Posted by: Female Perspective | October 20, 2010

Informational Interview with PR Practitioner

Informational Interview of PR Practitioner

Interviewer: Jennifer Cicotta
Interviewee: Laura Saxby Lynch

This morning I interviewed the Director of Corporate Communications of Paychex, Laura Saxby Lynch.  Paychex was founded in 1971 and since then has become one of the nation’s top payroll and human relations companies.  Their client list expands across the country and even into Europe.  Laura has been with the company for almost ten years.  She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication from St. Bonaventure University.  Originally, Laura started her career in radio and eventually television broadcast.   Later, she moved on to the world of public relations which is where she was recruited by Paychex to develop their public relations department.

(All answers to the following questions are paraphrased and not directly quoted)

What is a typical week like for you and your staff?

My primary role is to develop a plan and execute that plan as it relates to media relations.  My team of five and I are constantly looking to advance the positive reputation of our company and its brand.  On a daily bases, we are identifying and responding to interview requests that will get our Paychex experts into local and national publications.  I am also in charge of writing news releases that are sent out to various media outlets and our employees. 

Can you tell me about a project that you worked on recently that you are particularly proud of?

At the end of September, the company appointed a new CEO.  I was informed on a Wednesday afternoon that the next day we would be announcing the new CEO to the public which gave me less than 24 hours to create a communication plan and to execute it without letting anyone know the reason.  We had to put together a national news release, a company news release, an article for the company news letter, a news advisory to local media outlets letting them know about the following morning’s press conference, and set up the on-site logistics for the press conference. 

How do you stay current in the PR industry?

First, I am a member of two different communication’s executive groups; one that I pay a membership fee for and one that I was invited to join.  These groups give me access to research and provide me with connections within the public relations industry.  As far as social media goes, the company is currently in the process of polishing their Facebook and Twitter accounts.  Currently, the sites are in a soft-launch meaning that they are up but not complete.  Every day, I also have a member of my staff who checks several social medias in order to keep us updated on what is happening in the industry. 

 

 

 

What do you wish you would have known when you started in public relations?

I wish I had known how quickly things can change.  Technology changes constantly and you have to be able to adapt to those changes.  However, the fundamentals that I received from my college education still remain relevant and the bases for success in my field.

How important is writing in your job?

Writing is absolutely essential.  If I receive a cover letter that has punctuation errors in it, I instantly throw it away because there is no way that I am going to hire a person who can’t write.  In this industry, you are constantly writing and need to become proficient at it. 

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in PR?

First of all be patient.  Second, even if your school doesn’t require it, find an internship.  An internship will give you the practical experience that will be necessary when you are trying to find a job.  If there is a specific community that you hope to work in, become familiar with the community and the people living in it.  Also, you have to be able to network.  Go places where you are going to meet people in the industry and will have the opportunity to pick their brain.  For example, the Public Relations Society of America has a chapter in almost every major city in the country; become a member and attend any luncheons that they may organize.  You may also want to consider getting involved in a non-profit organization in your community.  Many of these organizations will welcome someone with public relations experience on their board so it is a good way to get some experience and to learn about the community.

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Responses

  1. I found this information very helpful, especially because I’m going to be looking for internships this summer and am in the process of getting my resume and portfolio together. The question that stuck out the most to me was “How important is writing in your job?” After reading what Lynch said, I will be proofreading my cover letter and resume multiple times! It is so sad that some people spend so much time on their resumes only to get them thrown away because maybe a comma was used incorrectly. It is sad that a simple, usually bloated, piece of paper has to be our first impression.

  2. […] commented on “Informational Interview with PR Practitioner” by Jennifer […]


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