Think back to the last article you read. Whether it was a BuzzFeed post on 12 Animals That Need a Vacation, an investigation into the fancy toast trend that’s taking San Francisco by storm, or a New York Times critique of our society’s obsession with the Young Adult genre, there’s a good chance that a PR person was somehow involved.
Part writer, part storyteller, part salesperson, the PR person works his or her many connections to get a client noticed by reporters, journalists, and other industry influencers.
In today’s post, guest writer Melissa Nguyen interviews Anne Rumberger, Publicity, Marketing, and Sales Manager at The Experiment about her multi-faceted job.
Media is everywhere, and the people spinning the wheels from behind it are there to make sure you don’t miss a beat. PR people have the power to turn even the most mundane of Monday morning news to the most exciting viral tale. From Justin Bieber’s latest antics to J.K. Rowling telling the world that Ron and Hermione should never have been an item, the job of a publicist can be tough. Publicity, Marketing, and Sales Manager Anne Rumberger of New York publishing house The Experiment lays down what it takes to be in PR.
Where do you work and what is your role?
I work at The Experiment, an independent book publishing company based in New York, where I am the Publicity, Marketing, and Sales Manager.
What is a typical day like for you?
My day to day responsibilities vary quite a bit; a good part of my time is spent writing promotional copy, in the form of descriptive copy for galleys, press releases, and pitch letters. I work closely with authors to plan publicity and marketing campaigns, set up book tours and author events, and pitch interviews and features to all types of media outlets. I also design promotional materials, keep our website and blog updated, and as sales manager, track the sales of our books and serve as liaison between our publisher and our distributor and sales reps.
What did you study in school and how has it helped you in your job?
I studied Dramatic Writing at NYU, with a focus in playwriting. I learned a lot about the craft of writing and storytelling, skills that I put to good use as a book publicist. Having a strong foundation in writing and grammar was enormously helpful in every publicist position that I’ve had, because so much of the job is summarizing and selling the book by writing compelling descriptive copy.
How and why did you get into PR?
I didn’t set out to get into PR. Originally I assumed that I wanted to be an editor. But after an eye-opening publishing internship, I found that my skill set and personality were much better suited to publicity. Much more writing and big-picture creative thinking are involved in publicity, and I discovered how much I enjoyed pitching books and linking the content to current events, which meant I was always learning and keeping on top of relevant news.
What characteristics or skills are needed to succeed in PR?
Strong written and oral communication skills are key. Being able to express your ideas and sell your product in a straightforward, enticing, and genuine way are the most important skills to have.
It definitely helps to have true pride and interest in the product you’re selling, which is why I find book publicity so rewarding. It’s also important to be friendly, sociable, eloquent, and enjoy the personal connections with authors (or clients) and media that are so necessary to successfully sell your product. Having photography and design skills are also useful, as well as creative ideas for utilizing social media and building online presence.
What advice do you have for new graduates looking to get into publicity?
I know it’s been said a million times, but honestly the best advice I can give is to make connections with people in the industry that you’d like to get into.
Take people to coffee and ask them questions about their career path, go to industry events and make friends, volunteer at events where you can meet people who do what you’d like to do. Build the skills that will make you the best possible candidate for the position you want, whether that’s coding, design, or familiarizing yourself with the media outlets that you would be pitching.
Go on as many interviews as you can; you will get better with each one you do. And know that your passion and perseverance will pay off!
Homework time! Like the writing aspect of Anne’s job? Make sure you catch our post on working as a copywriter at a creative agency and five other career options for writers you might not have considered.
Melissa Nguyen’s first job right out of college was as a Publicity Assistant; she remembers fondly the first time an author yelled at her. Find more of Melissa’s writing at writingsbymelissanguyen.wordpress.com