In my Public Relations Writing course at Marquette University, our professor occasionally brings in guest speakers that help us students see how what we learn is applied in the workplace. This week, Tami Kou, the Director of Public Affairs at Aurora Sinai Health Care System came to speak with us about Public Relations and what she does on a day-to-day basis. I found everything she spoke about very informational and necessary to know for my future career. It is always helpful to speak with people who are actually out there doing what I hope to do one day in order to gain more understanding and excitement about Public Relations as a whole.
Tami is in Public Affairs, and she said that this is more of an overarching title than Public Relations by itself, and deals more with reputation management, which means that her job consists of trying to make Aurora Sinai look good in the eyes of the their stakeholders, which could be anyone from potential customers, to the government, members of the community, potential caregivers, donors, volunteers and the media. I find this information very helpful, because I further understand what kind of stakeholders are interested in companies like Aurora.
Tami then talked about her top three duties in her job: working with the media, working with the government/community, and handling crisis/sensitive issues. When she talked about working with the media, I was especially intrigued by her descriptions of defining what is “newsworthy”. She laid out seven elements: new, unusual, timely, significant, conflict, controversy and human interest, and she explained how these come together to make news “newsworthy”. Something else I found especially interesting was her tidbit on reporters, and how they meet twice a day, early in the morning and again in the afternoon. This information is very good to know for if I am a Public Relations Practitioner and want to send information to the media, then I know when to send it.
The next duty she spoke about was working with the government and the community, in which she mainly spoke about how important it is to maintain good will with key stakeholders. She said a good question to ask yourself is “What messages do I have to get out and who do I want to connect with?” I think I will find this very helpful for my future in the Communications realm.
Finally was her last duty of handling crisis and sensitive issues. She said that her main job is to safeguard Aurora’s reputation, and to minimize the impact of negative situations that occur. In order to do this, it is important to collect all of the information as if you were a reporter and have a statement ready to go to quickly respond to the media if necessary.
I learned a lot from Tami Kou’s visit to my Public Relations Writing class, and I think I will be able to use a lot of the information she spoke about in my future career!