Palmetto PR Diva Dish – Allison Skipper with S.C. State Ports Authority

Brett Turner, APR, who we featured last week, nominated Allison Skipper for the next PR Diva Dish profile and we’re excited to share her thoughts today. As public relations associate for S.C. State Ports Authority, she has a lot to share!

Moving forward, Liza and I have so many ideas on how we can continue to bring you perspectives from a variety of people within the industry and we hope you enjoy. Please let us know your thoughts. Have a great weekend!

o Please provide title and a brief description of what you do:

Public Relations Associate, S.C. State Ports Authority in Charleston, SC
I’m half of our two-person PR department, responsible for all external communications for South Carolina’s public ports system. This includes anything from writing press releases or editorial, filling media requests, giving port tours to visiting business or community groups, planning events and community outreach – the list goes on!

o How did you become interested in the public relations/advertising industry?

I entered my freshman year at Carolina (no, NOT Chapel Hill – the REAL Carolina, as in USC!) as a Biology major with aspirations of becoming a genetic counselor. Upon realizing that I didn’t want to work in the sciences (and that chemistry wasn’t my forte) I moved to “Undeclared – Liberal Arts.” From there, a friend suggested that I try PR, and I’ve been hooked since!

o What changes have you seen in the industry that is the most interesting to you?

Even though I graduated not long ago (2004), so many new and exciting trends have come into play that really change the PR game: the rise of blogs and social media, convergence, etc. I’m excited to see where it all leads.

o Are you involved in any professional associations? If so, what are they and what do you learn by being involved?

Early on in my career, I became involved in the South Carolina chapter of PRSA. Since joining, I’ve served as director of the Charleston region, young professionals chair, and I currently serve as Vice President and the chairman of the Mercury Awards, our signature annual event. I find that I’ve built valuable relationships by being involved in SCPRSA, and I’ve gotten the opportunity to foster my leadership skills within the organization.

o What is the one piece of advice you would give students that are interested in pursuing a career in the public relations/investor relations/marketing industry?

I’m a big advocate of internships. By the time I graduated college, I’d completed three distinct internships in communications, each in different sectors: non-profit, government and corporate. Those experiences not only helped me land my first job out of school (at the Ports Authority), but they also taught me what I liked (and maybe didn’t like) about the profession.

o What is the best thing about your job?

I love the interpersonal communication that my job provides. Whether it’s collaborating on an internal project, or briefing high-level visitors, I enjoy getting to interact with different personalities. It’s also a lot of fun to catch people off guard that might not expect me to be as knowledgeable about port operations – how the facilities are run, or how the port’s cranes are powered. Some people still view ports as “old school.”

o What is the thing you like least about your job?

It’s tough when the media or the public gets it wrong. And I think all PR practitioners would agree with that!

o How do you balance your professional career with your personal life?

Always carve out time for yourself, or else you’ll be a slave to your job! Also, it’s easy to take on too many volunteer commitments when you’re just starting out (everyone loves a hard worker who wants to get involved!), so I’ve learned to say “no” to joining new committees or groups when I’m feeling really stretched.

o Anything else you would like to add?

I feel extremely lucky to be doing work that challenges and excites me, in one of the greatest cities!

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