Taylor Shold: Tell us a little about yourself, who are you and what do you do?
Victoria Bettencourt: I’m often told that my outgoing and bubbly personality make me a great fit to work in the communications industry. I take pride in being personable and was lucky enough to realize these strengths at a young age to help direct me to the right profession – public relations.
I started at SWERVEPR as an Account Coordinator in 2015 and have since had the opportunity to work directly with various children’s toy, consumer electronics, and lifestyle brands to promote upcoming products through proactive media relations and event management. I regularly pitch top tier media outlets in the print and broadcast industry and specialize in developing strong relationships with online influencers across North America. I have recently been promoted to a Public Relations Specialist, which involves more client-facing and strategic planning for new client programs.
Taylor: How has networking helped your career?
Victoria: Networking is essential in public relations as it helps to build and maintain strong relationships with other industry professionals. As a newcomer to the industry, attending networking events has been imperative to not only getting my name, but personal presence out in the PR community. Adding that personal touch goes a long way in our techno-driven world as you become more than an email or IP address. Networking can be an intimidating process, but have faith, as your portfolio grows in the industry — so will your network. Another great way to help build your network is to connect with other media professionals on LinkedIn.
Taylor: You landed your current gig right out of school, how did that come about?
Victoria: I attended the University of Guelph-Humber from 2011-2015. My program was a hybrid, meaning that I learned both theory and practicum. It also provided the added bonus of receiving a University degree and college diploma upon graduation.
On top of class assignments, my schooling required me to complete a four month internship. These months were absolutely crazy as I found myself working 40+ hour weeks at an agency while attending night classes and working two part-time jobs. While I can honestly tell you it was difficult, these four months challenged me and gave me the hands-on experience in PR that I needed. If you’re an undergraduate and thinking about an internship – DO IT.
Six months before graduation, I began applying to jobs that were within my field of study. I wouldn’t sleep at night until I applied to at least two jobs each day. I believe that landing a job right out of school was a combination of my proactive drive to apply for jobs and past internship experience working in a PR agency.
Taylor: What are some skills or attributes that people need to be successful in PR?
Victoria: In order to be successful in PR, you must be detail orientated. Any work that I put forth is not only a reflection of me, but also my client. I would not want to do anything that could jeopardize a client’s reputation with media. No matter how long you’re in the industry, attention to detail is most important.
After a short time working in an agency environment, I was quick to realize that I would have to master the art of organization and multitasking. Having four plus clients at a time can be hectic, but I can say that I’m successfully skilled at crafting to-do lists, personal calendar invites and most importantly note taking. I’m quite forgetful and do everything I possibly can to keep on top of various deadlines. These are just a few skills that have really helped me advance in my career.
Taylor: Who do you look up to in this industry?
Victoria: So far throughout my career, I have been fortunate to work and look up to my former colleague, Jessica Domingo. Jess and I worked closely together on all client accounts for a year and a half. Having just gotten out of school, Jess was a skilled mentor and provided me with the guidance I needed. She too landed her position at SWERVEPR right out of school, so she would make a point to touch base with me often to make sure that I wasn’t overwhelmed.
Within the year and a half that we worked together, Jess received two well-deserved promotions. She not only has amazing skills in PR, but her drive and work ethic are inspiring and motivating to everyone who has the opportunity to work with her. Jess has taught me how to work well under pressure, multitask between multiple clients, and to cease all opportunities that may come my way. She was not only my manager, but a friend. I will always look up to her as a role model.
Taylor: What advice do you have for anyone wanting to have success in PR?
Victoria: My best piece of advice is to not give up. If you’ve had one bad experience in public relations, the problem may not be the career path that you chose but simply where you’re working. I’ve seen a few alumni since graduating who have told me that they gave up on PR after their first internship or job. Your first job is scary and intimidating, but try to give it one more shot before throwing in the towel all together. I know from personal experience – I easily could have given up after my first experience in PR, but I chose to take a leap of faith and I couldn’t be happier with the decision I made.
You can find Victoria on LinkedIn HERE.
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