Home > PR Connections - COMM 4333 and 2322 > Tara Mullaney- PR Professional

Tara Mullaney- PR Professional


PR Connections #7 – COMM 2322 and 4333

After 20 years of experience in the Public Relations scene, Tara Mullaney walked into a little Lakeland restaurant down the street from her hotel room. Spreading her papers on the table, she was ready for a long night of writing and revising, preparing for an important meeting. Without even glancing at the menu, she begins to write. When I approached the sophisticated agent, I was anxious to find out her career- but instead I only got her drink order, unsweetened iced tea. I was so happy so hear that she was a fellow PR sister, and was more than happy to answer all my questions. After 3 hours of talking and refilling her iced tea, I felt very blessed that she crossed my path, even if only for that one night. Tara Mullany serves as the director, strategic development PR agent for Community Health Services. They are concentrated in Franklin Tennessee, but they have clients all around America and Puerto Rico.

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

I read a lot. I am always reading the newest blog, website, manual for our companies during my flights and waiting periods it actually comes in handy. My title is the strategic developer PR agent because I am the one coordinating the expansion of the media coverage of a new project. (among many other things, of course.) So I my job really counts on me to keep updated on everything happening in the PR world, both corporate and for my person growth. I also listen to many podcasts each week to keep updated and current.

–How does social media play into your position?

Well, the most interesting part about my job is that we work with physicians and professionals; therefore, we are meeting on a local, more centralized outlet. That has saved me from having to learn and keep up with the new social media frenzy. Our corporation would have to create a new position and small department just to handle our social media affairs, it’s a lot. This doesn’t fit into our purpose as much as a mainstream company would need that angle but nonetheless we are very involved in PR

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

How crazy my schedule would be. Between the 24hr days and the many hotel rooms, I was unaware of how much it would demand from my personal life. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and am grateful that I do what I love everyday and work for a company I believe in. It is just difficult when I travel for my job, because having a ‘normal’ social life and calendar is nearly impossible for me.

–How important is writing in your career?

Writing is extremely important, style and grammar will be the make or break of your success with all aspects of the job. For example, I’m sitting in this restaurant writing a News Release, knowing the correct way to format the news release and being comfortable with the grammar will make a 7 hour process a much more tolerable duty; that is just one example of how precise it needs to be. An example of how important writing is to a PR agent would be that I have to write my own presentations and proposals, which means I have to make sure that I it to evoke a response, while having my form, style, grammar and punctuation perfect. No firm will respect any reports that aren’t close to perfect; it’s our job to make sure we are submitting professional work every time.

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

Find what area you are most looking for, and find a way to plug into it. It is important in the Public Relation industry to work in ‘your niche’. Then you will enjoy the process of coordinating, writing, and reading because you are working in the aspect you most care about; you end up representing some thing or some one you believe in. Also, don’t be afraid to travel, it can open the most adventurous doors for you personally and for your career. Before you have a family, or any serious ties to one place, just go. All I am saying is don’t pass up the opportunity if you ever come across it. The most important tips I can provide, has to start now – not once you graduate. That is to get a mentor. Find someone local and who has experience and is willing to talk to you, answer questions and just guide you in the right direction. If you can grasp the advise and then start applying it to your young career, then you will be that much more affective. Get a mentor who has time, and after learning and listening for a while you can even volunteer your hours to shadow them, which will always be beneficial.

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

Applications pour into our offices at all times. We read applications every time they are submitted but do not hire 97% of them. Our PR department is small so we have our own reasons for limited hiring, but those who are chosen will have already established their knowledge of this fast paced career. We also will prefer an impression internship, hands-on experience, and someone who is ready to keep up. That stands out above college courses and graduating GPA’s are almost never considered after you have gained minimal experience. I know this doesn’t apply to my specific company or position, but recently having extensive social media usage is required for many companies. Especially at the age of entry-level, newly graduates are expected to know exactly how social media works and spend time keeping up with that.

–After interviewing this person, are you (the student, not the practitioner) more or less likely to want to have a career in PR? Why?

After talking with Ms. Mullaney, I am more likely to pursue a career in Public Relations. She highlighted many of my favorite parts of the industry like the opportunity to travel and their role for the media. They are the inside scoop, the middle men between the public and the media, I love everything about that.

Drea! xoxo

  1. November 2, 2010 at 8:34 PM

    That sounded like a great interview. I used work in that same industry and it is really neat to meet all the different kinds of people. You never know who will walk through the door. It seems like a common theme amongst public relation professionals that each week is different for them. Some carry multiple phones, live different hours every day and even travel all over the place. I liked how you set up this post with the questions listed and then the answer. It made it a lot easier to read.

  2. November 13, 2010 at 3:03 PM

    I really enjoyed reading your interview! I’m interested in the health care field so I would love to combine Public Relations and healthcare like Tara Mullaney’s career. It’s great that she is able to travel a lot, but it does sound kind of like a bit of a lonely life with the crazy schedule and always going new places. It would be hard to have a social life, as she stated. The tips that she gave for those pursuing a career in PR were really beneficial. I didn’t think about getting a mentor who is versed in the field, but any career that you choose, having someone to “follow in their footsteps” would be very helpful. You can learn from their mistakes and also learn about what has worked for them. Great interview!

  1. November 13, 2010 at 3:06 PM

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