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Shannon Hill: Publicist for Bisson Barcelona, LLC, in Barrington, NH

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When she was in college, publicist Shannon Hill studied English and mass communications and enjoyed the handful of public-relations classes she took then. But she really got bitten by the PR bug while working as a program director for a nonprofit; there, she wore all sorts of hats, including that of a PR specialist.

These days, Hill manages the images of authors, entrepreneurs, and companies in her position at Bisson Barcelona, a New Hampshire public-relations firm. Hill said that she met Traci Bisson, owner of Bisson Barcelona, when Bisson was a client of the nonprofit organization for which Hill used to work. When she heard that Bisson was looking to hire another publicist, she threw her hat in the ring.

Hill said that what she enjoys most about her job is holding a newspaper, watching television, or listening to a radio program and hearing people talk about her clients. On the flipside, tracking down clients quickly for reporters who are on deadlines is a constant challenge.

To date, the emotional highlight of her career has been a dental-drive promotion she created for a client.

"He had been in business for over 30 years, at the same location, and never once appeared in the media," said Hill. "He was going on a medical mission to Peru, so I customized a promotion that allowed us to utilize the media to draw the public into his location to donate toothbrushes, floss, toothpaste, and mouthwash over a five-day period."

"By the time it was over, he had to buy three new 30-gallon garbage cans (he couldn't fit the items in anything else) to transport to the airport and take to Peru. Not only did the community rally and help a good cause, but my client received a lot of media attention, including a follow-up story, for his philanthropy."

According to Hill, the rise of technology (keeping up with blogs, YouTube, podcasts, etc.) is one of the most important issues facing the PR profession today and is also the biggest change she has seen over the course of her career.

How I Got a Job
"After graduation, I was in advertising sales (radio, print, and magazine) for six years. I worked my way up to a Top 10 market and hated how cutthroat the competition was and how no one seemed to have the client's best interest at heart. I decided to go into the wonderful world of nonprofits, where I could work for a cause that I believed in. After spending two years as the program director for a nonprofit that supported woman-owned businesses, I had a query come across my desk from a client looking for a new employee. The client was Bisson Barcelona, and their new employee would be me!"

"Technology [is] truly amazing. But it's always crucial to connect with people on a personal level—both clients and the media," said Hill.

One aspect of Hill's background that helped to prepare her for a career in PR is the fact that she has worked with people her entire life.

"I get great satisfaction out of making other people happy and in helping them meet their goals. My education [in English] has come in quite handy, as writing is a major component of my daily workload," said Hill.

Q. What do you do for fun?
A. I enjoy reading, walking, skiing, socializing with friends, and I've recently taken up rock climbing.
Q. What CD was most recently in your CD player?
A. No CD in my player at this point. My iPod is usually on shuffle in my car, and I like to listen to the swing/big band channel of the digital-cable music channels.
Q. What is the last magazine you read?
A. National Geographic.
Q. What is your favorite TV show?
A. Grey's Anatomy.
Q. Who is your role model?
A. My mom.

When asked what, if anything, she would change or do differently if she had her career to do over again, Hill replied, "Not a damn thing."

The person who has most influenced Hill in her life and career is her mom. "Her strength and determination are with me on a daily basis. I sometimes wish that we lived a bit closer so that she would force me out of bed on time," said Hill.

What is Hill's advice for someone who is preparing to work in public relations?

"Get a waitressing job. If you can convince a customer that the chef is just having an off night and to come back again even after they have sent their meal back three times, you'll be great in PR," she said.

On the net:Bisson Barcelona, LLC

Barrington, NH

National Geographic

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