Organizers of the “Take Flight to PR—a Smart Career Choice” program at Boston University from 6 to 9 p.m. tonight are reporting that a full house of more than 200 students will be present.

Tom FiedlerThomas Fiedler, Dean of the BU College of Communication and professor of the practice of journalism, will provide the welcome.

An investigative reporter for more than 30 years at the Miami Herald, he was on the team of reporters that exposed presidential hopeful Gary Hart’s marital infidelity in 1987. He received the top award of the Society of Professional Journalists for his coverage of the 1988 presidential election.

Described in his bio as a “stickler for journalism ethics,” he pushed his reporters to expose sister publication El Nuevo Herald as a recipient of funds from a U.S. government-owned anti-Castro news service in 2006.

He served as a Visiting Murrow Lecturer and Goldsmith Fellow at Harvard Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.

Moaney of Finn Partners on “Specialties”

Gail Moaney
Gain Moaney, managing director and partner of Finn Partners, will make a presentation on “To Specialize or Not to Specialize.”

The O’Dwyer Co., which has tracked the growth of 12 PR specialties since 1992 as part of its annual ranking of PR firms, has provided Moaney and others conducting tonight’s program with six O’Dwyer’s Directory of PR Firms and two sets of 12 O’Dwyer’s magazine, each one focusing on one of the specialties.

Kathy Cripps, president of the Council of PR Firms, the sponsor of the program, said the publications will be brought to the attention of the students.

Edward Boches, Jens Bang on Program

Ed Boches
Edward Boches, Professor of the Practice-Advertising at BU and Chief Innovation Officer, Mullen ad agency, Boston, will give a presentation on “Courage, Collaboration an Creativity: How to Prevail in the Digital Age.”

Jens Bang, chairman of Cone Communications, a unit of Omnicom, will provide the keynote address. Opening remarks will be given by Cripps.

Six executives of Boston area PR firms will take part in a panel discussion starting at 7:20 moderated by Steve Quigley, BU associate professor.

They are:

-Laura Tomasetti, CEO and founder of 360 Public Relations
-Phil Nardone, CEO, PAN Communications
-Ken Peters, SVP, Text 100
-Joe Baerlein, president, Rasky-Baerlein
-George Snell III, VP, Weber Shandwick
-Liz O’Donnell, VP, Emanate

Free-lancing Not on Program

Not on the program but a subject that will probably be brought up is how students can start their own businesses if they can’t find full-time jobs.

Groups and schools devoted to helping freelancers, startups and entrepreneurs in journalism and PR have multiplied in size and number throughout the nation in recent months.

The City University of New York is promoting a Certificate in Entrepreneurial Journalism. Cost is $4,910 for a one-semester program. It also offers an M.A. in the same subject.

Events for freelancers have proliferated in New York and include a session called “Marketing Yourself as a Freelancer” by the New York Financial Writers’ Assn. Tuesday, Oct. 8 at 6 p.m. at the Playwright’s Celtic Pub, Eighth ave. and 45-46 sts.

Financial Writers Opt for Talk—not Drinks

NYFWA says the program is “instead of a traditional drinks night.” Speakers include Allison Hemming of the Hired Guns talent agency, www.thehiredguns.com author of Work It! How to Get Ahead and Land a Job in Any Economy, and a speaker from www.mediabistro.com, which has a database of many hundreds of freelance writers.

The members’ directory of NYFWA lists 81 of the 290 members (28%) as “freelancers.” The category did not exist a couple of decades ago.

Startup Day on the Hill, an annual event sponsored by www.engine.is, is seeking the support of Congressmen for self-employed writers and PR people.

The website says it is in touch with nearly 500 new firms that have obtained financing from venture capitalists, family members and friends.

Stress May Be Topic

Students may ask about the stress related to PR positions since www.careercast.com has repeatedly rated PR as one of the most stressful jobs.

Its 2011 rating of such jobs put “PR officer” in the No. 2 spot.

PR officers, it said, are charged with creating a positive image for clients but have to deal with “potentially hostile” reporters. They often serve as spokesperson for companies and clients, facing large audiences, it said.

Its 2013 rating of the most stressful jobs put PR practitioners as No. 5 with a stress rating of 48.52, which is even more stressful than being a senior corporate executive (47.46 rating). No. 1 in 2013 is “enlisted military personnel” with a rating of 84.72.

Careercast notes that “heart attack is commonly associated with stress.”

Students tonight might ask why Arthur Yann’s job as VP-PR of PR Society of America was described as “one of toughest jobs in PR” by William Murray, president and COO of PRSA.

Yann, 48, died suddenly of a heart attack June 13 while on the train to his home in Fairfield, Conn.

Donald Wright is the Harold Burson Professor and Chair in Public Relations at BU.
Burson is the co-founder of Burson-Marsteller.