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Public relations specialist stresses editing skills, career happiness

By Sara Slater
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Susan Albertus considers herself to be an “observer of life.” For the longest time, she had no idea what she wanted to be when she grew up. Her dilemma? Too many interests.

Susan photo 1

Susan Albertus is the public relations specialist at the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (Photo courtesy of NE Dept. of Economic Development).

While going to college at the University of Iowa, Albertus took a variety of classes ranging from childhood development to history – all of which she enjoyed. Eventually, she took a year off to work odd jobs and think about her future.

Communicating and working with individuals had always interested her, so she went back to school and pursued a degree in mass communication with emphases in public relations and journalism.

After Albertus graduated, she quickly took a job in the communications division at Clarkson Hospital in Omaha, Neb. There, she gained experience in writing newsletters and press releases. She was also in charge of observing new medical procedures. One procedure that she considered “pretty fascinating” was the first heart transplant in Nebraska in 1996. Her job was to interview the patient throughout the recovery process.

Albertus soon went on to work for both the Mutual of Omaha and United Way of the Midlands. In both positions she acted as an advertising and copy writing specialist.

She now is  the public relations specialist for the Nebraska Department of Economic Development in Lincoln, Neb.

A typical day’s work load  revolves around the Nebraska state administration. “It ebbs and flows with administration and what is going on. Things tend to slow down according to the governor,” Albertus said in an interview.

Albertus’ main tasks include writing press releases, meeting with division directors, disseminating clients’ messages, working on the department newsletter and Facebook page and communicating with media outlets. Her main job is to keep communication flowing between the state government, the department and its clients. “I make sure that people don’t have a bad experience working with us,” Albertus said. “It is being proactive and trying to be proactive in whatever you do, instead of being reactive.”

When it comes to public relations, Albertus is serious about the importance of accurate and transparent messages. Branding is important to a client, and if that information isn’t disseminated correctly, it can be damaging to a company. “Branding goes so much farther than having a logo or a look, it goes to the entire underpinnings of your client or your customer,” Albertus said. Communicating correct messages is the key to a good client relationship.

Editing is also an essential task that Albertus tackles. She helps to edit speeches and articles written by co-workers as well as her own work. According to Albertus, the key to good editing comes from not taking 100 percent ownership of your work. Editing should be considered “team oriented” in order to handle constructive criticism from peers.

Albertus advises young public relations professionals to understand the importance of good writing and editing practice. She stresses the use of correct grammar, proofreading for misspelled words and making sure a written message makes sense to an audience. These rules don’t only apply to professional work, but to personal documents such as resumes and cover letters. In the always-revolving world of public relations it is good to know concrete skills. “I don’t think that it (editing/writing) will ever go out of style,” Albertus said.

She also encourages students to explore the world while they have the chance and to choose a career path that they love. She says that taking time to find something that you love may not come as fast as you would like, but settling for something that you don’t love will never bring happiness.

“Be curious, always be curious, never lose your curiosity to learn,” Albertus said.

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