Vice president talks about making it in public relations

Emily Andrews

The vice president of an Akron public relations company visited Verder Hall last night to discuss her life and how she got to where she is now.

Leigh Greenfelder graduated from Ashland University and now is the vice president of Highland Public Relations. She has done public relations for clients such as the Akron Zoo, the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K and the Road Runner Akron Marathon and Team Relays.

Greenfelder gave students tips to help get a job and talked about networking and the importance of public relations.

She said when she first graduated, she expected to make $35,000. After she sent out many applications and was getting no answer, she said she had to rethink her standards.

“She made some really good points,” said Elizabeth Eureka, a senior communication studies major. “You have to pay your dues. When you come out of school, you are not going to be making $50,000.”

Greenfelder said it is more important for students to get a foot in the door than to hold out for more money or a better position in the beginning of their careers.

“Look for opportunities to benefit the long-run instead of the short-run,” she said.

To help stand out in interviews, she said, students need to be interested in where they are applying and ask questions. Everyone they see wants a job, she said – students should show that they are interested in more than just the position.

“Make sure you review the position you are applying for and tie back the experience you have, with what they want,” she said. “You are interviewing them too.

“You have to show you are confident. Show you are fit for them, and they are fit for you.”

Greenfelder also talked about how it is important to have some knowledge of technology.

“Adding technology to your repertoire is very beneficial because media lines are getting blurred,” she said.

Greenfelder said that today, clients want more services. They don’t just want advertising or public relations if they can get both.

“Public relations is image management,” she said. “If you can do a little bit of everything, you are more marketable.”

Greenfelder, who got her first job at Cleveland public relations firm Dix & Eaton, talked about the power of networking and how she got that job. She had an acquaintance who worked at the firm and she set up a lunch. The lunch led to an internship offer, which she took, and within seven months she was working with clients such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

“You have to keep eyes and ears open,” she said. “Relationship-building is key in media.”

Greenfelder went from working at the Cleveland public relations firm to working for the Akron Racers, a women’s softball team. She said it was a big change from a large firm to a non-profit organization.

“You work lots of hours and get bad pay for sports because everyone wants to be there,” Greenfelder said.

She said some people will try to keep young professionals down because of their age or gender, but students cannot let it get to them.

“People will try to pigeonhole you, Greenfelder said. “Make sure you know what you are and aren’t prepared for.”

Contact College of Communication and Information reporter Emily Andrews at [email protected].