We were able to catch up with the Public Relations Manager at Vivint and talk to her about her time working there. Jenna Cason graduated from BYU with a degree in Public Relations. She has also worked with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, International Sports Agency and at the Super Bowl.
UVU PRSSA: "How long have you worked for Vivint?"
Jenna Cason: "It's been a little over a year."
UVU PRSSA: "Can you walk us through an average day at Vivint?"
JC: "Well there aren’t many average days for a PR person anywhere. Here at Vivint, I head the crisis communications response, our strategy and how we react to those. So, an average day really depends on what we have going on. I field any sort of responses, with the goal of 'killing' the story. You don't want anything negative to turn into a story. So I mostly spend time on the phone with reporters trying to get stories killed. On a more exciting note, we just handled Vivint's first major product launch. We held media dinners in New York and San Francisco with our CEO and conducted a lot of briefings with reporters for the launch of Vivint Sky."
UVU PRSSA: "Is it just you or do you have a team that you work with?"
JC: "No, we have a team here. We actually just went through a lot of restructuring. We used to have a pretty robust team, but now we’re down to 3 of us internally and then we have an outside PR agency."
UVU PRSSA: "What are certain skills that when you’re interviewing or looking at a resume that you want to see that they have to bring them onto your team?"
JC: "It depends on what the job is, but in general I look for someone who is a self-starter. And even if you're fresh out of college, we want your thinking not to be 'green.' If you’re green in the field of full-time PR work, we want you to have had some sort of experience in PR and understand strategy and tactics. Another thing is that you’re a culture fit for Vivint. The culture is very atypical for a large corporation. You can look around and it’s pretty laid back.
We don’t believe in micromanaging. So we want to hire someone that if we were to give you a project, that you can handle it.
UVU PRSSA: "Tell us a little bit about your time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the NFL."
JC: "I’m from Louisiana, and football is a religion down there. I always wanted to work for the NFL. I went to school at BYU and graduated in 3 years because I went year round. I really didn’t like school. I always wanted to work but during that time I did 7 PR internships - all in sports. As you can imagine the sports industry here in Utah is pretty barren. I mean every Minor League Baseball team, the MLS soccer teams, the NBA team here, anything that I could intern with and get some sort of sports experience with, I did.
So I started applying 9 months before I graduated. I had a spiral bound notebook, and I would write down NFL teams like 'Dallas Cowboys' and then I would document when I sent my resume and portfolio. I had a resume and portfolio that I look back on now and they look terrible, but I thought they looked really good at the time. I would physically mail it to these teams, and then I would find someone to email it to. I would write down the date and take detailed notes of this, then I would follow up with a phone call 2 weeks later. I had this whole system. I would annotate everything. And all of this resulted hundreds in literally hundreds of rejection notices. Then, in the summer I flew out to the Tampa Bay buccaneers to interview with them. It was my first in person interview with a team. It’s extremely competitive. I mean you’re going against thousands of applicants. So I flew out, and two weeks letter they sent me a rejection and I was like ‘are you serious?’ I saw that they hadn’t yet filled the position, so I kept applying. I don’t know if it was because they were getting aggravated with me or what, but I think it was three times later that they actually hired me.
If you ever want to go into sports, you have to be confident and be very resilient. You have to have thick skin and not be afraid of rejection. I mean literally everyday in my inbox there would be a rejection letter. Even after I got the job with the Bucs, I kept getting rejections. I found out later that I was one of 6,000 applicants for that position. It’s extremely competitive, but I had done 7 internships. That’s the thing; everyone has a degree these days. They’re pretty common. You have to do something to set yourself apart, and for me that was internships. You can’t just graduate and then think about getting a job. In today’s society, you have to think about it years beforehand. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it is - especially in a competitive field like sports.
During my time the Buccaneers, I worked a lot. There were some nights that would sleep under my desk. Work/life balance is nonexistent in the NFL. You can’t take holidays off normally because they're during football season. Christmas and Thanksgiving are huge days for football. It’s definitely not as glamorous as people think it is, but I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. Really, really long days but I believe that’s what helped fast track me. I’m in a position now that I would otherwise not be in because of my age and years of experience, but my experience with the NFL really gave me a leg up on my peers."
UVU PRSSA: "So you said that you had 7 internships in college before you graduated. What was the one that you learned the most from?"
JC: "One of the Minor League Baseball teams. I interned with them during their season, and in baseball they play every day. That was extremely busy, especially while balancing it with a school schedule. I really learned how demanding a job in Minor League Baseball and sports in general would be. But would I ever want to work for a Minor League Baseball team? Probably not."
UVU PRSSA: "Does Vivint ever hire interns?"
JC: "Vivint actually has a pretty extensive internship and fellows program. I think that we have 35-50 interns right now. It's pretty big here, and they get very hands-on experience. The fellows are treated really well here. They’re given projects that they actually own. We don’t have an intern in the PR department right now, but that’s not to say we won't in the future. We usually hire during the summer."
UVU PRSSA: "So what advice would you give to someone that is in college but is getting ready graduate and enter the career field?"
JC: "Apply now! I’m a huge advocate of that, obviously, because I did that throughout a 9 month process. Another thing is to do internships. Come out with some work experience. A degree is great, but some work experience on top of that will put you far ahead of your peers."
UVU PRSSA: "What do you know now that you wish you would have know when you graduated?"
JC: "I wish I realized how competitive it would be to get a job. I don’t think that I realized how competitive how PR would be. You can see that by the growth of your program at UVU. It’s really come a long way. I think that companies are finally starting to realize that they need an internal PR team at all times. I think that it’s a field that is just getting the recognition that it deserves."
UVU PRSSA: "Have there been any major crises that you’ve had to deal with here?"
JC: "Yes, I’ve had to deal with huge national crisis situations and it’s so important to be collaborative when a huge crisis comes up. We're a consumer company, and anything that happens that is negative about Vivint is going to affect our sales or our customers. You have to involve not only PR, but also legal and senior management at that point. It's a huge team effort.
It’s very, very, very important that if you’re in crisis communications that you’re an even keeled person. I’m a very passionate person but sometimes I have to bridle that passion because if your PR person in a company is freaking out then that’s going to make everyone else freak out. Of all the people in the organization that have to have a level head, PR is at the top of the list."
UVU PRSSA: "Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with us and give our members some advice."