After decided that she wanted to pursue her interest in the communications industry, Naja Harvey (COM ’18) attended the College of Communication at Boston University, where she received her master’s degree in public relations. Now a Consumer Intern at Weber Shandwick, one of the nation’s top PR firms, Naja Harvey spoke with us at The COMmunicator to give some insight into her busy yet gratifying job.
Siena Tauber: What was your major at BU? Did you always want to pursue a career in public relations?
Naja Harvey: I got into public relations because of one of my high school teachers. I was in yearbook and I told Mrs. Cole, my teacher, that I wanted to find a way to do this for a living. So, she suggested I look into PR. I did some research and found that she was right! Yearbook and PR do correlate in a lot of ways. Now, this was back when I was a sophomore – so around 10 years ago.
I was excited to go to college and learn more about the communication industry. At the University of Maine, where I studied as an undergraduate, they had a very heavy focus on journalism, with one PR class. This one PR class solidified that I wanted to do this forever. I got my masters in PR at BU because I wanted to solidify my spot in the PR world. BU has such a good communications program and an amazing reputation in the Boston (and beyond) workforce that it was a no brainer for me.
ST: You currently work at Weber Shandwick is as a consumer intern. Can you tell me what that entails? What are your favorite parts of the job?
NH: Yes, I am currently a consumer intern at Weber Shandwick and I am being hired as a full-time employee in May. I have a lot of responsibilities like distributing press releases, building media lists, research, and pitching. I am also involved in a lot of brainstorms, as is everyone else, because we are a creative agency. The best part about Weber is that even though I am an intern, I am not treated like an intern. My team gives me important tasks that are crucial to the clients, like distributing national press releases.
My favorite part of my job, as cliché as it sounds, is the environment. I have worked at a few places where I did not mesh well with the mission statement or the overall feel of the company. And it was tough. At Weber, everyone is supportive and willing to help out wherever they can. For example, I am currently working on a national media list, pitching an event, and producing a few creative assets for three separate clients, all due by Friday. I was asked today to add another national media list to my to-do list and I was very honest saying I didn’t know if I would be able to do it by myself due to my previous assignments and the time-consuming nature of media lists. I was immediately offered help with the newest media list.
ST: What is a typical day like for you at Weber Shandwick? Is there something specific that you look forward to doing every day that is within your job description?
NH: I always start with a daily news scan for one of my clients. It is important that my team knows what is being said about our client as well as our competitors. Since it is a water company, there are a lot of competitors. This usually takes me about an hour… or a cup of coffee! From there, I might have a client meeting or a one-on-one meeting with my manager. If I don’t, I update the coverage tracker with hits we have gotten and mentions of our brands.
Around 11 a.m. I usually have another meeting, either a brainstorm or a client call or a consumer meeting. These run between 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the topic. At noon, I do any work that need follow ups from yesterday, so pitching, updating media bios, or working on a media list.
At 2:30 and 3:30 there is usually another meeting for a different client. We have some crisis work so my days have been pretty meeting heavy lately. For the rest of the day, and any time I have in between meetings, I work on media lists, coverage trackers, and those creative assets I mentioned earlier.
I really look forward to my daily scans. This might be the most mundane thing I do all day, but I like seeing what other brands are working on and how they are tapping into different cultural moments. There is always something going on in the beverage space, from recycling efforts to adding CBD to cider and sparkling water.
ST: How do you feel that COM prepared you to enter the workforce, and more specifically, at Weber Shandwick?
NH: The College of Communication prepared me very well for my position at Weber. A lot of people think that PR doesn’t deal with math and finance and numbers, but that is a total myth. Even at the intern level, I am in budgeting and expense meetings, and am expected to participate. My finance class prepared me for this. Also, even though I am technically in integrated media, I work a lot with client relations, so my media relations class prepared me for client contact and follow-ups. And shout out to professor Quigley, his corporate public affairs class taught me to keep up with the news, IPOs, and gave me a deeper understanding of working in the corporate world. I still have my Wall Street Journal subscription from his class.
In general, BU prepared me pretty well for my job. It taught me how to juggle different clients and how to prioritize assignments.
ST: Was there anything specific that shocked you once you graduated college and started to work within the communications industry? If so, how did you manage to deal with the initial shock and circumstance that arose?
NH: Honestly, since I was in the working world before attending grad school, there wasn’t much of a shock. If anything, I was shocked at how much people care about the work they do, in a good way. My coworkers are so passionate about their clients and are genuinely excited to come up with ideas and strategy around activations for them.
Siena Tauber, Staff Writer
Siena Tauber is a senior at Boston University in the College of Communication, majoring in public relations with a minor in sociology. She loves to travel, read a good book by the beach, and binge watch Netflix while eating a popcorn and chocolate concoction.