RSJ Alumna Calls Public Relations the Perfect Challenge
By Nicole Carlsen
Heidi Baldwin did not plan on being in travel and hospitality public relations but that is exactly where she is now. She majored in advertising but right after college landed a job in the marketing department at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino (GSR) just as the casino was changing hands from the Reno Hilton.
“I loved it, I was on board with all the rebranding from signage, to informing the employees, to the new ad campaign,” said Baldwin. “It was the best time for somebody to ever come on from a marketing stand point."
At UNR, Baldwin had been involved in Ad Club, Public Relations Student Society of America and Pi Beta Phi, and was a founding member of Reno Tahoe Young Professionals . During college she interned as a media buyer at Emedia and had a public relations internship with EDAWN but says she got a lot out of the Reynolds School.
Baldwin says she received real-life experience participating in the National Student Advertising Competition (or IMC as you will hear it referred to in the halls of the J-school). That year the team had Postal Vault Systems as a client. The team won at regionals and headed to San Francisco to nationals. The team did not win at nationals but Baldwin says it was a great experience.
“It was the hardest, most challenging, yet most beneficial and exciting thing that I’ve done,” said Baldwin. “It was so intense. I mean, it took up pretty much my entire senior year of college, and my spring break and my life. The classes were always amazing but I think IMC provided real life work experience and things that were practical that you could take to a real job.”
After using those skills at GSR, Baldwin landed a job in Las Vegas at Kirvin Doak Communications, where she worked for two and a half years as part of the PR team that opened the CityCenter. CityCenter is the largest privately funded construction project in the history of the United States with a total cost of $9.2 billion. The property is 16,787,000 square feet spread between 7 buildings containing residences, hotels, clubs, spas, shopping and more.
“It was the most amazing project, I got on board when it was literally steel and concrete and watched it become this amazing thing,” said Baldwin. “It was great, I got to work with hotels, real estate, restaurants, shopping and entertainment.”
Once CityCenter opened Baldwin decided to follow a long-set-aside “itch” to move to Los Angeles. She sent a resume to one PR agency and got a call two days later.
“It was so fast, I didn’t even have time to think about it all,” said Baldwin. “It was great and I’ve been with that same company for almost 3 years now.”
Murphy O’Brien is made up of hospitality, luxury hotel, lifestyle and real estate departments. Baldwin specializes in travel and hospitality. She started as an account executive and, after her latest promotion in January, is an account supervisor.
“I think that (public relations) is the perfect challenge. I don’t think people realize how much creativity goes into PR,” said Baldwin. “It has the right amount of writing and the right amount of creativity. It challenges you constantly to come up with a new angle or to pick up the phone not be afraid to talk to whoever is on the other end of the line. You have to have thick skin and know when to give up and know when to keep going.”
For current RSJ students, Baldwin has some advice before heading into the work world.
“I think your writing should always be top priority when you are in PR. Whether it is email communication, creating PR plans or writing pitches,” said Baldwin. “Also find out what you are passionate about: some people like crisis PR, some people like travel & hospitality, some entertainment, some nonprofit, so I think it’s important to try to figure out where you’re passionate.”