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Interview with a PR Professional

Recently, I interviewed Gary Kimler, Southeastern University Public Relations Director. I was looking forward to hearing from a PR professional and gaining as much knowledge as I could from him. Kimler was very open and helpful during the interview and I appreciated how gracious he was to spend time talking with a college student. I was inspired to do this kind of thing in the future when hopefully students come to me for help.

Kimler’s educational background started with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications from the University of South Florida. He also was in the U.S. and attended journalism school provided by the Army. Before working in Public Relations, Kimler worked as a journalist in various newspapers: including The Tampa Tribune and the Lakeland Ledger. Kimler said that education prepared him, but nothing was like the “real world” experience.

Although there is no “typical” day or week for a PR professional, Kimler shared with me some typical things that do occur on the job. “Inquiries from the media, writing press releases, handling unexpected matters, and greeting media are just some of the things I do,” said Kimler.

Being a PR director at a private university can be a difficult task. When doing this job, one has to be away who is on campus, if they are media or not, and what type of story are they trying to get. These situations get even more serious because the campus is private property. Kimler said one of his main jobs is being a diplomat to the media that visit the campus. He stressed how tough it is to not be rude, but to be stern when the media is causing problems on campus. One of Kimler’s main goals is to keep good relations with the media, but also protect the university he is representing.

Even though Kimler has been working at Southeastern for about a year, he has worked large-scale events like the Southeastern University Leadership Forum. During this annual event, famous leaders are brought in to speak to people on the campus. This is a major event that has brought in names like Tony Dungy, Colin Powell, Jack Welch, and last year former President of the United States George W. Bush and his wife. This large event surprisingly doesn’t have as many people as I thought working on it. For this reason, Kimler has a lot of work set out for him every year. It is definitely a year round struggle to organize such a huge event. Kimler works hard during the half-week at the Forum. During this time, countless media outlets are on the campus and each speaker has deferent stipulations with the media. Kimler’s job during this time is to organize the media in line with all these different stipulations and rules. He also makes sure all things run smoothly on the media and communications side of the event.

Kimler was more than happy to share some helpful tips about Public Relations. Though he gave me many tips, three tips stuck out to me. “Never lie, never say no comment, and prepare, prepare, prepare,” said Kimler. This tips, though simple, can help a PR professional practice their job at a high level.

Kimler noted that “Nothing is more important than writing skills,” when working as PR professional. Also, he made sure to share with me that this job is all about communication and being a true diplomat.

I was very fortunate to have the chance to interview Mr. Gary Kimler. His advice truly helped me and I will try to apply the techniques he taught me to my professional career. I would like to thank Mr. Kimler again for being so gracious and letting me gain a little insight on a PR professional’s career.

 

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