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What Groundhog Day Taught Me About Public Relations

Editor’s note: Welcome to Kallie Bullock, Sterling’s newest account coordinator. Kallie comes to us from Santa Clara University, where she recently earned her Bachelor of Commerce in Business, Marketing and English. Here, in her own words, Kallie talks about what led her to practicing tech PR at Sterling Communications.

A recent graduate from Santa Clara University, I studied marketing and English with the hopes of soon launching a career in which I could use my skills and knowledge in creative and communicative ways. I’ve interned in product and online marketing, dabbled in web design and social media, and explored integrated marketing communications campaigns. Now at Sterling Communications, I’ve found the outlet for the beginnings of my professional endeavor into public relations.

As a fresh graduate with a lack of work experience in the PR field, I found my first week at Sterling was a little overwhelming. In the background I heard mentions of pitches, briefings, and more PR lingo that went way over my head based on my focus in marketing and high-level understanding of what public relations professionals really do.

A few days into my dive into PR, in an effort to break up the day and get to know me, one of my colleagues asked me a simple but thought provoking question: “Kallie, what is one movie that you hate that everyone else seems to love?” Without hesitation, I said it was Groundhog Day. My fellow Sterlingers were rather astounded; what did I have against Bill Murray? Nothing, I replied, but for some reason, the movie has always stuck out to me as one that I have never found enjoyable despite Roger Ebert‘s critical acclaim of the film.

Be it the not-so-subtle irony found in Murray’s character’s name (Phil) or the Scrooge-like journey of redemption, I despised the repetition of the story. Just as Phil dreads living the same day over-and-over again, why would I enjoy watching it play out?

Coming from a marketing background, I had done the corporate marketing intern thing once or twice. Were my internships great learning experiences? Yes. Did they show me the ropes of working in a professional environment? Of course. Did they teach me that I didn’t want to work in an environment where I’d be doing the same work, day-after-day? Definitely. Much like how Murray’s character in the film lives out the same day over and over, I got sick of looking at Excel spreadsheets, plugging in numbers with no real passion for my work.

In an effort to appease the masses and defend my dislike of the film, I set out to watch Groundhog Day again. What I found in relation to my newfound knowledge of public relations and marketing surprised me.

At the beginning of the film, Phil is completely cut off from those around him. His lewd jokes and disdain for the others around him leave him self-centered and disconnected from his environment. After discovering that he continues to live the same day over and over, he works to advance his own selfish impulses rather than to focus on the quality of his relationships. His later efforts to rebuild these relationships are futile — his reputation precedes him and it takes him much more effort to build one of value. Ultimately, it is Phil’s new outlook on life and real investment in his relationships that allow him to break the Groundhog Day cycle. Phil has finally learned to care.

Though marketing and public relations may seem to be of different realms in many ways, really they are both about relationships. As Monika pointed out, “Business is all about who you know, how you know them and how to connect with them.” Public relations — and marketing as well — are both about building and forging relationships, whether they be with the media, your clients, or the public. If I’ve learned anything over the past few weeks, this would be it. No matter through email, phone conversations, trade shows, tweeting, or blogging, interacting with others and reinforcing relationships makes all the difference.

PR and watching Groundhog Day again have taught me this: Take the time to invest in relationships and don’t be afraid to give things another try.

Turns out, it’s not such a bad movie after all.

Kallie Bullock can be reached at kbullock@sterlingpr.com. Follow her on Twitter @kallieswaggg.

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