From The Weather Channel to PR for Turner Sports::Test Drive My Job Tareia Williams

Tareia Williams,28

Current City: Atlanta, GA

Senior Publicist

Company: Turner Sports

@TurnerSportsPR,  @TNicolePR

Mopwater: Describe your path to PR. TW: Originally from Kansas City, Missouri I decided to come to Atlanta, Georgia and study Mass Communications with a concentration in public relations at Clark Atlanta University. I always knew that I wanted to be somewhere behind the camera making things happen. I first dipped my toe into the pool of publicity as a PR intern at The Weather Channel. I worked there for a few years and was able to help launch the original series Storm Stories and gather publicity for the new website, weather.com.  After that experience, I ended up at a telecom boutique agency, Calysto Communications where I was able to get my feet wet in the telecom PR industry. A completely different beast than television, my experience at Calysto helped me learn the telecom industry and become interested in the evergreen digital space.  I left there to take a position at Stearns Johnson Communications which allowed me to use my tech experience on mobile clients and consumer clients. Learning new skills and techniques along the way, prepared me for the position that I have today.

Mopwater: Describe a pivotal moment in your career. Did you have a mentor or internship that really solidified your interest in this field or helped you hone in on a specific focus area? TW: I have had a few pivotal moments in my career but the biggest one was pitching the Weather Channel original series Storm Stories. I got my first hit in USA Today. As a student just learning how to pitch and how to work with media, this was big. I was so excited and that is when the bug hit me. I knew I was doing what I wanted to do.

Mentors are very important to me and I’ve been blessed to meet some dynamic women in PR that have helped me along the way.  As I get further along in my career, it is important that I reach back and become a mentor to those individuals that are just starting out in this field or looking to grow.

Mopwater: Describe a typical workday including your work hours. What do you do all day? Describe your office setting and workplace. TW: In this field, we know there is no “typical” workday.  Most days I work from 9-6 with constant check-ins on the blackberry (after 6) but during our signature tent pole events (MLB Postseason on TBS, NBA season, NBA All-Star, Playoffs) my hours vary.  Most of my days, I’m working on pitches and securing interviews for our talent and sports properties, writing releases/advisories, talking to media and trash-talking about last night’s game to my office mates.  The office environment is one of those places where you can freely boast about your team winning, trash talk about your fantasy league or throw ideas around about what would be cool to do next. My work area consists of lots of post-its (for my random, one-off ideas or thoughts) and a flat screen TV to keep up with what’s on our networks.

Mopwater: What are your favorite and least favorite PR tasks and why? TW: Favorite: Explaining the significance of social media of our brands to C-level executives; Least Favorite:  Embracing the fact that my memory is deteriorating, it’s the curse of constantly multi-tasking.

Mopwater: Who are some of your (or your company/organization’s) clients, and what kind of projects do you take on for these clients? If you work in government or a corporate communications office, describe the work you do in your role. TW: I handle PR for Turner Sports’ digital properties which include: NBA Digital, PGA.com, PGATOUR.COM, NASCAR.COM, NCAA Digital. For each of these properties I monitor trends with web traffic, pitch media on new online content (webisodes, etc.) and assist with the monitoring of their social media footprint.

Mopwater: Describe a recent project where you produced results of which you’re really proud. TW: I developed an online live chat series with our studio talent (MLB on TBS, NBA, NASCAR on TNT) so that fans could ask them questions through Facebook and Twitter.  Now the chat series is implemented into our PR activities for each property.

Mopwater: What is your favorite thing about this job and do you think you’ll be in this position in 5 years? TW: I hope so! I love the fast-paced environment and the fact that we are constantly growing within the digital space. From live viewing on mobile apps to acquiring new digital properties, Turner Sports is rapidly growing and I’m so blessed to be apart of it.

Mopwater: What aspect of the industry are you most excited about? TW: I love the fact that PR has evolved. There are still those traditional PR exces that are nervous about change, but if PR executives didn’t adapt to what’s going in our industry, we would be stale. That’s what makes a PR person a PR rockstar – being able to adapt just as quickly as the industry changes.  Pretty soon, there will be a new title for a “PR professional” or “publicist” that will include marketing, branding, advertising, etc.……I’m curious to see what it will be.

Mopwater: If you could work on any dream project of your choosing, what would it be? TW: Hmm a dream project. Honestly, I’m working on one of my dreams right now. But another would be to start an African-American media company that would provide all the media needs (PR, branding, advertising, marketing, sales) for small to large minority companies.

Mopwater: What if anything would you have done differently in your career up to this point and what advice would you give someone who is trying to break into your field? TW: I wouldn’t have done anything differently. I love the way my path has zig-zagged and brought me to where I am now. It’s like playing a game of chess and I didn’t even know I was doing it. Each skill set that I’ve learned or improved has helped me along the way and allowed me to bridge what I’ve learned (tech, digital media) to what I love (sports).

Advice I would give someone entering this field: Get an internship! Get more than one and write, write and write.  Each internship provides you with an opportunity to apply your book knowledge to real-work situations. I learned a lot through my internships and that is where I developed my passion for working in television.  Writing is essential in this field. Taking ideas and crafting them into a release is what we do and being a skilled writer will make this a piece of cake. Also – be personable. Relationships with the media, peers and colleagues can take you a long way.

Indeed.

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