Q&A: Sara Krueger
- Name: Sara Krueger
- Age: 22
- Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas
- Position: Communications Coordinator
- Company: OCI Solar Power LLC
In 2012, Sara Krueger received her bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from the College of Media & Communication. During her time at Texas Tech, Sara associated herself with a variety of activities and societies which included Media & Communication Dean’s Student Council, Tech PR and Student Government Association.
For a year and a half, Sara worked for the Cure Cancer Foundation in Lubbock as a public relations intern who provided a wide range of creative tactics and strategies for the health care community. She created social media content, planned local fundraising events and handled written material. Aside from interning, Sara was a student assistant for the Texas Tech Parent and Family Relations department for almost two years. In that position, she relied on social media to communicate and engage with students and their families.
Before graduating, Sara received the chance of a lifetime to travel as a public relations assistant to The Intersection Event held at Pixar Animated Studios in Emeryville, California. She assisted corporate development and strategic consultant Courtney Taylor with research for the event.
A month after graduating, Sara accepted the position as communications coordinator for OCI Solar Power LLC in San Antonio, Texas.
Can you describe the position you held at the Cure Cancer Foundation and how social media played a part in communicating health care messages??
I started as an intern and later moved into a full-time role on the small PR team. Social media helped us educate a younger demographic about cancer awareness and specifically cancer research.
What kinds of strategies did you use to engage with people in the healthcare community on social media?
Social media was important to our organization because we were non-profit and heavy relied on the free advertising opportunities. Facebook was used primarily for tips, photos and articles; Twitter was great for providing live updates at our events; and we used Pinterest boards to highlight specific awareness months and their corresponding colors.
How did you use social media to interact and communicate with people for the Texas Tech Parent & Family Relations department? How different is it to engage and interact with a student’s family versus a healthcare community?
The Texas Tech Parent & Family Relations department uses social media to consolidate important information for parents regarding events and opportunities for their students. We also used social media as another means of getting in touch with the department. Involving parents in campus news gives students a chance to hear information they might have missed.
The level of engagement differs between students’ parents and the healthcare community. Parents often had questions or needed clarification which required further engagement on our side. The need for engagement was more immediate. When communicating from a healthcare perspective, we pushed out a lot of information that didn’t require much engagement. We weren’t producing the information, so if anyone had questions they most likely took it upon themselves to engage with the topic.
What skills do you think are important for one to have in order to advance in the field of public relations?
Flexibility. You’ll find that different leaders/companies/organizations value communications differently, and it is up to you to adjust the way you strategize, or you will fall through the cracks. You’ll come across people that don’t care about cooperating with media, engaging on social media or giving out goodies at a local festival to raise awareness. You have to tailor your position for your environment, especially if you are joining an industry outside of communications. I am working in energy, which has changed my expectations of a PR pro completely. I perform normal PR duties, but I am constantly adjusting my skills and mindset to work with our many departments.
As a communications coordinator for OCI Solar Power LLC, what does your daily work schedule consist of?
I single-handedly run the PR team at OCI Solar Power, so I am responsible for everything and anything linked to marketing/PR/advertising and even internal communication. I make sure everything I do can be connected to the goals we have set for this year, and I always have an explanation ready for return on investment.
I scan the news multiple times per day for industry updates and new business opportunities. I usually have a graphic design request, which is a new skill I’ve had to pick up trying to build a comprehensive in-house operation. I do a little bit of social media and traditional media relations, but my time is more valued when it’s spent strategizing about new business opportunities. A big part of my job is planning events when the time comes. My first assignment on the job was planning a news conference/groundbreaking for one of our sites.
How do you feel the College of Media & Communication has prepared you for the real world?
The College of Media & Communication prepared me for the real world by offering endless opportunities to put myself in real-world situations and network with professionals. From in-class exercises and group work to the big campaigns pitch, the college’s curriculum prepared me every day to think through situations I find myself in now that I am working. I shoot texts and emails to people I met through the college when I need advice all of the time. It’s an amazing network to be in. I will always be involved with the college.
What advice would you give to current students who want to further their education and career in communications?
Keep going! Communications is such a rewarding career because we have the ability to make significant changes to ideas, products, people, industries, etc., which is so rewarding when you see your work succeed.
This is a general career path, but if you get relatable experience under your belt before leaving college, you’ll impress the heck out of interviewers and have no problem transitioning into your career.
I wish I had thought to ask the questions below during job interviews. These questions will give you a really good idea of whether or not a company is a good fit.
- How does the company typically use communications, or what communications efforts are valuable to the company?
- What is the company’s goal for your position?
- Where does the company see the communications efforts heading?
I tweet PR and business advice from the ‘real world’ @saraekruegerPR, so feel free to follow and connect!