I was a little worried when our teacher gave us the assignment to interview a PR professional. I knew how to get someone to interview; I was just worried I may be disappointed. I have been leaning for a while towards public relations involved with health care, and I was scared an interview might discourage my decision. Luckily, the interview did the exact opposite.
My mom is a hospice nurse who works through North Fulton Hospital in Roswell, GA. She set me up with the marketing coordinator at her hospital, Joanna Stotter. The first thing I asked her about was her job title. Although the title is marketing coordinator, she described her job as majority public relations work rather than “strict marketing.” Stotter went to Brenau University in Gainesville, GA where she earned a degree in mass communications with a concentration on public relations. While Stotter does believe her education prepared her for her job, Stotter does regret not taking on more internships. Through interning students have opportunities to receive more experience because “on the job training gives you a feel that you can’t get in the classroom.” I have many friends who have graduated recently. While looking for jobs, many of them also regret not taking as many internships.
I then began asking questions about what her job is like. Stotter said, “Every week is very different.” She works on the website and facebook. Stotter also works on newsletters both internal and external as well as brochures. Stotter works on senior outreach by working with the local senior center, assisted living homes, and independent living homes. She is their lesion; “if nothing else I’m that smiling face that they know they can contact if they’ve got a problem or an issue.” Stotter also typically plans and organizes health fairs that usually involve things like free screenings. The media is also in contact with Stotter with any questions and press releases. These are just a few of the many jobs Stotter described that she could be in charge of during a given week. “This is a job that is really good for people who get bored easily.”
I asked Stotter about a project that she had worked on and was really proud of. Last year Stotter organized their first Senior Wellness event. It was held at the Verizon Amphitheatre in Alpharetta, GA. They had it in the back stage area. There were health screenings just like a health fair. This event differed from a health fair because instead of having educational seminars there were fun activities. There was bingo, dance lessons, yoga: “We had about seven events happening every hour.” The event lasted four hours with about 300 people in attendance. There was even a barber shop quartet for entertainment. Stotter said the event was so successful they will be planning one for next year. From the event, she most enjoyed being able to work with many seniors that she reaches out to on a regular basis and seeing people get health screening they needed while having fun.
Next I asked Stotter about writing and technology in her career. Stotter said writing was huge! She said everyday she has to write and write well: “Writing is in every single day; you can count on that.” Stotter said writing “is one of the most important things that someone has to master.” On the other hand new technologies are changing and being used more often. They now have a video camera to tape events and link them to their social media such as their Facebook page, website, twitter, and Youtube. She is currently working on increasing the hospital’s use of social media.
Stotter also gave me some advice on wanting to enter a PR field. First of all Stotter said that what most surprised her about her job was how busy she is. Stotter did not anticipate just how much there is to do all the time. However she said all the work is a good thing, and she does enjoy it. Stotter has sat in during interviews for potential new employers and found that candidates most stand out with confidence. She also has found that generic answers are not impressive: “You want somebody who can think on their feet and are relaxed that shows that they are more confident.” Employers also look for professional appearances. Stotter said when starting PR try to “come in with an open mind; jump in and be open for anything. Don’t try to hide behind your boss and wait for people to tell you what to do. You have to prove yourself, and make people take you seriously.” Her final piece of advice was to look for a job where you enjoy who you work with for a career.
After my interview with Stotter I felt more confident in my decision to look into PR in health care. She really enjoys her jobs and gets to not only help the hospitals but also help patients and people in the community. She has a fear of blood while I have a fear of needles so we both agreed PR for a hospital is a good alternative to actually providing health care for patients. I do also want to take her advice and try to get more than one internship in different areas of PR. It’s exciting to know in a few years I could be the one being interviewed by a young PR student.