Ketchum Washington D.C. Field Trip Recap

My older sister warned me that when you begin making friends at college, besides asking what your name is, they initially ask what your major is.  My reply?  A Communication Interest major.  About 8 out of 10 times people stare at me with a blank face and either asks what is that or what can you do with that major in life.  Two extremely tough questions for freshmen to answer.  Fortunately after joining PRSSA, engaging in their activities and listening to speakers, I began to realize that public relations is an excellent career path for Communication majors. But what exactly is PR?  It’s not necessarily what PR is, but more of what PR can be.  PRSSA’s recent trip to Washington D.C. told me exactly that.

Entering Ketchum PR Agency in Washington D.C., we were given the opportunity to sit down with three experienced and knowledgeable individuals who currently work at Ketchum—and enjoy what they do every single day.  Chartése Day first discussed the health care side of PR and works with companies such as AstraZeneca.  Alli Sherman talked about how she formed her interest in Ketchum’s Consumer Health branch, and she works with brands such as Clorox.  Both stressed how important social media is, and how they are currently trying to “integrate” all forms of social media as one.  Some key parts of any type of PR are protecting the brand, preparing the client for potential issues, and being proactive and educated when new clients approach the agency.

Nick Ragone, the Managing Director of Ketchum’s D.C. Office also advised us as students looking for a career in PR to create a positive “online footprint.”

  1. Have a professional look to your Facebook page
  2. Make sure your resume contains links to your blogs, sites, etc.
  3. Have Twitter followers who reflect who you are
  4.  Publish as much as you can and make yourself known online

The day continued, and we had the chance to sit down with Senator Carper and his Communication staff including Emily Spain and Ian Koski. It was truly an honor to meet Senator Carper and learn from his advice.   He left us with four key pieces of advice.

  1. Do what is right
  2. Treat others as you want to be treated
  3. Focus on excellence and achievement
  4. Never give up

I believe that these wise words stuck with each and every one of us.  Emily and Ian talked to us about what their agendas consist of: updating web sites, press release, meet & greets, conferences, and, of course, social media.  They brainstorm new ideas and ways to incorporate social media into their daily work while continually adhering to government ethics rules. They talked about the importance of establishing good relationships with the press and local newspapers and how they go about getting their latest news out to the public.

Overall, the day was an amazing opportunity that has helped me answer the question of what PR can be.

Written by Natalie Hines.

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