Matthew Shackelford ’15, Fleishman-Hillard

For my Princeternship with Fleishman-Hillard in Atlanta, Georgia, I had the privilege of shadowing Ms. McCall Butler ‘97 a Senior Vice President and Partner at Fleishman-Hillard who leads financial communications for the firm’s AT&T Inc. account. She began my action-packed day by explaining how she came to work at Fleishman-Hillard through her early consulting work at PricewaterhouseCoopers, her MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, and finally, her landing at Fleishman-Hillard as a part of the Communications Consulting Worldwide division, a vocational route that she herself described as “slightly circuitous.” Then, she talked about her work with AT&T, specifically the company’s financial communications, and how, while the advent of the digital marketing age and social media had altered the mediums through which companies communicate, the basic principles of any public relations and/or brand management remain the same: honesty and conciseness. Though the tone of digital communications was slightly more conversational, people always valued clarity and integrity in public relations above all else.

Next, Mr. Aeres and Ms. Gonzalez talked about their work with companies, such as two commercial materials producers based in Atlanta. They discussed the wide variety of work that Fleishman-Hillard does for its clients, including the restructuring of internal communications, analysis of business proposals, and investor relations. Moreover, they discussed the strengths that Fleishman-Hillard has in its vast network of offices all over the world that specialize in the various types of work that the firm does for its clients. One of the many keys to Fleishman-Hillard’s success in the public relations industry is the cooperation that occurs within the firm to give the client the best possible product and experience.

Afterwards, Ms. Butler had a conference call with Mr. Solomon, Senior Vice President — Corporate Communications for AT&T, and his leadership team. During this call, the group discussed the company’s focus on the customer experience. Among other things, recognition for AT&T’s commitment to deliver a superior customer experience is one task that Ms. Butler and her team pursue each and every day.

Ms. McCall Butler, Matt, and fellow Princetern Christina

We also met with Mr. Corley, a team member in Fleishman-Hillard Atlanta’s Consumer Group, and Mr. Browher and Mr. Groom, who lead digital communications initiatives for the Fleishman-Hillard Atlanta office. The group discussed the need for credibility when it comes to promoting a business and the importance of designing communications to a company’s target audience and ultimate communications goal.

According to Mr. Corley, public relations are much more convincing and efficient if the information and argument for a particular company or product comes from a third-party source rather than an advertisement. Thus, Fleishman-Hillard works to promote its clients to, for instance, technology blog writers or newspaper journalists by giving these third parties opportunities to experience clients’ product or services. As a result, Fleishman-Hillard can deliver more meaningful and credible coverage for its clients and their products. Mr. Browher discussed the need to determine the target audience and use that information to create a more effective public relations campaign for that target audience. This allows clients to efficiently market to their consumers, even if they are on a tight budget.

This Princeternship was an amazing experience for all that it taught me about the world of marketing and public, financial, and investor relations and for all of the brilliant and motivated individuals that I had the honor of meeting during my experience. Everyone was extremely welcoming and gracious to me, and I was very pleased at the fact that they all were willing to spend their time to educate me. I would like to thank Mr. Aeres, Ms. Gonzalez, Mr. Solomon, Mr. Corley, Mr. Browher, and Mr. Groom for taking time out of their busy schedules to speak with me. Most importantly, I would like to thank Ms. McCall Butler for offering to host this amazing Princeternship and being such a wonderful mentor during this wonderful opportunity. This Princeternship was truly one-of-a-kind.