Outreach Blog: Careers in PR: Taking The Long Way


The Benefits of “Taking the Long Way” to a Career in PR

Mike Phillips, Account Director at AMPM PR in Portland, says that he “took the long way” to his career in Public Relations.  However, it was the experiences along the way that helped shape his eventual success.  After graduating in 2004 from Washington State University with a BA in Communications, Phillips initially joined a band. He employed techniques such as guerrilla marketing to promote the band and to communicate with his audience. After leaving the music industry, he used these same skills to begin a career in Public Relations.

The next leg of the journey

Prior to his work at AMPM PR, Phillips also worked in publishing PR. He brought a publishing job into his PR firm by helping to promote a book. Upon discovering that he enjoyed publishing PR, Phillips started a small business on literary publicity, which enabled him to reach out to his favorite author.

“It was during this time that I was able to reach out to my favorite author, Bill Carter. You probably haven’t heard of him, but he’s brilliant. One of his books is called ‘Fools Rush In.'” 

After taking his current job at AMPM PR, Phillips experiences the highs and lows of agency life.  His days consists of answering emails as well as phone from clients; maintaining clients’ social media platforms;  researching industries for relevant information, and occasionally collaborating on new client development projects.

“The greatest joy is probably getting clients published, getting positive results, and changing how people receive communication messaging.”

How has the industry changed?

Phillips notes that today, new technologies such as Google Analytics have enabled small business to personally carry out tasks that has previously been the role of PR professionals. It has caused businesses to become simultaneously more independent as well as more reliant on Public Relations as an important business technique.  Social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter have allowed businesses to communicate more easily with their target audience.  As a result, the scope of the PR professional has veered away from traditional PR and become more strategic. It is less about how to spread a message, but rather which platform and which tactic are the most practical.

“That’s what’s amazing about this period in history, the line between PR and journalism is very gray.”