Val and her team at the Leica Store LA opening event
It’s 6:30pm and you’ve barely left your desk all day. Your lunch break consisted of a granola bar hastily shoved into your mouth and washed down with a glass of water just in time to make yet another phone call. Now, as the day comes to an end, you’re ready to go home. But just when you think the day is over, your boss pings you to let you know that you’ll need to call Client X to explain the details of the latest project.
You take a breath, respond to your boss with a “Got it. No prob!” and then gather all the necessary info on Client X. This morning you were fast-talking and aggressive pitching Client X’s story to Reporter A but now you switch to the enthusiastic and patient demeanor that Client X responds to best.
This job may not require you to have an IQ score of 180 or the technical skills necessary to build a website, but there’s no doubt about the amount of emotional intelligence that it is imperative to have in the field of Public Relations.
Valerie Shaindlin understands the importance of emotional intelligence—being able to interact with multiple people and personality types every day. As an Account Executive at EVINS, she works with a variety of different clients, media executives, and coworkers on a daily basis. “PR is not a place for introverts, ” Valerie advises.
Valerie attended Skidmore College and graduated with a degree in Management and Business in May 2012. When thinking about how her major relates to her work she humorously mentions her lack of involvement with any sort of public relations courses.
“My college offered PR and promotions classes in the business department, but I actually never took any of them!”
While studying in the business department, Valerie did take a marketing class, but she is quick to point out the differences between marketing and public relations. Though the two do intersect, marketing deals more with advertising whereas PR is the business of trying to get clients coverage and buzz for free. Valerie gives us an example: a public relations firm will try to get a client featured in an article rather than paying for them to be featured in an ad that is next to the article.
“It seems more organic to the reader, ” Valerie mentions, “and it’s easier to capture more readers’ attention and for longer.”
How did her Management and Business major help her with her job?
At the end of the day, clients care about the bottom line. Her business degree helps her to be conscious of this and gives her the ability to contribute ideas that relate to the clients’ businesses outside of PR. But, she warns, it’s not always good to jump in and give your advice. She’s had to learn when it’s appropriate to give advice and when it’s better to keep it to herself.
Like many students, Valerie was unsure about her future career. Ending up in public relations was not something that was planned. While in college, she used her connections as a guide and put feelers out for any internships that might be available and (at least somewhat) related to her major. She ended up finding one in PR and liked it so much that she was willing to come back when they offered her a job after she graduated.
“The one thing that really drew me in when I applied to the internship was crisis communications or how to respond to a situation that is negative or out of control for a brand.”
Although “crisis situations” are not a regular part of her job, Valerie found the challenge of taking a negative situation and working with it to produce a positive outcome enticing.
She was hooked.
Valerie’s Typical Day:
7:30am – wake up, eat breakfast, shower/get ready
8:15am – out the door for work
8:45am – get to the office, check emails, maybe catch up on some personal emails/items as well
9:00am – work day begins… it’s a constantly changing schedule of meetings, answering emails, writing press releases and pitches, corresponding with media and clients, and monitoring media coverage.
Every single day she’s communicating with upwards of 20 different people via phone and email. (You get a lot of writing practice, an essential life skill, while also learning to format Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. This may not sound glamorous but it actually comes in quite handy.)
6:30 or 7:00pm – leave the office, have a couple hours of free time to get dinner and work out or do something fun or relaxing before an early bedtime
Her Favorite Part of the Job:
Valerie loves how diverse the work is. She also appreciates how well it is preparing her for any other career she might wish to pursue in the future. No two days are ever exactly the same. Her daily duties consist of everything from small administrative tasks to facilitating partnerships between high-profile companies.
“One day I’m meeting A-list celebrities and the next, I’m reformatting a memo for the fifth time. There are a lot of highs and lows. I think that’s how many PR jobs are.”
It keeps you humble while also pushing you to be better and more mature every day. You’re constantly being asked to learn new things and some of those things may be tedious, but it’s also what’s great about the job because you’re constantly growing and developing skills that will be useful in the future.