A Chat with Paull Young: PR pro for charity: water

20 Oct

It all began with a recommendation from my Public Relations professor, Barbara Nixon, and then one tweet to @paullyoung, in order for me to schedule an interview with the Director of Digital for charity: water. Paull Young, was able to talk to me over the phone and allowed me to get a sneak peek into the life of a public relations professional working for a nonprofit organization. Native Australian who is now living in New York, Young began as a Public Relations student at Charles Sturt University in Australia and through various internships he was able to land his first job with BAM Media in Australia. He then relocated to the United States for a job with Converseon. Young was able to land his position with charity: water while organizing NYC’s annual Twestival.

What’s a typical week like?

When asked what a typical week looks like for Young, he simply replied “very busy”. His responsibilities with his position include supporting fundraisers, leading a technology group, and working on campaigns, handling things online, and organizing digital. Young said that he needs to “always be on” for his job. When asked about how he separates his job with his personal life, Paull said he tries to keep his weekends work-free, yet sometimes it’s impossible with his job since he is responsible for fundraising events on weekends.

Tell me about a project that you worked on that you are especially proud of?

A recent campaign that Paull Young worked on that he is especially proud of is charity: water’s September campaign. The campaign raised over $800,000 to provide clean water for an African pygmy tribe called the Bayaka. The concept of the September campaign is for people to give up their birthdays and request donations in lieu of gifts. 100% of the donations raised goes directly to build water projects.

What do you do to keep current in the PR industry?

Paull Young said that the two top services he utilizes to keep up with current events in public relations are Google Reader and Twitter. Young says he subscribes to about 100 different newsfeeds on Google Reader that range from politics to news affairs and public relations. As far as Twitter goes, Paull says he follows a couple thousand people.

What do you wish you would have known before starting your career in PR?

When asked this question, Young stated “the biggest thing is an open mind and willingness to always be learning”. Young emphasizes the importance of becoming a “sponge” for information. And the sooner, the better. Paull wishes that in college he would’ve read the newspaper “cover to cover” in college and would’ve understood then the value of networking and connecting with the right people. “It’s a small world”, Young states, and we never know if the connections and relationships we form now will benefit us later.

How important is writing in your career?

“Pretty important”, says Young. Young believes in the age-old “practice, practice, practice” will truly make perfect and the more someone writes, the better they will become . Young says that writing his blog has really improved his writing and helped with creativity.

How is agency life different from corporate PR life?

Young says that his job with the agency Converseon differs from working with the corporation charity: water, because he now “owns” his work more than he did before. Young said that when he worked for an agency it was about “making the client look like a star”, yet now, he can follow through with a job and it is more rewarding.

What three tips would you offer someone just starting out in PR?

The three tips that Young stated were:

1. Become an information sponge

2. Get whatever experience you can

3. And get online- which includes getting online to write, connect with people, twitter, linkedin, and blog

What has surprised you the most about working in PR?

When asked this question, Paull said that his first year of public relations he studied the ethical issues involved with PR. However, during his professional experience he hasn’t seen anyone trying to do unethical things.

When your company is hiring for an entry-level PR position, what makes a candidate stand out?

Paull Young stresses that the biggest thing that the agency he worked for would look for is experience. A company doesn’t necessarily look so much at GPA, instead they look at internships.

After interviewing this person, are you more or less likely to want to have a career in PR? Why?

After interviewing Paull Young, I am more likely to want to have a career in public relations. I especially like the sounds of his job with charity: water. The excitement of the job and being able to make numerous connections really appeals to me. I would also love to represent a nonprofit organization such as charity: water


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