Meet Me at the Top: Spring Harris
Name: Spring Harris, 28
Current City: Los Angeles, CA
Looking For: PR Agency Work
Our Notes: We could go on all day. She takes initiative, and is not afraid of a challenge. She’s an engaging writer with a vibrant voice. Plus, she speaks and writes French! Que c’est beau!
On the Web: University Sponsored Site, Coming Soon
EduStats: University of Southern California
Candidate, M.A. Strategic Public Relations
Graduation Date: May 2010
Skills: Strategic Planning, Social Media, Crisis Communications, Media Relations, Writing, Editing, and All Things French
Mopwater: What made you want to get into this industry?
SH: Honestly, I fell into this industry. I graduated in 2004 with a double major in International Relations and French and I planned to go to law school, but while writing my personal statement, I couldn’t think of a single reason why I wanted to go. Needless to say, it was time to rethink my plans! I decided to take some time away from finding a career and competed as a professional high jumper for about a year before I entered the workforce. My first jobs were less than appealing, but I realized that I enjoyed writing, and when I got the chance to work as a business development/marketing coordinator I jumped on it. To sharpen my skills, I took a few marketing and public relations courses at a local community college and immediately started applying the lessons to my job. However, in the PR course as a final project I designed a campaign for the LA Sparks to increase game attendance and I loved every second of creating it! I decided right then and there that I wanted a career in PR. I applied to USC Annenberg’s M.A. in Strategic Public Relations program and since August 2008, my life has been consumed by PR and I couldn’t be happier!
Mopwater: Describe your work history up to this point. Since you’ll be graduating soon, tell me about your studies and any relevant internships.
SH: I guess my first “real” job after college was as a records department database coordinator for an investment banking firm in Century City, California. I worked mainly as a liaison to the U.S.-based employees with the compliance and legal departments to ensure that the client teams turned in all client files to ensure the firm was protected in case of a lawsuit or regulatory audit. Although the work was not as exciting as I would have liked, I received a good introduction to internal employee communications. The care that I had to put into wording department announcements, messages to employees and the creation of a department manual was eye-opening. The messages needed to be concise and each word carefully chosen so that the importance was conveyed, but that the employee’s attention was kept as well.
I worked next in the corporate marketing department of an economic consulting firm as a business development/ marketing coordinator. My primary responsibility was to assist senior-level staff with creating proposals to attract new business, which could entail anything from proofreading the document to writing the entire proposal. However, my duties became increasingly PR-focused as time went on. I monitored press for mention of company projects, staff and competition; I wrote copy for website publication, news releases and internal employee communications; and I designed marketing materials for conferences and trade shows. At times I would even travel to trade shows to represent the company.
I currently volunteer for TriSight Communications, a student-run public relations agency at USC Annenberg. Working with TriSight has been exciting to say the least! As a member of the agency you have the opportunity to work with an account team to develop strategic plans and integrated public relations plans to support client objectives. I’m the VP of Finance, but this semester I’ll serve as Account Supervisor for my account team as we design a community outreach program, and I’ll be working with another account team on a digital communications strategy.
Mopwater: Which do you like better-journalism or PR?
SH: PR of course! But journalists and public relations professionals have a symbiotic relationship that is here to stay. I prefer PR because at its core, the profession uses all forms of communication to convey its point-of-view to the determined audience(s) while also serving as a trend spotter.
Mopwater: What kind of position are you currently looking for and why should someone hire you?
SH: I’m currently looking for an internship or account executive position with an agency. My interests are in consumer products, gaming, social media/digital communications, sports, healthcare and crisis communications. However, I’m beginning to consider myself a multi-specialist. Many PR strategies and tactics can be applied across disciplines, and I believe that if you take the time to research an industry, company, product, etc. you can construct a relevant and effective plan.
Outside of creativity, strong work ethic, writing and strategic planning skills, I bring a passion for the field. Many people who enter PR as an intern or account executive are still unsure of the career path they want to follow and there is a high level of turnover. I know that PR is the perfect career for me and with my skills and prior work experience I can hit the ground running and become an immediate asset.
Mopwater: What is your ultimate career goal? If you could end up doing anything you wanted in 10 years, what would it be?
SH: My ultimate career goal is to start my own agency or oversee a division within a multi-national agency. While I love planning and implementing amazing tactics, I feel that my strengths are in strategic planning and bringing in new business. The reason why a tactic or overall strategy is designed is more important to me than creating an incredible tactic that does nothing to address the client’s objectives. If you can’t show that your plan is relevant to the client’s needs and determined audiences, what’s the point? So if I am continuously doing that in 10 years (but preferably sooner), I’ll be happy.