Member Profile: Katina Bush
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Marketing Outreach Specialist
Jewish Community Center of San Francisco
Why did you join PRSA and what is one of your favorite benefits that the organization provides?
I was a member of PRSSA in college, and because I valued my experience and the learning opportunities, I decided to join PRSA once I graduated. I wanted to take part in continuing my education, participate in industry activities, and network with other members in an effort to keep improving myself professionally. My favorite benefits are the seminars and webinars. I am all about gaining knowledge and applying the latest tips, tricks and trends to my work and these two offerings allow me to do that and share with my team.
You have been in PR for over7 years. Share a few ways it has changed over the years and where you see it going.
I came into the industry just as social media really started picking up as a method for reaching audiences. Now, social strategy is a must-have in communications and PR plans and programs, not just something you hope and wish you can implement. Talking with faculty at my alma mater, I heard that they now offer full courses on Digital Public Relations and incorporate social media plans into projects, sample campaigns, and case studies. I have also noticed a decline in traditional methods of contact. When I started, you could still reach a journalist or editorial team by phone, but now, with all the online new outlets, email and connection via social media is the most successful way to get in touch.
My current role is incredibly blended. I hold a ‘marketing’ title while I spend most of my time connecting with stakeholders and reaching out to the community in efforts to build awareness and new audiences – something more like a true PR practitioner. Part of this overlap is also related to the increase use of digital strategy in marketing, advertising, and communications programs. With all three utilizing social media, it can be hard to exactly mark the lines between each. I see this convergence of marketing & communications, especially, continuing to become common place as duties for the two exceeding weave together.
Tell us about one of your most memorable experiences during your career.
This is a great question! I had just started as a press relations assistant and I was asked to accompany our talent on a local media tour to various news studios to complete on-air interviews. I spent 3 days with them at multiple locations for morning show segments promoting their upcoming appearance. I learned so much in just those few days about talent relations and working with live news programs and producers, beyond what you could ever gain in a classroom or by reading a book. This experience also provided me with my first ‘mini’ crisis. We had a Latin American actor and actress who were requested to incorporate the Spanish-speaking market with some interviews on the local Univision and Telemundo affiliates, but the actress didn’t speak fluent Spanish. We had told the editors and producers upfront that she would only be able to complete her interviews in English. They were completely understanding and said that it would be no problem and that we could complete them in the same segment to save time. Then, live and on-air, the anchor directed questions to her in Spanish to which she did not completely understand nor knew how to answer. Those moments of confusion on her face and silence seemed to linger on forever. Since we were on set in the background, we motioned to the actor to interject and he smoothly stepped right in with a joke in Spanish to cut the tension. It worked and she piggy-backed on the humor from him (in English, of course) and lightly laughed at herself for freezing up and “being the worst Latina” for not taking an opportunity to develop her Spanish-speaking skills as a child. It all made for a friendly, fun, and great (rare) bilingual segment for their program. However, we were worried that members of the Latino community would be frustrated with us for having a non-Spanish speaking Latina actress complete interviews, but we were actually met with a warm response for including her and being honest about her language skills instead of attempting to fool them and fake it. It all worked out so fabulously!
What’s your best advice to the new generation of PR professionals?
Don’t stop learning. Don’t stop meeting people. This industry, as most, keeps growing and evolving. There will always be something new to learn about or skills to refine. A lot of making it in this line of work is also knowing people and developing relationships. Both learning and fostering relationships will take time, but it will be worth it in the end and will make you all the more successful.