Happy October PRSA New Jersey! Here is our next PRSA NJ Member Spotlight to get to know our fellow chapter members. Each month, we randomly select a member to highlight. This month, we are featuring one of our board members, Liam Oakes.
Public Relations Specialist
Rutgers University, Graduate School of Education
PRSA NJ member since October 2021
How did you get into the field of PR?
I was 15 years old when I started doing PR work. In high school, I was pretty much set on attending nursing school until I joined a FIRST robotics team. I wasn’t there to build robots; I built stories and relationships instead. I launched fundraising campaigns, wrote press releases, built relationships with local reporters and stakeholders, managed social media, and designed communication materials. But I never thought this was going to be something I’d be doing for a career at the time.
I initially attended college to study business management, but it turned out that I enjoyed reporting for the school newspaper more than studying for my major. I was also heavily involved with my school’s PRSSA chapter. So, after a year, I changed my major to public relations and graphic design. There was no way I could leave my loves: writing and designing.
What do you love most about PR?
I absolutely love how versatile this industry is. There is not one week that goes by where I don’t try something new or approach a new situation. Rarely has there ever been a time when I felt “bored” or “tired” of my job. I am always doing something different every day – and that keeps me going.
What is one of your most valuable experiences in PR?
Last year, I ran a campaign organizing a poster contest for New Jersey students in grades 1 through 12. The task was to design a poster that illustrates how schools can include students with and without disabilities and end segregation. My office received more than 600 entries from children across the state. A lot of these were group projects, which means that nearly 1,000 students participated in this contest advocating for ALL their peers to be included in schools, with an authentic sense of belonging. Children as young as 5 years old were drawing posters and writing messages advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion in their schools. For me, this is a valuable experience in PR: when your storytelling and work impact the next generation to make the world a better place.
What is the value of being a member of PRSA NJ?
The connections. I have made so many connections with professionals in New Jersey because of PRSANJ, some of whom are now great friends. Because of this, I was able to land my current position, and I have helped others do the same. Additionally, PRSA NJ hosts various professional development and recreational events throughout the year, like “Meet
the Media” (which is a great opportunity to connect with local reporters and dive into what they’re currently doing in the industry) and statewide happy hours—you never know who you’ll meet! I am exceptionally grateful to be part of this organization as it helped me professionally (and personally) grow and expand my network.