Featured Alum: Trent Hodson — A Journey to the Field of Public Relations

Who is Our Interviewee?

Trent Hodson from Anchorage, AK, currently living in Los Angeles, CA. Class of 2018, Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, Marketing.

Current Job Title

Account Strategist (Public Relations)

Current Organization or Company

Praytell Agency – a creative communications agency named Best Place to Work six-years straight by PRWeek U.S.

Briefly describe your current role

Each day, I have the pleasure of working with three innovative clients – Uber, Zappos, and Golden Road Brewing. Working in public relations, I am responsible for preparing press releases and other media materials, conducting media outreach, and cultivating relationships with journalists. One of my favorite parts of the role is being the intern mentor each quarter, helping interns grow as they begin their careers.

How did you get started in a career in your current sector / industry?

Once I applied to Foster and was accepted into the business program, I started talking with a few friends in the marketing sector and set up informational phone calls – one of whom worked at Praytell. After learning more about public relations, I knew this was the career path I wanted to pursue.

Upon graduating from UW in March 2018, I connected with Praytell again, looking specifically for a post-graduate internship. The only open position was for a Public Relations and Social Media Intern, but it required taking a risk by moving from Seattle to Los Angeles – I was offered the opportunity, so it became a no-brainer. After successfully completing the internship, Praytell extended the offer to join full-time beginning in August as a Junior Account Strategist. A year later, I grew into my new position as an Account Strategist, learning to lead full work streams.

How did your education at UW prepare you for your career? What was your undergraduate major?

Courses at UW, and Foster specifically, ensure students are graduating with a full skill set – whether it’s economics, accounting, or marketing, you’ll be set to jump into various roles and wear different hats (something employers look for when interviewing candidates).

Although I studied marketing specifically in college and not public relations, I’m confidently able to say the holistic-thinking needed to succeed in case competitions, entrepreneurial marketing, and other disciplines gives me a unique perspective to apply to my current industry. It’s all about the big picture, then working back to ensure every potential weak point is addressed. The constructive criticism and continual guidance at Foster definitely helped prepare me for where I am today.

What do you most enjoy about your sector / industry / job?

Public relations is an ever-changing industry. From the evolution of media outlets to how brands are shifting to focus on corporate social responsibility, it’s on us as public relations professionals to master our respective industries (technology, e-commerce, food and beverage, etc.). This, in turn, prepares us for an unpredictable and fast-paced routine – there’s yet to be a day where I have found myself twiddling my thumbs!

The industry also allows for pursuing personal passions, as it may relate to a brand – for me, one of those passions is advocating for LGBTQ+ rights. Last year, I was lucky to be a part of Elysian Brewing’s #MarryUsJVN campaign, where the Seattle-based brewery partnered with Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness to launch a contest to champion marriage equality. The campaign culminated in a beautiful LGBTQ+ wedding officiated by Jonathan Van Ness himself at Elysian’s Capitol Hill brewery. As a part of the team, I helped to coordinate local and national media coverage around the event, securing placements in Eater and Business Insider, and also was flown up to Seattle to coordinate day-of logistics for the wedding itself.

How is your current career the same, or different, than what you thought it would be when you began college?

When I first set foot on campus, I was determined to study biology with the long term goal of becoming an optometrist. After my first year on campus and hearing about the various programs Foster offered, I realized it was time to make the switch to another major – all those years of watching Shark Tank and dreaming up business ideas weren’t for nothing!

Do you have any words of advice for UW students interested in a career in your sector or industry?

Do not be afraid to speak up and reach out to individuals you normally wouldn’t talk with. Public relations is an industry centered around relationship building and trust, so it’s imperative to be your authentic self.

By Eli Heller
Eli Heller Career Coach Eli Heller