Getting Ahead in the Field

By: Jasmine Kitterman

For our final meeting of September, UI’s PRSSA chapter met with Jim Thebeau, who gave us some tips on how to get the ball rolling before beginning a career in public relations. Thebeau serves as partner and chairman of the board for Amperage marketing and understands what is important is to make it all about the customer. Whether learning more about the tools of the trade or pushing the company to excel, Thebeau’s skills have been put to amazing use during his career.

Amperage is a firm of roughly 50 “strategic marketing problem-solvers” that specialize in a number of fields, including healthcare, education, finance and insurance, community and government, and nonprofit. Thebeau walked us through the step-by-step process to coordinating a successful strategic campaign for a nonprofit organization. He explained that in order to raise money for Cedar Rapids to construct a new library many different groups must be coordinated. A campaign for a nonprofit organization such as the Cedar Rapids public library, Thebeau said, can be broken down into three stages:

  • The planning stage: This period consists of forming committees and drawing up a Statement of Need, which is a document outlining the facts of organization and pointing to the need for a strategic communication campaign or a fundraiser. Planning involves coordinating volunteers and outlining potential public relations strategies. During this time, the company will launch a feasibility study, where interviews are conducted to get a feel for how much money can be raised for the nonprofit foundation.
  • The research stage: During this time, the company explores their client, investigating the organization further. Thebeau stressed the point that Amperage is a successful firm due to their investment in research and data. He says that “knowing the data is half the battle.” After that, it is simpler to create an effective campaign for the client.
  • The analysis stage: This phase is the final in a successful PR and marketing campaign. The campaign is implemented and the company analyzes its effects. The Cedar Rapids library fundraiser raised over $7.2 million.

In order to create successful campaigns like Amperage, Thebeau stressed knowing how to use new technologies to satisfy the customer. “You’ve got to make it all about your customer, whether it’s internal or external,” Thebeau says. New technologies aid the company in raising the bar and rising to the standards that their clients have come to expect.

Thebeau suggested becoming familiar with business analytics, Google analytics, and how to connect with an audience through the internet. Data-driven marketing is very quickly becoming synonymous with good public relations campaigns, according to Thebeau. He suggests taking a college course or learning from someone how to work with and understand the numbers behind organizations.

Learning how to measure an organization or company with data is the core of upgrading that company. Jim Thebeau’s visit to our group gave us plenty of insight on how to get ahead in the field of public relations, which is constantly changing and utilizing new technologies to implement successful campaigns.