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PRSA Tampa Bay Member Spotlight: Kate Barth

May 22, 2013

Every two weeks, we put a spotlight on a PRSA Tampa Bay member to learn more about their public relations background, advice on best practices and why they love working in the field.

Passionate PR pro by day, aspiring macaron master by night, Kate Barth tells us how she got to where she is today while gaining invaluable experience along the way, and shares her top five traits for thriving in PR.

Kate Barth

Kate Barth

Name: Kate Barth

Title: Public Relations Manager

Company/Organization: Carlton Fields

PRSA Involvement (past and present): Member, Public Relations Society of America (2006 to Present); Co-Chair, Publicity Committee, Tampa Bay Chapter (2013)

Links to Personal and/or Professional Social Channels: https://twitter.com/katebarth

1)    Tell us a little bit about your career, educational/professional background and how you got to where you are today.

In college, I had every intention of becoming a TV news anchor. I had some of the top professors and training at Arizona State University’s nationally recognized Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications. I served as a news anchor and had internships at local news stations, but after rigorous on-the-set and reporting training, I realized my heart was set on journalism and public relations.

After graduating from ASU, I moved back to my home state (Ohio) and landed my first job at The News-Herald. Although I worked in the advertising department, I wrote feature stories for the paper’s special sections, managed all local and national trade advertising accounts and I was responsible for the layout and design of special sections. I also worked closely with the publisher, editor and reporting staff.

With broadcast and print journalism experience under my belt, I realized it was time to transition into a role that focused on PR and communications. That journey took me to the company, Flight Options, LLC, a private aviation company, offering fractional timeshares on private jets to uber-wealthy clients. I gained an immense amount of experience at this job — working closely with the company’s CEO, pitching news stories, drafting client communications and communications from the CEO to the company’s 6,000 staff, managing crisis communications, and writing two of the firm’s quarterly newsletters. I also had the chance to ride in some of the jets and meet many celebrity clients.

I then realized it was time to learn more about PR/PR strategies. Several of my mentors told me that I should work at a PR agency to get this experience I craved. I did just that and moved to Sarasota, Florida working as an account executive. My bosses both had their APR and CPRC and to this day, they are the co-executive directors for the Florida Public Relations Association. I am grateful for the role they gave me and mentorship they provided me during my time with their agency.

From there I took a leap of faith and began my PR career in the legal field. Prior to Carlton Fields, I worked at a mega law firm managing media relations for a handful of states in the south, mid-west, and west. My experience in media pitching jumped ahead light-years and I owe my growth in this area to my former boss, Aimee Steel.

At Carlton Fields, a law firm with approximately 300 lawyers and government consultants, I am responsible for the overall management of the firm’s public relations, including media relations and media training, article placements, external firm-wide communications and crisis communications.

Within the last four years, I am proud to have been the recipient of seven PR awards, including a national LMA Your Honor Award (2011). Every role I took to get me to where I am today was intentional. I was strategic with my career path and skills needed to succeed.

2)    What do you suggest students do to stand out among applicants in the competitive job market?

Get experience! I can hear students and young professionals say now … but how if I can’t land a job in the first place? Be creative. Get involved in your local PRSSA or PRSA chapter and volunteer to take on projects that you can showcase on your resume and in your portfolio. Land an internship. Commit to doing pro bono PR work. Have a neighbor or doctor that is in need of PR assistance? Offer to help them as a way to give back and to better develop your skills.

When you are looking for a job or interviewing, be sure your writing and communication skills are as good as they can be. The more writing you do, the better your writing will be … so practice, practice, practice. Writing skills can often be a deal breaker for an employer.

It’s also important for students and young professionals to understand that working in this industry can take some time to learn many of the necessary skills needed to do your job effectively. Create a road map for yourself and where you want to be within a certain amount of time. Be sure to do the job at hand that you initially take on and make an effort to learn from those seasoned practitioners in your office or department so that you can quickly develop key skill sets that will enable you to succeed in your future career.

3)    Do you think it takes a certain kind of personality to thrive in PR? What traits are most important?

Absolutely. Here are my top five:

  • Deadline-driven
  • Detail-oriented
  • Leader; ability to act as a counselor to clients (whether external or internal)
  • Open and transparent communication, especially written communications
  • Adrenaline junkie (PR is fast-paced and multifaceted – every day can be like riding a roller coaster or sky diving, or swimming with sharks!)

4)    What’re some of your personal hobbies outside of work/PR?

I love what I do at Carlton Fields and am very passionate about PR, but when I need to relax or when I’m not in the office, I put on my apron and bake. Call me old-fashioned … I bake from scratch and enjoy cooking savory meals from scratch too. I make cake pops, cupcakes and the hot new dessert cookie – French macarons. Making macarons is definitely an art as the cookies are extremely temperamental and delicate. I also love spending time with my husband and flat-coated retriever pup, Liberty — both are the joys of my life.

If you are interested in being featured in a “PRSATB Member Spotlight,” please reach out to Jenna Stock.

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