Member Spotlight: Mary-jo Popovici

Mary-jo Popovici is a recently retired professor of communications/public relations and former internship coordinator for the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Monroe Community College. She recently presented on how to energize and edit your writing at our Writing Summit. We sat down with her to discuss her top tips for improving your writing, her time teaching communications and PR, and her advice for both young as well as more experienced PR professionals.  

What are your top suggestions for PR practitioners looking to improve their writing?
Here are two basic tips to improve writing. First, polish initial copy by eliminating needless words, and second, focus messages by conjuring the reader, viewer, or listener.

Needless words such as that, really, truly, very are usually easily eliminated. The last four don’t add anything while that, if the sentence reads OK without it, can be tossed. Spare the use of multiple or abstract adjectives and replace them with one that paints a clear picture. 

Try to picture the receiver of your message. Who is she? What does he need? Imagine she is in front of you chatting. What would you say?

What did you enjoy most about teaching communications and PR at Monroe Community College and St. John Fisher?
The most enjoyable aspect for me as a professor was to see students begin to grasp what PR entails and, by the end of the semester, apply theories and concepts to their final project. This is a daunting task because the foundation of PR practice draws on very unique academic areas such as sociology, psychology, English and communications, and marketing. 

What is your best advice for both young and established PR professionals?  
Students who plan to enter the PR field should consider a dual major or, at least, a concentration in an additional interest area such as the environment, politics or health. In addition to at least 3 internships before graduation, a focused interest area will be critical in carving out a pathway to a career in the field. 

For current PR professionals, continuing education should be a yearly goal with clear strategies and actions to move forward. This will help fill in gaps needed to move up or move laterally. Networking professionally or taking on volunteer work in the community also builds skills and future job prospects while uncovering new interests and keeps boredom or plateauing at bay. 

With Thanksgiving two days away, what are you most thankful for this year?
As the holiday season approaches, I am thankful for the support my family and friends continually provide. This was especially meaningful this year as I not only recovered from a serious fall but chose to retire. Having family close by and lifelong friends to share experiences, both challenging and life changing, is the most important gift I cherish.