Just trying to RELATE…

My Chat with PR PRO, Marla Bruner

Posted in Assignments,PR Praticum by meshae on April 2, 2010

Recently, I was fortunate enough to sit down and interview Georgia Southern University (GSU) alum and Public Relations professional Marla Bruner.

Ms. Bruner has been in the field since 1999, the year she graduated from Georgia Southern. Currently working as the internal communications manager for GSU, she had a lot of valuable information to offer. I can honestly say that I left her office motivated and even more excited about starting my career.

As Ms. Bruner and I talked, she really confirmed many things that my professors had already said.

She graduated from Georgia Southern with a Communications degree and is now working on her Master’s degree in Literature. Because she is a GSU alum, I felt a real connection to her and was interested in all she had to say.

I started the interview asking how prepared she felt after graduation. Her response was very encouraging. “Coursework gives you an idea of what you’re getting into,” said Bruner. She ensured me that there is “a means to the madness” of the sometimes frustrating coursework of your undergraduate career.

As we began to talk about today’s “college student,” Ms. Bruner emphasized the opportunities college students have these days. She also talked about how students underestimate their experiences and complain about inadequate resumes.

“Students have many opportunities to get experience,” Ms. Bruner said. “The question is, what translates as experience?”

College offers students many opportunities to gain experience for their prospective careers. Students should take advantage of those opportunities and get involved. By doing so, their “experience” could land them great jobs and careers. Ms. Bruner advises students to “put on their PR hats” and thoroughly explain their experience and what they can offer future employers. As PR students, we are trained to do a variety of things and it’s important to be able to get that message across when applying for jobs.

Ms. Bruner’s everyday responsibilities reflect the amount of variety and flexibility needed in the PR world.

At Georgia Southern, Ms. Bruner is the informational “go-to” person. Partnering with Information Technology services, she updates the university calendar with new dates and events. She also populates the university’s homepage and is partly responsible for the new MyGeorgiaSouthern layout and design. Atop her informational responsibilities, Ms. Bruner also works closely with campus departments and organizations. Although the university has its own graphic design department, her knowledge allows her to design things as well.

And when it comes to writing, Ms. Bruner’s remarks were not surprising. “I write every day all day,” said Ms. Bruner. She shared that taking classes that highlight writing for electronic media can be very beneficial. She also emphasized how important it is to be familiar with the different types of formatting involved in public relations writing.

Basically, she was saying, “learn everything.”

The life of a public relations pro is very busy. Ms. Bruner revealed that she completes about 14-15 projects a day.I quickly realized how important it is to be a well-rounded Public Relations professional.

Below, you’ll find Ms. Bruner’s 3 tips to someone just starting out in Public Relations:

  1. Do the work for them. Give your publishers and designers a break by doing most of the work for them. This way you can guarantee a good relationship and also be sure the final product is 100% correct.
  2. Be in contact…constantly. When working with clients, be sure to stay in contact. Being in contact with them ensures that you’re doing the job they expect and are happy with. As the PR professional, your responsibility is to make the client happy.
  3. Prioritize by audience. Know your target audience. Your public relations attempts may go unnoticed if you fail to identify your audience.

When asked what she wished she’d known before graduating, I was a bit surprised by her response. Ms. Bruner spoke of the myths that surround protected salaries and life after college. “Your job won’t be about just public relations or marketing,” Ms. Bruner said. She shared how important it is to be familiar with the entire office/organization. Students should also save their work. “Keep everything,” she advised. This helps the portfolio-building process a lot easier.

Since graduating college, she’s been able to see the “major shift from print to web” firsthand.

“Today’s communication industry is very fast-paced,” she said. “People expect a response immediately these days, so you only get one chance.”

Ms. Bruner said it is a must that a public relations professional be “constantly updated,” because time is of the essence.

I wrapped up my interview with Ms. Bruner with what I think was one of the most important questions I asked.

What makes someone a good candidate for a job? What makes he/she stand out?

“How one would handle certain situations is one of the most important things to learn during the hiring process,” said Ms. Bruner.

She also listed having examples of a candidate’s work in a digital portfolio and the ability to manage crisis as other important factors. When hiring, Ms. Bruner said, “I wanna see it, not hear it.”

Overall, my chat with Ms. Bruner was amazing and she made me really excited about graduating and beginning my career in Public Relations. To view some of her work, visit www.georgiasouthern.edu.


8 Responses to 'My Chat with PR PRO, Marla Bruner'

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  1. Natalia said,

    I really enjoyed this post. Ms. Bruner’s three tips will be very helpful to me as I continue to look for internship and employment opportunities. In class we constantly talk about knowing your audience and making sure we are creating messages that are appropriate for that particular audience. In public relations that is one of the most important points that has ever been made. Also, staying in contact with a client is reassuring to them that you are constantly working on their behalf. It shows that you are dedicated and willing to do what it takes to make them a success and keep them in a positive light. Again, great post!

  2. […] My Chat with PR PRO, Marla Bruner by MeShae Hankerson […]

  3. jameskick said,

    I also enjoy the three points that Marla makes. So many times we forget how complicated it can be to hand over our work to other people. If we take a moment to take the guess work out of our own personal work, then the final product will be better as we exercise control over it. Thanks for your thoughts!

  4. […] MeShae Hankerson’s blog: Interview with Marla […]

  5. Jacqueline said,

    I found this interview to be very informative. I think I enjoyed it more than other interviews I have read because I can relate to it more than the others. I think that it is more appealing to me because the interviewee is a Georgia Southern graduate. I feel like I am constantly hearing others say that people who graduate from other “more challenging” schools have a higher chance of getting a job than GSU graduates. Marla is an example proving that this is not the case. You can graduate from GSU and still get a good PR job. It is encouraging to hear her thoughts and the description of her job.

  6. kbixby1 said,

    Hi Meshae!
    I read your blog about your PR Professional Interview with Marla Bruner. I found it interesting that she is a graduate of Georgia Southern and is now working here as the internal communications manager. Her job seems very interesting and I would have never thought that her job title would involve so much public relations work. I guess a lot of PR jobs do not always have a PR title. I also liked how you included Ms. Bruner’s three tips for someone who is just starting out in Public Relations. It is funny because my PR Professional also said to be in contact! Thanks for the great advice!

  7. […] 11. Meshae Hankerson- My Chat with PR Pro-Marla Bruner […]

  8. katiann4710 said,

    After reading this post, I felt excited too about entering into the PR world. Marla Bruner’s tips were very helpful. Three simple tips put into perspective for someone starting out in the field is the type of thing many of us out there are looking for. I would have to say that I admire her for writing all the time. I do love to write, but I would rather be in personal communication with clients and such. This post was very interesting, thanks for the interview information.
    -Kati Ann

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