Professor Jenison is an Athletics Media Relations Writer for Indiana State University sports. In a nut-shell it is his responsibility to keep statistics and player stories up to date, make yearbooks for the respective sports, write news releases, and to also maintain the websites of each sport. This, however, is not how I came into contact with Mr. Jenison. He is my professor for my Media Writing class. In addition to being a Media Relations writer, he is also an instructor in the Communication Department at ISU. I talked with Mr. Jenison to learn a little bit more about what working in Public Relations is like for him day to day.
ME: What’s a typical week like? (If no week is typical, then what was last week like?)
JENISON: Working in athletic media relations means that there is not a typical week with athletic events occurring on any given day of the week. That being said, a “typical” week at the present time begins Monday mornings with updating records and statistics from the action over the weekend. That is usually followed by filing reports with the conference regarding Athletes of the Week nominations. By the time the afternoon comes around, I begin to prepare releases for the next competition. Since I am responsible for track & field, cross country, and women’s golf, I usually have several stories in the works at the same time. Tuesday’s are usually spent talking with the coaches, writing releases on any national or conference honors, and updating each sports weekly notebook. Wednesday’s are spent finishing up the notebooks and finalizing pre-competition releases. Thursday and Friday are a little more relaxed but somehow I always seem to keep busy preparing for the weekend.
ME: Tell me about a project you worked on that you are especially proud of. (ex: column or article)
JENISON: This year I have been writing the feature stories for men’s and women’s basketball along with football during the past fall. I do take great pride in writing these stories, bringing a more humanistic side to the athletes I write about instead of just recanting their statistics from the season. I find the athletes interesting and their stories about how they started in their respective spots and why they chose Indiana State to be entertaining. The parents must also think so because I have received several thank you letters from them. This is a special time for the athletes and a special time for their families. To know that people actually read the articles does make me feel good.
ME: What do you do to keep current in the PR industry?
JENISON: The PR industry is a multi-faceted field so keeping up with everything would be a little daunting. I do stay up to date by reading articles sent via email to me from our association (College Sports Information Directors of America) which pull a lot of their articles from PR websites. I also belong to the PRSA. When time permits, I also research stories concerning facets of this occupation that I feel I need to improve on. Teaching also helps in this regards.
ME: What do you wish you would have known before starting your career in PR?
JENISON: I grew up in the journalism business so there was not much I did not know about PR before beginning my career. That being said, I would also acknowledge that the ability to develop public relations strategies was a weakness I had and I could have used more experience in developing those skills.
ME: How important is writing in your career?
JENISON: Writing is essential in any career that you choose. It is just more important in the PR industry because you are in the game of persuasion. Careful word choice, grammar usage, and the knowledge of how to put a story together are important for any writer who wants to be read. Someone who does not take these items into consideration will probably end up on the assembly line and not doing what they thought the loved.
ME: What three tips would you offer someone just starting out in PR?
JENISON: Absorb the AP Stylebook. It contains a vast amount of knowledge that is useful to anyone in the Communications industry. I would also recommend buying a grammar book and reviewing it. The most sought after writers are those that know how sentences are structured and how to use words effectively. Finally, I would recommend reading. It is only through seeing how others write that you can improve your own writing.
ME: How does technology affect your daily work?
JENISON: The increased importance of social media has drastically changed how this industry works especially the use of Twitter. It is a good exercise to try to disseminate the most important information in 140 characters or less without the use of shortcuts or abbreviations. That forces you to concentrate on the most important information and relaying that to your readers. Those comfortable with social media are becoming the most sought after employees.
I am very please that I chose to do my spotlight over Mr. Jenison. Not only did I learn stuff about a professsor that I would likely have never known, but he was able to give me good information to help me better understand the world of Public Relations.