On Feb. 7, I had the pleasure of listening to a lecture by Okina Tran, a graduate from the University of Nebraska Omaha who now resides in New York City, working as an Account Executive at Small Girls Public Relations. During her presentation, Tran graciously shared insight into her career with students, and presented what she believes to be the key elements of media relations.
Okina Tran graduated in the spring semester of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak. During her undergraduate career, Tran was heavily involved with different extracurriculars, including collegiate organizations, internships and fellowships. Tran emphasized the importance of these experiences and how they helped launch her career.
SmallGirlPR, where Tran currently works, is an integrated public relations agency. This means that the agency focuses on inserting their clients into culture and big news, even when there isn’t. The company does this mainly through earned media. Earned media is any media that is produced naturally, rather than monetarily, via customers, social media and journalists. Examples of this — which SmallGirlsPR has successfully demonstrated — is to have a topic trending on Twitter, top launches in the app store, or answers to the NY Times crossword puzzle.
As an Account Executive at SmallGirlsPR, Tran has the opportunity to work for a wide range of companies and the ability to do something every day. She currently works on the Media Relations team for Make.AI, an artificial intelligence company, Care / OF, a personalized vitamin shop, and Papier, a stationary producer.
One of the most essential parts of Tran’s job is the creation and completion of Media Lists. A Media List, or a Press List, is a document that lists important media contacts that range from journalists, influencers, bloggers and more. The purpose of these lists is to provide an archive of individuals that an agency can pitch a story, feature or press release to. The list includes the contacts publication history, beats, information, title, and location.
The other aspect of her career that Tran emphasized was pitch writing. A pitch is a short personalized message to a journalist, blogger, editor, or reporter who proposes a story or feature idea and explains why it should be published. Working for a public relations agency, Tran spends a great deal of her time writing and sending media pitches to different contacts derived from Media Lists.