As my time at Georgia Southern gets closer to an end I continue to learn more about the field of public relations. Knowing what to expect in the public relations, “real world” work force will help me not catch the recent graduate unemployment blues. I have conducted several informational interviews to figure out what to expect when I dive head first in the business. This specific interview stood out and was very informative.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Holiday Johnson. My aunt, Joyce Swinson,gave me the connection with her (thanks auntie!). Johnson made the interview more comfortable in a high intense situation. The conversational flow was very relaxed.  The personable Johnson graduated from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland with a degree in communications and psychology. She is currently employed as the principal at M&J Communications. Ms. Johnson answered a few questions about the public relations field; the questions and her responses are below.

  • Did your education help prepare you for working in public relations? If so, how?

Johnson does not feel her education prepared her for the field. Foundations, theory lessons, developing interpersonal skills, building relationships, and interacting in a professional environment are the things school taught her. Johnson was once employed with the Air Force as a public affairs officer. This is where she learned the most about the field. She was taught the field from the ground up and was able to learn real world applications. Her duties gave her a large amount of responsibility at an early stage of her career.

  • How important is writing in your field?

“Critical!” Johnson believes when writing you should have a system of checks and balances. The more people in this system the more likely errors will be recognized before publishing your work. She also believes that good writing is essential in all fields of communications.

  • What professional organizations are you involved in?

Currently she is not active in any organizations. Johnson realized that overloading herself was not the way to go, but she believes in maintaining a strong network. She has been involved in Women in Communications, Women in Film and Video, and the Chamber of Commerce.

  • What is a typical week like?

“It depends, dealing with emails, meetings, reviewing projects, ad layouts, and critiques from a public point of view.”

  • What do you do to keep current in the industry?

Social networking trends are starting to affect business. Johnson said she used to have the television on constantly for news updates, but now she remains on the internet to read the news headlines. “I would like to attend classes (social networking and internet) to remain current.”

  • How does technology affect your work?

Smart phones! The Internet and texting are Johnson’s preferred features. “Texting gets straight to the point.”

  • Is there a project you are proud of?

Johnson does not have a particular project, but she does the job and moves on to the next task.

  • What has surprised you the most about working in public relations?

“Public relations is a very political field and it is an operating arena.” Johnson’s experience in the Air Force and receiving the opportunities she had were a surprise to her. She was trained to be a “jack of all trades” and know everything about the field; but in corporations a person can pick a specialty. Also, the burnout rate is high. Since public relations is a high paced, busy field the burnout occurs at high rates.

  • What do you wish you would have known before starting your career?

“There’s nothing, because life is a journey; you learn as you go. Certain things are going to happen and you’re going to have to be quick on your feet and there’s certain things you won’t know until you go through it.”

  • What three tips would you offer someone just starting out?

“Find a good mentor, maintain a relationship with your professors, and go into a situation offering, not with a hand out (in life also).”

  • When your company is hiring for an entry-level position what would make a candidate stand out?

“Someone who takes the initiative with a go getter attitude. It is someone who is time conscious with good time management skills. They must know what has to be done and be a trustworthy person. Time is of the essence and we don’t have time to tell someone what to do.”

  • What would you look for in a resume or portfolio when hiring a recent college graduate?

Johnson would look for the classes that were taken, amount of internships, writing skills, professional e-mail address, and the presentation of the person and their resume or portfolio.

That concludes my interview with Holiday Johnson. I want to take a moment to thank her for all the helpful information. If you would like more information check out her website.

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