TOW 6 Corporate PR Interview: Leigh Graham
27/10/2010 § Leave a comment
For my Corporate PR Pro interview I had the opportunity to chat with Leigh Graham, who is the director at The USO Guam. Being a small, but efficient branch of The USO, there isn’t a specific PR specialist, however that doesn’t stop Ms. Graham from performing all the duties of a PR practitioner. Ms. Graham graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in international business and has had the opportunity to work closely with PR professionals and use her business and public relations ethics to not only better serve The USO but to connect with people around the world. I was able it sit down with Ms. Graham via Skype and have a chat about how public relations plays an important role in her everyday work life, ways of using social media as a PR outlet, and got some helpful tips on how to make it in the field of PR.
Ms. Graham started the interview by saying what her typical workweek was like. Because she does crossover duties, she must open the operations at The USO at 8 am, by preparing her staff for the tasks of the day and by making sure the facility is in order for the active military who will be using the facility at their discretion. The USO is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, providing the military with a comfortable and inviting place to relax, use the Internet for skyping with their families or just surfing the web, have fun by playing a few video games, or taking advantage of the free food and drinks. This is a place that runs on donations by the community and it is Ms. Graham’s job to oversee the promotion of The USO in Guam and in neighbouring countries such as Hawaii, Korea, and Japan. These countries also aid in donating to The USO and military who are stationed in those parts, thanks to the promotional work done by Ms Graham and her staff, are able to find out more information on what The Guam USO offers and how that can take advantage of their services.
One of the many PR projects that Ms. Graham was particularly proud of was a Movie in the park incentive. This project was created to bring the military and the local community of Guam together. “The objective of [this project] was building a bridge, a communication bridge between those two communities,” said Ms. Graham. She also gave some insight as to why building a relationship between the military and the community of Guam is so important. During WWII, the troops invaded Guam and took over the land. Ever since then, there has been tension between the Chamorro people (the Guam natives) and the military troops. The project basically was a movie presented on a big screen where the families of troops and the locals could mingle and just have a good time. The event was totally free and this was due to the many donations The USO receives.
Another highlight of the interview were the tips that Ms. Graham gave to PR students who are trying to break out into the field. Her first tip was to take the time to personalise. She told a story of a trip she took during University, to a local newsroom. There were mounds of letters piled on a reporter’s desk and she asked how he goes about answering them. The reporter answered that he chooses the ones that are handwritten first. Then, out of those he chooses the ones that have his name addressed on them. Out of those, he chooses the ones that have his name spelled correctly, and then if there is a letter that has all of that and also his correct title that is the letter he answers first. Sometimes we can get lost in the shuffle of the workplace but we need to take time to remember that we are dealing with people and personal interaction is key.
The second tip was to not take an initial rejection personally and handle it with grace. Ms. Graham said that if we don’t get through the first time and we still don’t get through the 50th time, still be as nice and as pleasant to the people who you are dealing with because in the end the way you handle yourself can determine the future of the outcome.
The last tip was to never underestimate the power of the detail. When meeting with people do the research ahead of time so that you will not only be knowledgeable and well researched but it shows how much you value their company and the work they are doing. You are taking an interest in not just who they are but who they are planning to be.
I thoroughly enjoyed the interview and really learned a lot from Ms Graham and the advise she presented. You can hear the entire interview by listening to the podcast of my time with Leigh Graham below.
671 648-4876 (C) 671 483-4876
626 Pale San Vitores Rd., Tumon, Guam 96913