Networking my way from one informational interview to the next, many of them set up by impressively collegial competitors, I have been heartened to hear words like "writing" and "thought" uttered in all seriousness. As a reporter I had the impression that p.r. people spend all day, every day, phoning reporters and saying, "Did you get my fax?" Some do, but for most, the bulk of the work consists of arranging ideas. This actually is what I went to college for.
Gina Seamans of JohnstonWells, for one, told me that most of her day is dedicated to writing -- a task that, for me, is equivalent to thinking. Larry Holdren of Pure Brand Communications commented that publicity tactics should come easily after the real work -- deciding what the client wants to be famous for -- is done. Karen Morales of Communication Infrastructure Group told me about some of the nuances among subspecialties that would escape the uninitiated, such as the distinction between public relations and public affairs. Brad Bawmann of The Bawmann Group told me not to fret about being "midcareer" because I have abilities that new grads can't and don't have. Steven Shapiro of CSG recognized my interest in education and gave me some work with his education practice!
And I'm not done yet... people have been so generous with sharing contacts, I have meetings scheduled two weeks out.
Some firms have sleek offices meant to communicate a sense of style; others have no office at all, and instead "co-locate" staff at clients' locations or work out of home offices. Either way, I'm learning, it's what's upstairs that counts. And that is a place where I feel perfectly at home.