked this question, Ms. Wendi told me that “ social networking has changed the game.” She went on to explain that instant information is a great thing and a liability all at the same time!
How does technology affect your daily work?
She said that it makes her more accessible and on top of things. However, she does feel sometimes that she is always at work.
When your company is hiring for an entry-level PR position, what makes a candidate stand out?
Ms. Patrick holds the only PR position at the school. She said that she was asked to work for SCPS because of her experience in the non-profit side of PR (fundraising) and because I know the organization from the inside out. For her, knowing the company that you work for during the interview process is key to helping you stand out during an interview.