Profile of Charles E. Catherine, Public Relations Representative
Intro: Fluently speaking three different languages makes this APH CareerConnect Mentor the perfect candidate for public relations at ZenoRadio, where he gets to travel the world without leaving the office. See how this energetic 24 year old employee’s work helps immigrants from around the world listen to radio from “back home” no matter where in the U.S.A. they may be.
Story: My job title is that of Public Relations Representative and I’m in charge of Public Relations for ZenoRadio. ZenoRadio is a media content and technology company, based in New York City. Our parent company, ZenoFon is based in Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai and the Philippines. The company’s popularity has grown rapidly since its launch in 2011 providing users with a simple way to listen to radio content from “back home” on any telephone from wherever they are in the U.S.
My company offers this new service, free and original, primarily for the immigrants’ communities in this country. This service allows them to listen to their native radio stations from anywhere they are in the United States, and we are growing at a very fast pace. We create phone numbers that people can call for free, with a broad choice of stations. Every country has its number, and many extensions. On each extension is a new radio station. Most of our listeners are cabdrivers or street workers that want to be in touch with their origins. Providing this service gives them that connection.
Basically, what my job entails is to try to get as many journalists talking about my company as I can. I make sure that our partners are happy with our work, and I also write our subscriber newsletter every week.
To get to work I use a white cane, and I feel very comfortable walking around in New York City. Using the subway is very simple, and way easier than in France. In Paris, for instance, there are no vocal announcements of the next station, so I have to know by heart where I want to go. Here, I can just listen to the announcements and I find that a bonus.
For me a typical day on the job begins with email checking, and if need be, I call our partners in Europe. I do this early in the morning because of the time difference between Europe and the U.S.
Since I speak fluent French, English and Spanish, I frequently switch languages on the phone. Meetings take up a portion of my day or sometimes I do interviews, and I have to be as professional as possible as well as entertaining. On the day of this writing we had a call with a French newspaper and the other day and Indian one.
Some of the broadcasters that work with us want to come to our office to discuss certain details, and sometimes, journalists come to write about our company. Since I am in charge of Public Relations, I am the one answering their questions, often with my boss.
There are times I negotiate for our advertisements and, in my opinion this is the most challenging part of my job. Most of the time, there is a big difference between the price that is written on the rate card, and the price a client actually pays for the ads. The negotiation process can be very long and slow down our whole campaign. To do a fair negotiation we have to know who we are dealing with, and what we can give them without giving the whole house away. The idea is to build a good relationship where we will have returning clients while also making money for the company. So both parties have to be satisfied and feel that they are getting a good deal.
I work in a start up, so most of my colleagues are young and quite fun to be with. Since we work mainly with foreign partners, our employees come from all over the world. I, for example, am from France. Our designer is from Puerto Rico, one of our technicians is from India, another one is from Algeria and there is an employee that works with our business development department who is from Morocco. Business partners include Radio Notre-Dame, which is a famous French radio station, Radio Allo Dakar in Senegal, and we also work with stations from Algeria, Mali, Bangladesh, Canada, India, Nigeria etc. And so it goes. We are quite a diverse group. Like I suggested, it is a great way to travel around the world without ever leaving the office.
While looking for work I found this job on an unconventional site on the internet. What happened was that I saw an ad on Craigslist for an internship in NYC. I absolutely wanted to be in NYC. My wife is American, and I wanted to be with her. Obtaining a Visa required a lot of paperwork so I hired a lawyer and now everything is in order. Anyway, I applied, and got an interview. Then, everything went really fast. My internship became a job, and that’s it! But to get this interview, I probably applied to more than 150 job postings. It is important for young people, well, anyone really, to know that finding a job IS a job so don’t give up.
Aside from an internship in a French newspaper a few years ago this is my first job. Doing the internship really helped me get some good experience. Internships are very important for helping to build a network and a career so don’t hesitate to use them as stepping stones.
Job accommodations have not really been a problem since I mainly work with my computer. I have my own laptop, with a French keyboard, and JAWS. Other than a talking cell phone and a Victor reader, that’s all the accommodations I use on or off the job. This job really taught me to be honest with everyone, because I still can see a little, and before, I was trying to hide my impairment as much as possible. Now I know that talking about it is the best way to be accepted, and more at ease with my surroundings. Also, my boss always makes sure that there are no obstacles in the office such as open file cabinet drawers or other major impediments that would hinder me from safely navigating around the office.
What I like about my job is that we can bring in a lot of new ideas and are encouraged to do so. Basically, we are helping build the company ourselves by brainstorming and presenting ideas and then implementing those that are accepted. However, sometimes it can be very frustrating, because our budgets are so limited, and our ideas are not necessarily always those of the majority.
Because I talk to so many different people I often have to repeat myself, because the message we want to get out to clients, partners and users of our product is always the same. However, if I’m being interviewed and a journalist is good, there is always something special that comes up, a funny story or an interesting, original idea.
If you are considering a job similar to mine, my first piece of advice would be to find and complete some internships in order to have a firsthand idea of what the job really is. I have a major in Political Science, but I always was interested in journalism and Public Relations. So now I get to merge my education with my personal interests. Of course, the job is not as glamorous as I had imagined, few jobs are. There is a certain routine that has to be carried out every day, but it also provides a good opportunity to meet and learn from many interesting people and that, I like a lot.
The Contact: Charles