For my Public Relations class at Southeastern University, I was asked to interview a local PR professional. Fortunately, I have known a PR Pro for almost 13 years. Luci Warren is a Marketing Analyst at State Farm Insurance in Winter Haven, Florida, and was my subject for today’s interview. She graduated from Polk Community College with her Associate of Arts degree and transferred to Warner Southern College where she acquired a Bachelors degree in Organizational Management. Luci has been a family friend for many years due to the fact that her son Cori and I played baseball through little league, high school and a year in college. Luci a loving husband, Allen, and two children, Cori and Diana, who are both in college.
To begin, I asked Mrs. Warren a series of questions regarding her occupation. My first inquiry was, “What is a typical week like?” She responded by saying, “VERY BUSY!” She loves her career at State Farm because she says that it is always changing. However, there are a few constants that she gets to look forward to throughout the week. “I head up a staff meeting every Monday Morning and after that, tons of project work.” Luci says this is the only two things that she knows are going to happen when she goes in at the beginning of the week. She is also part of several committees: Retribution and Rewards Committee, Court Committee, Banquet Committee, Safety Committee, and the Compliance Committee. When I asked her how she kept up with all of these things, she said the only thing that kept her in order was her Outlook Calendar.
The next thing I asked her was if there was a project that she was particularly proud of. “Actually,” she said, “our latest project was pretty amazing!” She told me that about a project that she lead called the CIA Project which stands for Consumer Insurance Fraud Awareness. “Everything at State Farm is an acronym.” she laughed. She said that in Florida, Tamp Orlando and Miami are the worst about Insurance Fraud and that their project was to raise awareness of how bad it’s getting and the consequences one may face if caught. They produced flyers, used billboards and even put the ad on city bus shelters all around the state of Florida. She said that they were even allowed to put that NICB (National Insurance Crime Bureau) was sponsoring their efforts and that it was a huge deal! Apparently, State Farm is very strict in how, when and with whom they allow their logo to be seen.
I then asked Luci how she stayed current in the Public Relations industry. She told me that she simply read and researched. State Farm orders her magazines and and emails her articles about how the industry is changing and what her staff can do to keep up. She is also presented with workshop opportunities, organizations and classes inside and outside of State Farm that she attends regularly in order to keep up with the times. One magazine that she thinks is extremely helpful is the Florida Trend Magazine because it is specifically designed for marketing in the state of Florida. Luci also told me that she received a company Blackberry and a laptop that she bring back and forth from home to work.
When asked what she wishes she would have known before starting her career in PR, she said that she already knew a lot about the field, but there were a couple things that Luci was surprised with. First, State Farm does not have a department specifically for public relations, but the do have a Public Affairs devision which she says is quite close to PR. Second, she wished she would have been more prepared for a company that was so excessively strict. Luci says, “There are guidelines that you must stay within. A
nd to push the envelope in a large corporation like State Farm takes a lot of time and effort that we are not given on many projects”
After talking about how strict the company was, I asked her how important writing is in her line of work. “Writing is SUPER important!” she exclaimed. she went on to tell how everything that is communicated, is communicated through email, executive briefs, summaries, proposals and presentations. She said that a lot of her emails about asking permission from executive and corporate offices and one has to learn to ask the right way.
I then asked her to give me three tips to someone who may be an aspiring Public Relations professional like herself. Her first tip was to, “Hone in on communication skills.” whether it be writing, listening or presenting, you must know how to do it all, and do it all well. Her second tip was to stay current. “If you don’t keep yourself up to date, you get lost and left behind.” Her final tip was to make and maintain good relationships. She said that if you can build healthy relationships with people in T.V., Radio Government Officials and others in the PR industry, you become a vital piece of the corporations massive puzzle.
To conclude, Luci and I had a great time talking about her career and reminiscing about the good-ole days when Cori and I were playing baseball together. She loves her career and even offered to try and find me an internship for the summer within State Farm. After this interview, I am definitely interested in finding my place in the Public Relations Industry. I like change, public speaking, team work and technology, and PR gives me the opportunities to expand in all of these fields.