05/04, MEJO 153

Image courtesy of UNC Economics on Twitter

Northwestern University alumnus, Esther Campi, lectured University of Chapel Hill students on her career in journalism and public relations.

Campi is an award-winning journalist, owner of her own firm, Campi & Company, and has considerable experience in the public relations industry, having been a U.S. senate press secretary and a chamber of commerce executive.

She was also named one of Georgia Trend Magazine’s “40 Under Forty: Georgia’s Best and Brightest,” and is a graduate of Northwestern’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism.

Campi also happens to be a guest lecturer at UNC-CH. During this lecture, she gave students an introduction to PR, and how she made the transition from journalism to PR in her career. 

“The great thing about being a professional communicator, … is you get to marry whatever it is you love,” she said. “Whatever it is that you’re interested in, in life, with your skill for communication. And that’s a wonderful thing.”

In her lecture, Campi emphasized the importance of telling the truth regardless of what field you are in, journalism or PR.

“Those boundaries have been tested recently, in our country and elsewhere,” she said. “The fact is, though, in my 25 years of working, in journalism and public relations, you won’t last very long with journalists, if you are out there not telling the truth.”

Campi stressed that the main difference between working in journalism and PR is that in journalism, it is important to share multiple points of view.

“In public relations, if you represent Coke, do you have to also talk about how great Pepsi is?,” she said. “That’s the difference, … in public relations you represent one point of view.”

She describes her decision to go back to PR from journalism as mostly financial.

“After years of being a reporter, I was so tired of being poor, I had a lot of debt from going to graduate school, I decided to go back into public relations,” she said.

Campi advised the students that it is indeed possible to find a job that combines one’s multiple interests, especially as a journalist or public relations specialist.

“I had no idea when I was sitting where you are 20 years ago, that this kind of thing existed,” she said. “That you could marry your love for politics and journalism and get a job at a PR firm.”

At this point in her career, Campi had so many connections with executives, that she decided the best decision she could make, career-wise, was to start her own firm.

Throughout the lecture, she stressed the value of having experience in both journalism and PR, and how that has helped her make meaningful accomplishments in her career. 

“I’ve been really lucky in my career, to be able to go back and forth between public relations and journalism, knowing something about each of them made me stronger at both,” she said. “It allowed me to do a job and be part of some critical moments in history.”

Towards the end of the lecture, Campi gave the students advice on how to kickstart their careers in journalism or PR.

“Get your writing samples together, get your resume together, so that you can be ready when opportunity knocks so somebody looks at you,” she said. “Have a plan, but don’t be afraid to embrace those detours.”

She also reminded students to take care of themselves.

“You do always have to keep in mind, we are human beings, you do have to sleep and eat,” she said.

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