Program Manager, International Programs and Media Relations
What does public relations mean to you?“To me, it means understanding the groups with whom you’re communicating, figuring out what is important to them, learning how to resonate with different publics, and communicating effectively. PR is about finding ways to encourage audiences to respond to your messaging and pinpointing how they digest information best – whether it’s through images, video or words. It’s about being adaptable and knowing how to connect on many levels.”
Can you tell us a funny story about working in PR?
“The first position I held when I moved to Washington, D.C. was the manager of communications at an association. One of my duties was to introduce new employees to the rest of the office. We had a new CFO and her degree was in public relations. I sent an internal memo out to everyone but forgot a letter in the word ‘public’. So here’s a pro tip: spell check is not necessarily your friend! Proofread.”
Would you recommend majoring in public relations to others and why?
“I would. Regardless of industry, we can all stand to communicate better. The Washington Post, Forbes, and others have reported that well under 50 percent of college grads are working in their degree field. Good jobs can be hard to find these days, so we take what we can get. But I think a degree in public relations makes you attractive and adaptable to a variety of employers. It’s a great way to make yourself marketable. It’s a skill that can be used in any arena, especially here in the Washington, D.C. region. There’s such a wide variety of opportunity. My bachelor’s degree is in journalism. I was the editor in chief of my college newspaper at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts before reporting for a few papers in the state. It’s tough out there for reporters right now. The environment for journalism is evolving. Places like the George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM), where I got my master’s, provide a good segue for people who work in journalism to get on the PR track. It’s important to have the education, but we all know that in many cases, who you know can often make the difference. Meeting future colleagues and being able to put faces to names really supplements the educational experience.”
What would you consider your most significant accomplishment in your career thus far?
“The Advocacy in the Global Environment master’s degree program that GSPM recently launched houses six Global Perspective Residencies which are short-term study abroad experiences for graduate students that I plan, manage and execute. Right now we offer residencies in Turkey, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Brazil and three East Asian capitals [Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo]. I connect students to prominent business, political, NGO and media professionals in those regions who can give them insight into regional advocacy, strategic communication and how to converse effectively on behalf of commerce or a cause. This is an invaluable experience for the students, because it’s not just sitting in the classroom learning about theoretical ways of communicating with people. There’s really no other school that provides this practical advocacy education.”
Do you think about your campaigns when you go home at night, or do you leave it at the office?
“I think there’s a misconception that if you’re always working and always available, then you’re a model employee. Instead, it’s really important to have down time. My husband, Steve, told me about an article that stated that reading and responding to emails at night can have a negative impact personally and professionally. It can be exhausting, stifle true productivity, interrupt sleep and hurt relationships with family because you’re always on. So, I’ve started to make a concerted effort to leave my phone upstairs when I get home. If it can wait until 8 a.m. the next day, then I’m going to let it wait. Doing so allows me to come into work with a calm mindset rather than worrying from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. I think it makes me a better employee, because I’m able to compartmentalize a little bit better and deliver fresh solutions.”