Public Relation Professional Interview- Gary Kimler

25 Oct

Today, I had the honor of interviewing Gary Kimler a public relations professional at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla. He graduated from The University of Southern Florida with a BA in Mass Communication/Journalism. He just had his one year anniversary working at Southeastern University and is proud to present his 24-page-tabloid about Southeastern University‘s 75th year anniversary that will appear in the Lakeland Ledger on November 4, 2010.

A typical week for Kimler is not typical at all. The hours posted for him are from 8a.m. until 5p.m. everyday. However, that varies with the different tasks that arise for him throughout the week, especially when needing to carry two different phones in order for life to run smoothly. Kimler starts out his day looking for local news by reading The Ledger, obtaining global news from The Drudge Report and other news sources. He continues on with his day by working on various projects. As I mentioned before, one project he just completed is the enormous project of the 24-page-tabloid about Southeastern University 75th Anniversary. It is a project that he is very proud of. Kimler wears many hats in his field. On this project, he created the idea, did the research, design and all the different aspects of writing.

Being a public relations professional, Kimler has to remain current in the public relations industry. He has gained significance connections from his previous jobs from working at The Tampa Tribune to The Lakeland Ledger. Then, 24 years after leaving the newspaper world, he entered the private companies’ world and worked in their communication department. Throughout this journey, Kimler taught himself graphic arts and became a graphic designer. He learned programs such as Photoshop, Indesign, Illustrator and Dreamweaver. All of these things, he wished he could have known before he started in the field, but had not come into being yet. The field is a continual learning curve with new technologies and programs.

Plus, Kimler expresses that writing is very important in a public relations career. Especially, coming from a journalist and editor background. Kimler emphasizes how important writing skills are today for the industry. He says, “Everything is press releases.” Since he has been on both sides, from the journalist to the public relations professional, he understands the viewpoints or attitudes that are being expressed. The main part of a public relations professional’s job is to be that medium between the president of the organization and the media. He graciously gave me the 10 Commandments of Media Relations. They are:

  1. Thou shalt be open and cooperative. Never lie.
  2. Thou shalt personalize Southeastern University as much as possible.
  3. Thou shalt develop media contacts.
  4. Thou shalt take good stories to the media.
  5. Thou shalt respond quickly.
  6. Thou shalt never say “no comment.”
  7. Thou shalt know: it’s OK to say, “I don’t know” (but I’ll find out).
  8. Thou shalt know: if thou screweth up, confess and repent.
  9. Thou shalt use “Big Dump” when thou havest bad news to dump. Dump it all at once; don’t let it dribble out. That will prolong the stories and multiply the damage.
  10. Thou shalt prepare, prepare, prepare.

I learned very informative tips to keep in mind. Starting out in public relations, the positive stories journalists will call in about go to the top. But, that is why he is paid the “big bucks” to deal with the negative stories journalists will want to know about. These moments are when the public relations professional is that medium to protect the company, but still tell the truth. I like how Kimler puts it, “We are the professional firemen who are always putting out fire

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