Interview a PR professional

In my Public Relations Applications course, we were required to interview one Public Relations professional.

Thankfully I was referred to James B. Bernegger by my PR professor. I was very fortunate to have this opportunity to interview him.

Mr. Bernegger is the Director of Marketing & Media Relations at Sun-n-Fun and has an undergraduate degree in government.

This is sort of a summary of the phone interview that took place October 28, 2011. Before we began, he took my name and the name of my school for personal records. Because this was a phone interview I was typing as much as I could of what he said. The main points of what he said is included here; however, he explained some questions in much greater detail that I did not include here.

1) What’s a typical week like? (If no week is typical, then what was last week like?) ..
• There is no typical week. During a week there are standard meetings within the organization. There is a staff meeting where all the managers and directors at Sun-n-Fun get together to brief one another on what has developed. Spring Break for Pilots is one of the major events.
2) Tell me about a project you worked on that you are especially proud of.
• I’m proud of them all but this event has to be singly focused. Part of my job as a director of marketing and media relations is basically to define our organization. I contribute to the pricing of the event for each of those individuals, the appearance they will be coming in to. The appearance and content that we send to each of these constituents. And finally the execution.
3) What do you do to keep current in the PR industry?
• There is an endless stream of publications, emails and newsletters throughout the entire year. We also attend many other major aviation events called parade shows. There are four major associations of pilots and each has their own parade show.
4) What do you wish you would have known before starting your career in PR?
• Well, to know what it’s all about. I had an undergrad in government. I had had a chance to train with an advertising agency. You must have a significant work ethic and be a good writer in public relations. Also use of social media are becoming even more important. In creating awareness and an impression of an organization and an event.
5) How important is writing in your career?
• Writing and sensitivity to your audience who you are addressing is very important. Communication skills are crucial.
6) What three tips would you offer someone just starting out in PR?
• Look for an opportunity to start out where you would feel proud of the organization with whom you’re associated with. This is going to require significant amount of time and energy Look for an opportunity to work with a range of departments in an organization so you get an early appreciation for the scope of the business. Also look for the opportunity for advancement.
7) When your company is hiring for an entry-level PR position, what makes a candidate stand out?
• Much of that is first of all their presence. Their ability to communicate and to present themselves is critical. Their ability to listen is a feature that I value significantly. The indication that they have an awareness of the world’s events and have understanding of an issue and that they can demonstrate an issue and have some sense of its relevance.
After the interview he told me he was very interested in having some of my class intern with him during our senior year.
Overall, the interview went extremely well. He was very easy to talk to and he described different aspects of his career in a way that could be easly understood. I could tell he’s passionate about what he does. By this interview with Mr. Bernegger, I understand more clearly what a career in public realtions entails and the PR profession is more appealing now than ever. Thanks Mr. Bernegger!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: