Posted At: November 6, 2013 9:25 a.m.
by Jessica Smith
Living in a small town has its perks. Knowing everyone at the grocery store, going to the same high school as your grandparents and parents, and explaining to out-of-town people how to locate Denver, N.C., are just a few.
Kelsie Murdock spent her entire childhood wanting more. She loved her small town, but knew she wanted to get out and experience something different.
Murdock is an assistant account executive for MMI Public Relations in Raleigh, N.C. She joined the firm almost two years ago.
“At first I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian, but then I realized I wouldn’t be able to put the animals down,” Murdock said. “I joined the yearbook staff and wrote for my high school newspaper and realized that I really loved writing and the reporting, so I decided to pursue it further and went to school for journalism.”
Murdock attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and majored in journalism and communications with a concentration in public relations.
“I realized PR was the best fit for me based on my existing interests — I loved promoting my friends who were in various bands, wrote for the campus fashion magazine and always loved using social media,” Murdock said. “I was always really good at social media in the sense that I’ve just always used social media. To me, it comes naturally — I grew up using and learning new social media tools as they came out. AOL Instant Messenger and MySpace taught me how to type!”
After graduating from UNC Chapel Hill, Murdock went on to become a social media specialist and after about a year moved to MMI, wanting to expand her experience beyond social media.
Murdock’s small town upbringing helped her learn about PR. She said that people typically don’t understand what she does for a living, but living in a small town taught her a lot about what she wanted out of life and who to succeed in her career.
“My grandparents still think I play around on Facebook all day, but that’s because of the generation gap,” Murdock said. “I try my best to explain it to people.”
Originally, Murdock wanted to be a writer. Her goal in high school was to become the editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine, but that changed quickly.
Murdock’s love of music, along with her passion for communicating and helping people, fueled her connection with PR. She started promoting her friends’ bands by holding events where they could perform and writing about them in publications around campus.
“I thought these bands were just great, and they weren’t very popular,” Murdock said. “I naturally wanted to help them. I started helping a few of my friends get the word out there and really just building my network.”
Murdock’s eventual career path was a natural progression. She was doing what she loved and didn’t think of it as a job.
“It was one of those things where I knew I wanted to get out of the bubble. So I did,” Murdock said. “I knew that I liked communicating and writing, so I did that. I knew I loved my friends and their bands, and I wanted to help them, so I did. It just kind of fell together. It wasn’t a struggle at all. It just kind of fell into place.”
At MMI Public Relations, Murdock said there isn’t a typical day, and that’s what makes it exciting. Murdock writes press releases, works on events and redesigns websites, among other responsibilities.
“A lot of it is media relations — beyond just sending out a release, but also looking for opportunities in the media,” Murdock said. “That could mean finding a reporter who’s interested in the same thing your client is doing, or paying attention to the news and getting your client involved in it.”
MMI does a lot of monitoring for clients. Murdock said clients want to know what’s being said about them in the industry.
Murdock made a list of advice for students thinking about majoring in PR or having a career in PR. Her main point was passion. You must be passionate and love what you do, or you won’t do it well.
1. Make sure you really want to do public relations.
2. If you don’t love it, it won’t be fun.
3. Understand that PR can be many different things.
4. Gain experience before you graduate.
5. Internships are extremely important.
6. Start early — as soon as you can figure out what kind of PR you like, and don’t like.
Murdock popped the small-town bubble to experience new and exciting things and to further her PR career. She is using her natural talents to do whatever she can to help her clients.
“If we can relate it to PR and our client needs help with it, we’ll do it,” Murdock said. “The big thing is we are an advocate for them, and we want to help them.”