Check out the latest alumni spotlight from PRSSA alumna, Kelly Obbie! After recently completing her role as Social Media Coordinator at Kings Island, Kelly now works at Walt Disney World in Orlando within the Disney College Program.
What did you study as an undergraduate? I majored in journalism with a specialization in PR, a second concentration in English and a minor in Spanish.
What was your extracurricular involvement like at IU? When I started at IU, I wanted to work in news writing, so I spent my early years at the IDS. Eventually, I decided that I wanted to take a different path while staying under the journalism umbrella. I wanted to keep writing and telling stories, but more in a way that I could promote companies and use more creativity (I still remember my IDS editors telling me that my articles read like PR promotions). This path eventually took me to PRSSA, where I attended workshops and networked, networked, networked! Outside of journalism and PR, I attended Café Hispano to practice speaking Spanish, and I studied abroad in Seville, Spain for a semester.
Where has your career path taken you since graduating? About a month after graduating, frustrated with rejection letters and tired of unemployment, I Googled “multimedia coordinator tourism” on a whim and saw an opening at Kings Island amusement park in Cincinnati. Long story short, I landed a job as their Social Media Coordinator for the 2018 season. To say I loved this job would do it an injustice! I wrote the park’s Instagram content and blogs, tracked their statistics and took photos. I had a blast all summer and decided that I belong in tourism PR.
Next semester, I will move to Florida for the Disney College Program, working at Walt Disney World for six months while networking with Disney personnel and attending seminars on the tourism industry. I dream of one day doing social media for Disney World or another large tourist destination, and this program will definitely take me in the right direction!
What does your current role entail?
While working for Kings Island, I mainly managed the park’s Instagram page, tracked Instagram statistics and wrote blogs. My journalism and news writing background really helped with the blogs, and I think any IU student who wants to work in PR should write at least a few articles for the IDS. My news writing skills transitioned into the blogs when I interviewed park employees and random guests and built an article/story around a simple idea: promote the park. I wrote the blogs as I would a news article, making the promotion both entertaining and informative, and this method worked! People loved reading the journalistic-style blogs, and our statistics were fantastic.
One task I did not anticipate but loved to learn at Kings Island was tracking rumors. Theme parks have large fan bases with people who love to blog, and small rumors about things like new coasters can get out of hand if not controlled. As Social Media Coordinator, I kept the fire under control by tracking who said what online and reporting what rumors were growing. PR has a lot of writing, but also a lot of firefighting.
What are your long-term career goals?
I want to write content and do other creative work like photo and video full time in the tourism industry. I love making people happy, promoting companies and telling stories, and I dream of doing social media for Disney World or another large tourist destination.
What did you enjoy the most about IU PRSSA while you were a member?
It sounds corny, but I loved the people I met. Networking with so many professionals and getting so much advice not only built my network, but also taught me how to network, period!
How should current PRRSA members prepare for a career in PR and communications?
1. Go to every career workshop you can. Even if you hear the same advice over and over (it will stick in your head!), you will network with professionals, and you never know when this will come in handy in the future. When meeting employers I constantly hear about how they remember me from an event, and this always opens the door for more conversations on their company and even job openings. Employers like it when you show up to things, so if you leave a workshop/event feeling like you gained nothing, you still gained something. When you show up, it shows employers that you care.
2. Don’t be afraid to reach out. I would not be anywhere near where I am today if I had not gained the courage to reach out to people. I originally did not get an internship with the Indianapolis Zoo, but I called and asked what I could do to improve for the future. A few weeks later, they gave me the job, and this job led me to the tourism industry and a career path I love. At another point, I messaged a Disney World employee/IU alum who I found on LinkedIn and asked if I could talk to her about her career. A year later, she helped me get an interview for a professional internship with Disney World. Reaching out can feel scary, but remember, in most cases the possible benefits of picking up the phone or writing to a total stranger far outnumber the possible negatives.
3. Get every skill you can under your belt. Specializing in specific skills is certainly beneficial, but so is trying a little bit of everything. While at IU I tried news writing, news design, coding, photography, videography and more, and I have had many employers comment on how many different skills I have. Just knowing the basics of something can help you reach the top of an application pile since you can check off more of the requirements in the job posting, and by trying it you may discover your passion.