Year of Graduation: 2012
Current Position: Press Representative and Staff Photographer, Guthrie Theater
Please give a brief description of your current position.
As the Press Rep for the Guthrie Theater, it is my job to pitch story ideas to the local media in order to help support ticket sales for each production. I also act as the gatekeeper for all other publicity requests that the theater receives. I set up frequent interviews with our senior management, actors and other employees. As the Staff Photographer, I photograph anything the theater needs on a daily basis. Lately, it's been headshots for actors, but it's typically rehearsal photos or other event images for our Facebook page and show programs.
What path did you follow to get to your current position?
I knew I wanted to major in Communication when I started school, but I didn't exactly know what I wanted to do with my degree. I sort of fell into Public Relations. I started as a publicist for Sesame Street Live, VEE Corporation, which is based in Minneapolis. I got a lot of great PR experience planning publicity for our three U.S. tours. I worked at VEE for a year, and then I transferred those skills to theater and starting working in my current position at the Guthrie.
What advice/suggestions would you have for students who might be interested in your career?
Internships are so important! You have to start somewhere. After graduation and during the job hunt, you'll be a standout to any employer if you can show that internship experience on your resume. Another thing to remember is that you learn so much on your first job. If an area of communication doesn't seem like the right fit at first, try it out for a while, then gain other experiences in marketing. That's the beauty of this major - it's so broad that you can get experience in a lot of areas to gain more skills. Also, it pays to be outgoing and curious. I got the Sesame Street Live job by reaching out to an alum who worked there. There happened to be an open publicist position, so I got lucky and set up an interview the next week. It never hurts to ask!
What skills are important in your field?
You have to be willing to put yourself out there in PR. It takes some guts to come up with a story idea, pitch it to a media contact and either move forward with that idea if they're interested, or face some rejection. That's part of the gig! For me, I really like the fact that I don't work with an advertising budget - all the media exposure I secure is earned, so I don't often feel a lot of pressure to book every interview I pitch. It also helps to be organized. I need to set up a lot of interviews on a daily basis, so organization becomes really important to stay on top of interviewees and reporters to make sure everyone gets what they need.
What is the most satisfying/rewarding part of your position?
I really enjoy telling the unique and often touching stories of the Guthrie; the stories of people who work and spend time there. The Guthrie is such an important part of the Twin Cities arts community and it rejuvenates me when I think of a great idea to reach new audiences.
Rejection isn't always fun - but like I said earlier, it goes with the territory. Through experience, you learn what certain media contacts find interesting and you can take your time and craft story ideas to suit them.
What activities/experiences were helpful at CSB/SJU (and elsewhere) in preparation for this career?
I took Dana Drazenovich's "Intro to Media Writing" class when I was a junior...and it was AWESOME. That course really helped me understand how people in the media write and function on a daily basis. Following my path in communication, this class was very valuable and sparked my interest in pursuing a job working with the media.
Through multiple internships with CSB Athletics, Minnesota Public Radio, KARE-TV and G.L. Berg Entertainment, I gained new experiences in the workplace and learned more about where I wanted to go after graduation. I also participated in JEC and helped plan events around campus. This was a great way to gain exposure to organizing events and working on a team.