Monday, December 28, 2015

Ag Jobs A to Z: Media Relations

Ashley Woodward-Fischer, Photo credit: Beck's Hybrids
Over the last four years I've had some fantastic internships that introduced me to wonderful mentors. Last summer, I interned with Beck's and was blessed to work with Ashley every day. Because of her, my writing has improved and I feel lots closer to being ready for a career.

1. Where did you go to school?
Purdue University

2. What inspired you to pursue a job in media relations?
I graduated from Purdue with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications. After graduation I interned at a marketing communications agency in Milwaukee, Wis. During my internship, I realized how much I enjoyed the agency lifestyle – fast paced, always evolving, and it challenged me as an individual. 

But I didn’t want to start my career at a large agency so I moved to Fort Worth, Texas to work for a small agency. I wanted to learn from the ground up. That’s when I fell in love with media relations. 

From there, I worked with another agency in Madison, Wis., before coming back to central Indiana to work for Beck’s, the largest family-owned, retail seed company in the United States.

When I started at Beck’s, no one was doing media relations and I wasn’t hired for that purpose. But I told them media relations was a passion and a vital component they were missing in their marketing communications. Now, five years and three job titles later, I’m not only doing what I love, I was able to build our media relations program.  

3. How long have you been working in media relations?
9 years

4. What skills are necessary for a career in media relations?
Passion. If you’re going to succeed in media relations, you’ll want to be passionate about your job. It you’re not, then it’s not for you. 

Innovation. Things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes that means you have to innovate, adapt and overcome. 

Adaptability. I’ll repeat. Things don’t always go as planned. Be adaptable. Be patient. Be helpful. And most of all, be kind.

Integrity. Always tell the truth. 

Commitment. Timeliness is everything in media relations. No matter if you are answering a reporter’s question, finding a source, or reviewing a story before it goes to print, you want to respond in a timely manner. You never want to lose an opportunity to tell your story. And even if it’s 6:00 a.m. or 8:00 p.m., sometimes stories, challenges or situations come in at all hours. It’s a commitment, but when you love what you do, it doesn’t matter the hour. 

Teamwork. Whether you’re working with a coworker or a media professional, don’t forget to work effectively with others. 

5. How does your job fit into the agricultural industry? (Who do you work with? Who do you help? Who helps you?) 
For Beck’s, it’s not just about getting our message out in the public, it’s about helping farmers succeed. Through our field agronomists and Practical Farm Research (PFR)® team, we have excellent unbiased content for media to utilize.  

As a media relations professional I work with farm broadcasters, agricultural editors or writers, bloggers, TV, as well as the general media. I work with many audiences – internal employees, agricultural media, general media, etc. At the end of the day, when I get a request from the media, my goal is to find the right person for the interview. Not someone from the marketing department. I want them to speak to the person who “lives” in the topic of discussion every day. 

6. What career/internship opportunities are there in media relations?
Yes, there are career and internship opportunities available in media relations. Whether it’s working for a marketing communications agency, public relations agency, a company, or industry association, there are many opportunities available. 

7. Is there anything else you would like a student audience to know?
No matter the job, no matter who you work for, and no matter what happens, always tell the truth. If you make a mistake, own it. I’ll never forget my first major mistake and neither will you. And I promise, no matter how hard you try to not make a mistake, it’ll happen. Trust me. But making a mistake is how we grow as individuals and professionals. 

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