Behind The Scenes With A Public Relations Consultant


Kelsey Strickland is a Public Relations Consultant with a communications consulting firm in Toronto.

She graduated from Dalhousie University with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology in 2007 and a post-grad certificate in public relations from the University of Toronto in 2009.

Kelsey gave me the scoop on how she got into consulting and PR, why it’s a great fit for her, and how often she gets to wear jeans at work.

What brought you to consulting?

Kelsey: I’m not sure my schooling led me into consulting, it was more my work experience after graduation that made me want to align myself with the best and smartest people in public relations. The idea of working with experts in my industry, many of whom have over 15 years of experience, was an extremely appealing learning opportunity.

What is a Public Relations Consultant?

Kelsey: As public relations consultants, we are in the business of client service. Everything we do involves strategic, logical, smart thinking. Our clients look to us for expert advice so we work hard to be at the top of our industry so we are able to provide the best advice. This involves being informed about current events, day-to-day local, national and worldwide news, politics, policy and best practices.

Can you describe a typical “day in the life” of a consultant?

Kelsey: There is no such thing as a typical day. I’m responsible for making sure that clients have everything they need to run their businesses smoothly and effectively, so this means many small tasks come up on top of large plans that are being executed. Very often I will be working on something and have to drop it and switch to doing something completely different that is more urgent. A ‘day in the life’ would include responding to hundreds of emails, attending meetings and executing strategic communication plans. I do a lot of writing, pitching media, reporting, account management and planning.

Which skills do you utilize and develop in this role?

Kelsey: Strategic communication, organization, time management and relationship building.

What do you love the most about your job?

Kelsey: I love that every single day is different. Since my firm has a variety of clients I get access to many different industries and always get to work on new exciting projects.

What challenges do you face in this position?

Kelsey: The largest challenge I’ve faced so far is time management. When you have so many things going on at once it’s tough to prioritize and figure out what is most important, especially when all of my clients are equally important. I find writing things down and talking regularly with my managers helps a lot.

What advice do you have for students who are considering careers in consulting?

Kelsey: First and foremost, I would highly recommend it, especially as someone starting out in their career. Aligning yourself with people who you would like to have the same career as in the coming years is a great way to learn. You need to be willing to put your work first, which sometimes means working late hours and/or weekends. If you like fast-paced, exciting, challenging work then consulting is for you. Organized, smart, strategic people excel in this industry.

What is your office culture like?

Kelsey: I lucked out when choosing my firm. We have a very rare office culture. Everyone I work with is friendly, open and honest. My managers and bosses are dedicated to helping me learn and succeed. Though it’s a large company (100+ in Toronto and offices worldwide) everyone is very close and it makes it feel a lot smaller. When you’re working long hours it’s important to surround yourself with good people, it makes it much more fun! I wouldn’t necessarily call my workplace business formal or business casual, it’s somewhere in between. People are in suits when client meetings happen but you can find people wearing jeans on casual Friday.

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Photo credit: i love pr by Cloudberry Communications on Flickr