Read as Sarah Evans talks about her career as a Public Relations Consultant. Find her at www.sevansstrategy.com and on her Twitter feed in the sidebar of this interview.
What do you do for a living?
I am lucky enough to have job mashup. I’m one part social media correspondent and blogger through Sarah’s Faves (http://sarahsfav.es) and my social accounts, like @PRsarahevans, one part chief evangelist with the Las Vegas social collaboration platform Tracky (www.tracky.com) and public relations consultant and speaker with Sevans Strategy (www.sevansstrategy.com). It’s a pretty cool way to make a living and no one day is like the one before. I created my perfect job!
How would you describe what you do?
I get to do my job and then talk about doing my job. It’s almost like everyday is a living case study. I’m a relationship-builder, do-er and tacticianer (as opposed to a theorist). While I have a few professional titles, I don’t think the industry has a title reflective of “how” I work.
What does your work entail?
In any given day I might be doing any of the following:
Pitching media, bloggers and people who influence niche groups online.
Sending postcards to people in my social networks (www.sincerely.com/sarahevans).
Producing content. Whether it’s for Sarah’s Faves, the Tracky blog, interview requests, social networks or my upcoming webshow Track Stars, a significant amount of time each day is dedicated to getting information out in the interwebz.
Responding! I build time into my calendar to respond to emails, tweets, texts, Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, Pinterest, Fancy, Google +, etc… I’m the first to admit that I don’t often get to respond to everything, but try my best. It’s my goal to at least get back to everyone who emails me (something I’ve always struggled with).
Making introductions between my favorite people and identifying a way to collaborate. An introduction doesn’t mean as much if there’s nothing to keep people interacting.
Speaking and training people who want to know more about the communications and public relations industry (mostly about social media and applicable tactics, tips and tools).
Testing and using apps, tech gadgets and keeping my pulse on the tech industry to write for Sarah’s Faves.
Meeting with the Tracky team to talk about how we can keep iterating and making a better platform for our users.
Watching national headlines for media opportunities and to connect reporters with sources.
Sending out my daily PR and journalism news recap #Commentz (every Monday through Friday).
If it’s a Monday you can find me moderating #journchat, the very first Twitter industry chat. It’s been almost four years and it’s still my favorite thing to do on a Monday night. Journalists, bloggers and public relations pros gather together to talk about the industry, offer advice and join in a neutral place that allows us to build relationships.
What’s a typical work week like?
There is no typical work week. Truly. Some of the tasks I mentioned above are the most common things I do, but it can change at the drop of a hat.
How did you get started?
I went to work with the largest healthcare system in Illinois directly after college. I joined the public relations team (and later communications and government relations), where I worked under my first mentor, Jaclyn Nelson for almost five years. It was the single experience that started me on this path.
What do you like about what you do?
I like that I have so much autonomy. It’s the way I work best and am able to contribute the most. I’ve always hated the traditional “office” setting and enjoy working from wherever I am. In fact, I am able to work much better (as opposed to more) having more freedom and less office structure. That’s one of the most important things to me.
What do you dislike?
My biggest dislike, at least for the last two years, was that my team was virtual. Although I don’t like working in a traditional office, I did miss the camaraderie and having someone nearby if I needed advice or to brainstorm (or grab lunch). I’m in the process of moving to Las Vegas where I’ll have more in-person collaborative time with the Tracky (www.tracky.com) team.
How do you make money/or how are you compensated?
I make money in a few different ways:
Contract basis (speaking, consulting)
How much money do you make in Public Relations?
Regarding compensation, I say the sky’s the limit. Of course, you have to be realistic as a new grad, but that’s only if you’re going a traditional route as opposed to an entrepreneurial route. If you decide to go the corporate route, you can expect to make anywhere between $40,000 to $55,000 as a college graduate (and even more if you’re starting out with your masters).
How much money did/do you make starting out?
Hmmmmm. I think that my first job out of college started at $30,000 and I more than doubled it in three years with promotions and raises. Keep in mind this was with a nonprofit.
What education, schooling, or skills are needed to do this?
Education is important and on-the-job experience is even more important. Successful public relations professionals often times have all of the qualities you can’t “teach” someone; patience, drive, story teller, community builder, etc… You do need to learn things like, how to:
Build a media list
pitch journalists, bloggers and others
Navigate internal politics
Write for media, for your corporate identity (sometimes many if you’re in an agency) and yourself
Use a camera and video
How/when to publish content and give it a longer life
TACTICAL application of social tools
What is most challenging about what you do?
Staying on top of everything. It’s important to prioritize what needs to get done today versus what can wait until tomorrow.
What is most rewarding?
My top three responses for this are:
Landing a great story.
Making people happy.
Having a platform to share my favorite things.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
Go for it.
How much time off do you get/take?
I’m not proud of this, but I haven’t had a real vacation in a few years (and I won’t tell you the last time I had a day off). My husband and I hope to take a trip to Europe in the next two years. As a business owner, it’s a bit difficult to take time off as there isn’t anyone to “cover” for you in the meantime. I choose this life because there are so many daily perks. Plus, I get to travel for work a lot and even when I am working, it doesn’t often feel like “work.”
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
She plays with social media. Or, one of my favorites, “Don’t you work for Facebook?”
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
You’ll have to interact with me to find out…
What else would you like people to know about your job/career?
My job doesn’t define me. I define my job. It took a risk to make that happen and I haven’t looked back.