CAREERS: Pandora's Problem Page

Q I have been working in the healthcare practice of a mid-size

agency and I have grown rather bored with it. I want to move to into

entertainment PR, but I don't really have any relevant experience in

that area. How can I get a foot in the door?

Mr. L, New York

A "That can be a tough transition to make," said Holly Fussell, senior

account supervisor at Rubenstein Associates. While many of the skills

are the same in any brand of public relations, such as great writing and

a convincing pitch, the entertainment industry can be insular.

Therefore, making contacts is supremely important when you're just

getting started. "This is the time to call your parents' friends and ask

them if they can make introductions to people they know in the

industry," Holly advised. "There are so many talented people trying to

get jobs in the entertainment business that you need something to catch

the eye of the HR folk."

Holly also advised that you understand the industry you are looking to

break into. It's relatively low-paying, and long hours are part of the

package in the "so-called glamour business."

Q I was recently hired as a vice president in a boutique PR agency. A

major part of my job is trying to drum up new business for the firm, so

I am always trying to set up meetings with companies. I am having a lot

of problems getting through to the decision-makers in the PR

departments. I keep getting palmed off on managers, who tell me that

they will pass on the relevant information to the top dog. Do you have

any advice that would help me secure a meeting with the organ grinder,

and not the monkey?

Ms. P, Boston

A I called upon the estimable Bob Madison, director of strategic

communications at Porter Novelli, to help answer this question. "In an

ideal world," said he, "new business teams are integrated so they have

both junior and senior members. So when you are getting palmed off on

people who are not decision-makers, you can get your top person


Speak to your senior management about their being more involved in the

process, and prepare them for the situations when they may be called

upon to access the higher echelon.

But remember that you are always the first line in prospecting, and you

still have a big opportunity to maneuver your way into the corner

office. The most important tool at your disposal is research. Take a

hard look at the company you're pursuing and develop specific ideas

about how your agency can add value to its mission. Prove that a meeting

with you is no waste of time.

As Bob put it, "If you know what you are talking about, and do your

homework, it doesn't matter what level you are."

Q What is the best way to quit my job? The one I presently have was my

first one out of college, and I have already accepted a position with

another company. I need to tell my boss about this next week, but I am

very nervous about it. I'm afraid he will get upset, or offer me

incentives to stay. But I really want this other job, as I have agreed

to take it. How should I handle this situation?

Mr. D, Richmond, VA

A Quitting a job is like choking down cheap wine at an industry

function - it's a necessary unpleasantness that makes you feel a lot

better 15 minutes later.

What might make this difficult task a bit easier on both of you is to

write down three reasons why you have decided to accept the new job and

recite them to your employer calmly and unequivocally. Once he sees that

you have thought this through, and are not simply angling for a raise or

promotion, he will accept it as a fait accompli.

- Do you have a problem that no one else has been able to solve? Try

Pandora. E-mail her at pandora@

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