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If you want to get opportunities in the public relations and communications world, Esther

Campi has one big suggestion: Start building your story now.

Campi spoke to a UNC journalism class Wednesday about all of the basics of the PR

profession and how to succeed in a future career.

She began her career interning for Senator Fred Thompson after a college professor had

noticed her dual interests of journalism and politics and connected her with the opportunity. The

internship exposed her to a fast-moving political environment where she learned a lot about the

relationship between media and politics.

“My advice to everyone is to start getting ready now,” Campi said. “Save writing

samples, write your bio and get your resume together.”

Next, she pursued a master’s degree at Northwestern University in the Medill School of

Journalism. She began working in Mississippi as a political reporter during the controversial vote

on the state flag, and then moved up to Ithaca, New York, where she covered higher education

for the Ithaca Journal.

Campi soon decided that she wanted to make more money and pursue PR opportunities.

She didn’t realize that some PR firms wanted to hire professionals with political experience. The

opportunity to combine her passions was an exciting opportunity.

“The beauty of our profession is that you can marry the things you love with your

communication skills, whether it’s cats, baseball or politics,” Campi said. “You can have a great

career if you take what you’re learning and mesh that with your interests.”

After working as a PR professional for several years, Campi started her own firm, Campi

& Company, in 2011, which works with big and small companies to manage their media needs.
Campi explained that PR goes far beyond communicating, brand loyalty and reaching out

to the public. The most important part is not just to build relationships, but to help an

organization achieve its business goals.

She explained that the difference between thinking like an amateur and a professional is

keeping in mind that reputations live in the minds of the consumer, not the brand, which must be

considered when creating messages.

“The point is: Context matters,” Campi said. “The difference between marginal strategic

communicators and the best communicators are that they understand that the best messages put

out in the marketplace understand that context.”

Campi stressed the importance of avoiding cognitive dissonance: don’t create a gap

between reality and perception. The goal is to close the gap between how the public perceives a

company and how the company wants to be perceived.

True PR professionals consider all possible audiences in order to provide the best

message that will serve them. Campi recommends acting by the model, “WIIFM: What’s In It

For Me?” which means addressing what the audiences care about.

Campi broke down her 5-step strategic approach to PR, which includes defining business

goals, defining audiences, deciding a call to action for audiences, creating a message that

communicates the call to action and figuring out how to deliver this message.

She explained that students can follow a few key points to find success in PR.

“Be ready when opportunity knocks,” Campi said. “Have a plan, but embrace detours.

And combine your love of communications with whatever else you love.”