Today was PRSA Dallas Pro-Am Day is a yearly event that gives college student to shadow local public relations and communications professionals in a nonprofit, corporate or agency setting. I was paired with Laura Mason who is a corporate communication advisor in public and government affairs at ExxonMobil, who has its headquarters in Irving.
The Dallas headquarters are home to a few hundred people, but Exxon’s largest campus is in the Woodlands, right outside of Houston. Mason says that it works for company to keep the corporate headquarters separate from the day-to-day operations- a lot of the Houston staff are responsible for the upstream operations of the company.
ExxonMobil is divided into many global brands and business lines, each section of the company communicates to different audiences. ExxonMobil’s corporate audience consists of thought leaders in the industry- people who tend to be highly educated and influential people in the industry.
Mason talked about some new goals that the company the company has for the website. They are in the process of making all of the brand’s websites are visually similar and making sure that the entire website is mobile and tablet friendly.
I was really happy to be assigned to Laura. I have an interest in government affairs and political communication, but I have never considered working in that role from a corporate side.
Lunch was at Brinker International, the company who own all the Chili’s Bars and Grills and Maggiano’s. A panel of professionals was moderated by PRSA Dallas President and Q Mobius President and CEO Carolyn Covey Morris; on the panel was Ashley Johnson, senior public relations manager at Brinker, Donna Coletti, Director of International Communications and Market Research at Texas Instruments and Jane Koenecke, vice president of creative communication and events at Interstate Batteries.
These ladies gave us advice on everything from what professionals look for when hiring interns or entry-level employees to learning how to use analytics to prove your worth as communications to management. Some of the advice they gave:
- Know the culture of the company that you are applying to
- Be flexible (be willing to do anything)
- Think about how you can make a difference at the company
- Be ready for teamwork
- Don’t apply for a position you don’t really want
- Use metrics to engage your audiences, but understand the power of insight, not just numbers
- Write meaningful thank you letters to potential employers (“without the specificity, it’s just another email/letter)
Thank you to Laura and sharing the morning with me and another student from UT-Arlington. And thank you to PRSA Dallas for hosting this event and giving area public relations student this opportunity to step into the professional world.