Meet IU Class of 2017 graduate, Katie Hogue!
What did you study as an undergraduate? I majored in Journalism, had a specialization in PR and a minor in marketing.
What was your extracurricular involvement like at IU? I was on the executive board of PRSSA for three years. Each year I held a different position: I started as a director of programming my sophomore year, then junior year became a director of communications and my senior year I was the director of national public relations. I was also the head of various PRSSA committees including the Ketchum Mindfire Committee, Greek Media Training, Give4Good committee and IU’s Health and Safety. I also developed a CisionPoint certification program for our PRSSA chapter that enabled members to become certified in the software – a must for PR pros.
Outside of PRSSA, I was a member of the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority, a Media Scholar and a member of the Hutton Honors College.
Where has your career path taken you since graduating? I currently work at a B2B tech PR agency called Walker Sands in Chicago. I’ve been working there a year and six months. After graduating IU, I accepted an internship at Walker Sands and after a few months, I was extended a permanent position as a media relations specialist. At the beginning of September, I was promoted to become a senior media relations specialist.
At Walker Sands, our focus is B2B tech companies. My clients have included a money transfer service for immigrants, a cybersecurity company and a data aggregator among others. While not as immediately “sexy” as some consumer companies, it forces me to do a lot of research on topics like blockchain, credit scoring and the Internet of Things – I leave work feeling smarter every day.
What does your current role entail? Everything! Well, not everything but I love the variety my job brings. Sometimes I feel like I work on 100 different things each day, but it certainly keeps it interesting! My general day-to-day tasks include pitching reporters announcements and story ideas for my clients (I currently have six), creating media briefing documents to prepare my clients for interviews, creating media lists of reporters to reach out to, writing press releases, assisting my team with monthly reporting, drafting commentary for my clients (basically ghost writing), creating client call agendas, drafting speaking and award submissions and writing the occasional contributed article for a client.
Working in a PR agency isn’t for everyone, but it helps you gain many skills very quickly. I work on several different clients and under three different managers, which helps me gain exposure to many different workstyles, reporters and situations that I wouldn't have otherwise.
What are your long-term career goals? Truthfully, I don’t fully know yet. I know I want to stay in the public relations or communications field but haven’t fully decided what route to take. I plan to stay at an agency for the foreseeable future but may want to try going in-house later on in my career to work in a PR or corporate communications department.
What did you enjoy the most about IU PRSSA while you were a member? I loved being able to take initiative. PRSSA is really what you want it to be – it can help set you up to gain whatever skills you want, you just have to go for it. When I realized that we were lacking media list building skills, I went out and contacted Cision and got free access for 25 PRSSA members to take a certification course in it which I managed. And when you decide to lead a committee, you determine how you want to run it and what activities you will do.
I also really enjoyed the relationships I built with other PRSSA members. It was a great place to learn from each other about internships, what classes to take and receive advice about the career in general. It’s a great network to be a part of!
How should current PRRSA members prepare for a career in PR and communications? I’d recommend spending some time as a reporter – commit a year to the IDS so you can learn what it’s like from the other side. I wish I had spent more time reporting so I would have a better understanding of newsrooms and what it’s like to be a reporter.
I’d also recommend getting more involved in PRSSA than the basic membership. Get as much hands-on experience as you can. Most of our classes at IU were too theoretical and I felt did not prepare me as much as I would have liked for real PR work. If you can get some experience pitching reporters for a client (even if it’s another IU club or nonprofit), helping them prepare for an interview or getting an article published, and writing a press release you’ll be ahead of the game. Most PR agencies have you take an exam as part of the interview process and it usually has you write a pitch, find reporters that would be a good fit for it, test your AP style and draft a press release. If you can do all those skills, or most of them, at least once during your time at IU, you’ll be well prepared for a PR career.