Five Minutes With… Kelly Hale

Vrooooom. Just like the drivers on the track, the pr professionals behind the scenes of auto racing are also used to fast-paced action. From traveling across the country for different races, to ensuring positive stories are published in the press, the life of a public relations director in this industry is anything but easy.

I had the opportunity of meeting Kelly Hale this past June at the Salhen’s 6 Hours of the Glen race at Watkins Glen International. She gave me some great pointers on how to land a coveted job in this business and also agreed to let me interview her when we both came home to Kansas City.

Me: So many young public relations professionals, including myself, hope to work in the auto racing industry, but what most don’t understand is how fast-paced the industry really is. Can you briefly explain your daily responsibilities as director of public relations at Kansas Speedway? And how do those daily responsibilities change during a race weekend?

Kelly: First, this is one of my favorite questions. Unfortunately, (but sometimes fortunately) no two days are alike. The two things I try to do every day are reading the latest local and national news, and I try to reach out to 2-3 reporters each day. From there, it really depends on the time of year. I could be promoting one of the events that we will have staff, I could be assisting with promotion of an event at the track, an upcoming driver appearance, etc. On race weekend, in addition to handling media relations for the Speedway, which includes setting up on site interviews, answering media questions, making sure the media center and press box are staffed and media have the appropriate credentials, I also am responsible for our pre-race activities which include driver introductions, pre-race concerts, post-race concerts, scheduling color guard, invocation and national anthem, making sure the appropriate people are introduced at the driver’s meetings, escorting VIPs and assigning driver/owner motorcoach spaces for the weekend. Fortunately, I have a great media center staff that can essentially run the media center without me! The staff is able to answer about 95% of the questions we get, which helps me be able to focus on the large items that need to be taken care of during a weekend.

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Five Minutes With… Cliff Callis

Public relations has always been about image management, social media, handling crises, writing press releases and pitching stories to journalists, but what happens when you integrate public relations with marketing?

I spoke with Cliff Callis, president of Callis Integrated Marketing, to see what a career in integrated marketing is all about.

Me: Most marketers believe integrated marketing is about message and content consistency across multiple channels and that each channel plays its own role in a campaign. How would you define integrated marketing?

Cliff: I would definitely have to agree that the message is key with most, if not all, integrated marketing campaigns. But the message isn’t the only thing that is important. Within an integrated marketing campaign, everything works together, complements and reinforces each other in order to create a cohesiveness across all mediums. There are certain exceptions where different things have to be said to different people on different channels. When this happens, obviously the message changes, but the other elements stay as consistent as possible, so that people will know they are still part of the campaign.

So, I would define integrated marketing as multiple channels working together and complementing each other to create the best possible campaign for the client.

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Opportunities Arise When You Least Expect It

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I was sitting on my couch, relaxing and watching some TV, when my phone made its doorbell sound, indicating that I had received a new email. Not expecting anything but another advertisement from Apple, I left it alone and continued watching my television program. But after I turned off the lights and decided to go to bed, I took a peek at that email and realized it wasn’t just another ad from Apple, it was actually an internship opportunity! Now back in January, I had applied for a million and one internships, hoping to get one (and I did!). I thought that since these companies had not contacted me, they simply weren’t interested. But that wasn’t the case! This lady had kept my resume on file and sent me an email when she had an open internship position available!

So there went my whole philosophy of “don’t send out a resume unless you qualify for the job.” It turns out that if they like you on paper, they will probably keep you around for a while, just incase they have any other positions become available.

Now, this is my last semester at UCM and I had no intentions of holding an internship this fall. I wanted to ensure that my final semester was a success both academically and organization wise (I’m the president of UCM’s chapter of PRSSA) and I didn’t want anything getting in the way of it. But when I received this internship opportunity via email, I immediately said, give it a chance and just take a look at the company. Turns out, I really loved the company and their mission, so it seemed like a match made in heaven. And needless to say, I went in for an interview and came out two hours later as their new Fall Intern.

So don’t ever turn down an opportunity because you don’t think your schedule can handle. Challenge your limits, go that extra mile, work like you never have before – do whatever you have to do so that you NEVER MISS AN OPPORTUNITY.

Have you ever had an opportunity find you? I’d love to hear about it!

