Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on the Communications Alumni Network Blog.
Northeastern University’s Master of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communication program attracts a diverse body of students from around the world, drawn by the opportunity to study in Boston (or remotely) and make connections with a global network of students and alumni. As the lead faculty for our Public Relations concentration, I interviewed a recent alumnus, Pablo Cateriano Llosa, who works in his family-owned PR firm in Lima, Peru.
Ed Powers (EP): Pablo, as a PR professional with several years of work experience, why did you decide to pursue a master’s degree, and why did you select Northeastern?
Pablo Cateriano (PC): PR is a dynamic field and I wanted to learn more about the use of social media channels—this is an area where Peruvian firms are lagging somewhat behind. And second, I wanted to learn about the PR scene in the U.S. In the communication sector, you have to deal with all kinds of people and [it] gives you another perspective of the world and future.
As for selecting Northeastern, I did some intensive research. I narrowed the field down to four options: three schools in the United States and one in London. The reason I chose Northeastern was that I wanted a program with social media and leadership courses, and I liked the electives. The other reason was the city; I heard a lot about Boston as an academic environment. I had also heard it’s a city that’s not too big, but not too quiet. There’s a good balance.
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EP: If you look back on your experience here, what sticks in your mind?
PC: First of all, the people that I met here—people from different countries and backgrounds with different thoughts about everything from politics to religion. The coursework helped me build a more strategic perspective on PR and how to work more effectively with a wide range of stakeholders. During my capstone course, I developed a PR strategy for a Swiss start-up company that uses drones in corporate advertising events. The company had no expertise in media relations, so I was able to provide them with practical advice. The bottom line is that Northeastern has so much to offer—I wanted to take advantage of the career fairs, the special events open to all students, and the expertise of my professors.
EP: Tell me a little bit about your experience networking while at Northeastern. You were very proactive in reaching out to influencers in the U.S. PR world.
PC: Yes, in addition to my academic work, I wanted to build a network of contacts. I did this by emailing over 60 PR leaders and journalists on the East Coast. I was surprised at how many of these individuals were willing to meet with me over coffee for informal conversations about their professional experiences and perspectives.
EP: Following graduation, you did an internship at Edelman, one of the very top global PR firms. How did you make that connection?
PC: This resulted from my networking strategy while I was a student at Northeastern. In Peru, I’m an avid reader of PRWeek. So I emailed an editor at the publication who focuses on education. I said I was Peruvian, I love PR, and I was going to a New York event sponsored by PRWeek—would he be able to meet me for a coffee. He said “Yes!”
In the course of our conversation in New York, I told him about my role in a family-owned PR firm. He said that I should meet Richard Edelman, the CEO of Edelman, who had a life experience similar to mine. That turned into a series of informal meetings and the opportunity to undertake an internship in Edelman’s digital PR practice. It was an unbelievable experience I will never forget.
EP: Now that you’ve returned to Peru, how are you applying what you learned at Northeastern?
PC: I’ll give you two examples.
First, I am building my firm’s social media capabilities. In Peru, we are only focused on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. One of our big challenges in Peru is to use social media channels more effectively in designing and implementing campaigns.
And second, I learned the importance of integrating communication functions. For my firm, I want to take a more integrated approach, encompassing media relations, marketing, and social media, to help organizations build trust and enhance their reputations.
EP: Pablo, what strikes me is that you maximized the value of your graduate experience. You combined an academic plan with a networking plan, and that resulted in valuable experiences and relationships that will help you grow professionally.
PC: Absolutely. I’d encourage every student to make the most of their time at Northeastern, to allow their passion for communication to motivate them to keep pace with our dynamic field and build a rich network of relationships.
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