Member Profile: Danielle Calhoun
June 26, 2018
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Meet Danielle Calhoun,
Director of Platform Strategy, Weber Shandwick
We periodically feature veteran and new PRSA San Francisco members and tell the story of their public relations career. If you would like to suggest a PRSA San Francisco member for a profile, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why did you join PRSA and what is one of your favorite benefits that the organization provides?
I'm passionate about (okay, maybe obsessed with) helping students unlock the secrets of how to work for an agency. While colleges are teaching the skills students will need, there's often a gap in education about all the different careers you can have, and how to actually get your foot in the door. I joined PRSA to partner with their committees on developing events that will help connect diverse young professionals with how to land their dream career.
Tell us about one of your most memorable experiences during your career.
One of my favorite career memories is living in and working in London for a month last year. As a kid, we didn't travel or take family vacations further than a few hours from home. It wasn't until a high school band trip when I had the chance to travel abroad to march in the London New Year's Day parade – and I was hooked. Fast forward many years, and I made it my goal to work abroad. Whenever I asked for advice, most people's reactions were "That's too hard, you're never going to be able to do it." Well, I did. And I'm here to tell you, dear reader, that whatever you dream of doing, keep hustling and find a way to make it happen. For me, the solution was doing great work for a global PR firm, and making the business case for why they should support allowing me to work from London for a month. It's easy for everyone else to tell you that you "can't do" something. Ignore them, and make your own path.
You have been in PR for over 10 years. Share a few ways it has changed over the years and where you see it going.
Rather than fixating on how much the PR industry has changed over the past ten years, I think it's wildly more interesting to look at what's stayed the same – and what will continue to stay the same. The number one skill you need to thrive in an agency is great writing. Full stop. Whether you were writing a press release to fax to the media (real example from a job I had ten years ago), writing copy for a social media ad, or emailing a client, your grammar, spelling, and tone of voice are critical. I can't imagine this will ever change.
What's your best advice to the new generation of PR professionals?
Make connections, and get really good at going out for coffee. Getting your foot in the door at a company can be daunting, and applying for hundreds of jobs online isn't the most efficient way to get your start. Make a LinkedIn account (I hope you already have one!), and look for people you know (or friends of friends) who work at companies you'd like to work for. Reach out and ask for an introduction, then ask that person out for coffee to 'pick their brain.' Come prepared with questions and insightful things to say, then make your big ask: literally ask them to introduce you to the person doing the hiring, or to pass along your resume. Keep reaching out, keep asking, and keep going out for coffee. It only takes on 'yes' to potentially land your dream job, so don't be afraid when someone says no. Just keep hunting for a 'yes.'