Five Minutes With… Kurt Austin

Sports. Everyone loves to watch them and almost everyone wants to work in the industry. Landing one of these highly coveted jobs can be anything but easy, but with the right skills, connections and drive, you could find yourself in the press box at the next World Cup, Stanley Cup or Super Bowl.

I spoke with Kurt Austin, Communications Manager for Sporting KC, to see what working in soccer, especially MLS, is all about.

Me: Working in sports is a busy, but exciting career path. What are your daily responsibilities as press officer for Sporting Kansas City?

Kurt: My daily responsibilities can vary greatly from one week to the next, which is part of the fast-paced nature of professional sports. At a broad level, our communications department is tasked with generating positive and continuous coverage of the club. This means working with local, regional and national media members to facilitate interviews while also maximizing the use of the team’s digital properties to showcase player personalities and promote upcoming events. Of course, there is much more that happens behind-the-scenes in sports PR — especially on gamedays — but ultimately it all serves to foster greater interest and interaction amongst those who follow the team (fans and media alike).

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Home is Where the Heart Is

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My whirlwind beginning of July has come to an end. From flying to New York and back, to Regina, to Kelowna and then back to Regina, I’m now on my way back to reality in Kansas City. But as I sit and wait in the ground floor of the Toronto Pearson airport (they literally stuck us in the back corner), I find myself reminiscing of the amazing 10 days I was fortunate enough to spend with my family.

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In the End, All We Have Are Our Memories

As soon as I got home from New York two weekends ago, I emptied my suitcase and began packing for my trip home to Canada. I can say that so far, July has been a month of traveling and I couldn’t be happier with it. Although this trip home is much more special than any other trip I’ve ever made because it just may be the last. My family has decided to move to the west coast, so it’s bye-bye beautiful flat Saskatchewan farmland and hello to the warm coastline of beautiful British Columbia.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m quite excited they’ve decided to move, but leaving the home I grew up in, well that’s not so exciting. I’ve begun packing up my bedroom, sorting it into “Keep” and “Don’t Keep” piles, while reminiscing with my parents about the stories and memories associated with each material item. From toy John Deere tractors and Hot Wheels to my Easy-Bake Oven, each item is laced with memories upon memories that I never want to forget. But hoarding my old toys and keepsakes won’t keep those memories alive.

Life happens and memories are made from the people we share our moments with, not the material items we used in those moments. And in the end, it’s not our toys and keepsakes that will make us happy, it’s our memories.

5 Essentials for PR Newbies

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Recently graduated and think you have what it takes to make it in the world of public relations? Well, you may want to think again and do some research before entering the ever-changing field of public relations.

The pr industry is constantly changing, with the evolution of the Internet and the introduction of social media platforms, pr professionals continually have to keep up with the new technological advances of the times. Most likely, they are not set to an eight-hour work day and sometimes they even work on weekends. And with numerous competitors out there, you have to be savvy enough to deliver exactly what the client wants, with a price tag they are willing to agree on.

So if you think you have what it takes, here’s what you need to do:

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Industry Talk: Auto Racing

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Pursuing a career in the world of sports is on the mind of most recent public relations graduates. Despite the increased demand for sports related jobs, there are simply way too many applicants for the number of positions available. One industry in particular that is rising in popularity is auto racing. Be it NASCAR, NHRA, Tudor United SportsCar Championship, Formula 1, or any other racing circuit, jobs in this industry are in high demand. So what can you do to stand out in the crowd and ensure you get one of these awesome and coveted jobs?

Recently, I attended the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, which is part of the Tudor Championship Series, at Watkins Glen International in New York. Unlike a normal race enthusiast who attended the race purely for entertainment, I was there to learn. I had credentials that got me into each and every area of the track, so that I could experience a behind the scenes view of what it takes to make it in the auto racing industry. As a guest of ZF Motorsports, a large sponsor of the series, I was able to interview Andy Lally, driver for Magnus Racing, and see the journalistic and pr side of working for a large sponsor company. One of my professors also works in the industry, as the pr guy for Alex Job Racing, so I was also fortunate enough to see what his job entails before, during and after the race. But I also had the opportunity of meeting the director of public relations for Kansas Speedway and had the chance to ask her some questions regarding the industry.

Here are the tips I took away that will hopefully help me land a job in auto racing upon graduation.

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