Interviewer: What would a day in the life of a public relations professional look like?
Me: *Rattles off a list of tasks*
Interviewer: What would a day in the life of a government relations professional look like?
Me: *Looks dumbfounded*
After taking countless college courses and completing an internship or two in public relations, I feel confident in my knowledge of what a PR role entails. As a Bravo Group intern, however, I’ve had the opportunity to gain understanding of an entirely new role.
On Jan. 23, I had the privilege of shadowing one of our government relations professionals, Margaret Durkin. I left myself open-minded going into the day because I realized I had no context with regard to a government relations role.
Before my shadow day, Margaret prepped me on client background information and current issues, leaving me eager to see the preparation come into play. One thing Margaret kept reiterating, without referencing it directly, was the variability her role entails. In the life of a government relations professional, no two days are the same. After spending only a few hours with her, I realized the truth that statement held. No two hours were the same.
I had the chance to witness Margaret’s work firsthand as we met with a freshman legislator, caught the end of a vape rally and completed administrative tasks all within the parameters of Harrisburg’s Capitol.
The totality of the day showed me a significant factor in Margaret’s role: building relationships. The client meeting with the freshman legislator was a direct means of establishing a connection to build a relationship, while the friendly greetings in hallway passings proved to be an indirect means of relationship building.
It was easy to see the value Margaret places on the people she interacts with at the Capitol, from the legislators to the security guard at the front door, with whom she’s built a friendship.
It was a learning experience to break out of the writing corner for the day. My time with Margaret allowed me to see Bravo Group more as a whole rather than my small role. I learned how public relations, government relations, media relations and other aspects work together to make the firm succeed.
I want to encourage young and seasoned learners alike to challenge themselves with opportunities outside of their realms of knowledge or expertise. I like to think I learned a lot in college, but in all honesty I still have a lot to learn. I could’ve sat and interviewed Margaret regarding her role, but seeing her send emails in between meetings and catch legislators in passing left me with a visual I’ll hold onto longer than a few words on paper.
Bree Whitelock | Harrisburg Writing Intern