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PR people need selling skills

THE BEST advice for those beginning a career in public relations is to get some sales training, says Devahasdin Public Relations director Sandra Devahasdin.

“If people are going to use PR as part of a marketing mix, it’s got to ultimately reflect in the bottom line,” Mrs Devahasdin said.

“Having management and sales training to further my understanding of how a business operates before getting into the PR side has certainly given me a better insight into formulating plans.

“You have to establish your objectives and clearly define what the plan should achieve.”

Mrs Devahasdin gained a science degree in her native Scotland and began her working life as a qualified dietician for Guys Hospital in London.

After moving to Australia, Mrs Devahasdin worked for Jenny Craig Weight Loss Centres.

“At first I was basically teaching nutrition, writing manuals and training counsellors,” she said.

“I eventually became an area manager. So, at the age of twenty-two, I was responsible for the bottom line of eleven centres in WA and managing around 450 staff.

“That experience was utterly invaluable from a public relations perspective,” she said.

Mrs Devahasdin then began a new career as PR manager for the Sheraton Perth Hotel.

With no guidance, her PR skills were self-taught while working for the hotel over five and a half years.

Mrs Devahasdin set up her own PR company six years ago and now has four full-time staff and three part-time staff.

“All of our work is gained through word-of-mouth,” Mrs Devahasdin said.

The company has affiliated offices in every State to handle national accounts.

Mrs Devahasdin said last year, the company was surveyed in a Curtin University study to determine the state of PR practices in WA.

“They interviewed about sixty-five journalists across WA and asked what they considered good and poor PR practices,” she said.

“A lot of them said they binned most of the press releases they received because they were so poorly written and presented.

“The panel was asked which companies practised good media relations and we were the only private company in WA viewed as doing so.”

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