‘Living Legends’ Offer Career Tips to PR Students

Cheryl Procter Rogers and Ray Kotcher with moderator Maret Montanari.

Nearly 1,000 students woke up early Sunday morning in hip-and-happening Austin, Texas to have breakfast with some 30 PR pros and educators. What followed was a panel discussion where two “living legends” offered advice on how to turn college experiences into successful careers.

University of Alabama senior Maret Montanari led the advice-rich conversation with Ray Kotcher and Cheryl Procter-Rogers, APR, both of whom have received PRSA’s Gold Anvil for career achievement. Ray now teaches at Boston University after a 30-year career at Ketchum, which included 15 years as CEO. Cheryl is president of her own consulting firm, A Step Ahead PR & Coaching. Maret, PRWeek’s Outstanding Student of the Year 2018, is director of Capstone Agency, a 116-person student-run integrated communications firm.

“If you follow your passion, you’re probably going to do well,” Ray told the aspiring PR pros. He then offered seven tips on how they can get noticed by hiring managers (summarized below by DePaul PRSSA).

I wholeheartedly endorse his third point above that students should stretch their academic comfort zones by taking business-focused courses. He teaches such a course and uses the book written by Matt Ragas and me, Business Essentials for Strategic Communicators.

Cheryl urged students to invest 20 minutes each week to their careers by identifying and nurturing their mentor relationships, expanding their networks and researching areas of the industry that interest them. She also recommended three books: There is Life After College, Knock Em Dead and The First 90 Days.

Stressing the importance of building your network, Cheryl emphasized, “It’s not just about who you know, but what they know about you.”

A highlight of the annual PRSSA National Conference for the past 12 years, the Living Legends panel is sponsored by the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations.

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