Lessons from Lunch with 2 PR Pros

By Kathryn Vance

Indiana University alumni Virgil Scudder and Douglas Freeland visited
Bloomington on Friday, October 2 to share some insight into the world of public relations and media communications. Scudder is currently the president of his Florida-based public relations firm, Virgil Scudder & Associates. Freeland is the Director of Sports & Entertainment Alliances at McDonald’s and oversees the McDonald’s All American Games and Monopoly at McDonald’s.The two men have been friends for years, and that was reflected in their shared ideas of what it takes to be successful in the professional world. Their tips for success were not only insightful and interesting, but also extremely helpful to remember as we move through this intense time in our undergraduate careers.

Five nuggets of knowledge:

1. “Have a plan, but prepare to divert from it.” – Virgil Scudder

It is extremely important to think of your ideal job and where you might want to be in the future, but you must be flexible to changes. When Scudder first started out, he had several jobs including being a Broadway play critic for a newspaper. It wasn’t until 1990 that he started his own public relations firm with his son.

2. “Make sure that there’s something left for you at the end of the rainbow.”
– Douglas Freeland

As far off as it might seem, we need to start thinking about
retirement plans now, Freeland said. He suggests putting $25 or $50 in a savings account each month as soon as you get out of school. As Scudder also mentioned, you never know what might come in your future and you need to be ready. You might not need that savings fund in the future, but you certainly could. It’s important to be prepared now. 

3. “Align yourself with people who have a lot to teach you.” – Virgil Scudder

This can be said for peers, teachers, and professionals—there is no limit. You should always surround yourself with knowledgeable people because we need to be constantly learning. It is important to learn skills both within and outside the field. You never know where a piece of information might be useful down the road.

4. “The key [to a good job] is fun. There are a lot of challenges, but I also have a lot of fun.” –Douglas Freeland.

You have to find a job that makes you happy. If you can find a job that allows you to be excited for work each day, you’re in the right place. Being in a job that you don’t like isn’t the end of the world, it just means you need to find something else and be flexible to change.

5. “It’s easy to get intimidated when you’re young. Fight it.” – Virgil Scudder

Both men agreed on this point more than almost anything else—you cannot let anyone else walk all over you, no matter their stature. Working with McDonald’s, Freeland works with many big clients and celebrities. He says that it is important that you “politely demand professionalism from everyone.”


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