Posted: November 17, 2014, 1:45 p.m.
by Jean Faircloth.
Not even two years out of college, Sam Nathews has been chosen as a “rising PR star” by PR News. PR News Online defines the characteristics of the individuals that are nominated for this honor as the “top talent, the passionate professionals and budding PR leaders and creative practitioners under 30 who day in and day out are making communications matter in the marketplace.”
So Nathews must be doing something right . . .
Where he started
According to Nathews, he began to really “get serious” in his junior year of college. He was intrigued by his professors and was discovering that the industry of public relations was a whole lot more than just shaking hands, having polite conversations and making good first impressions.
He decided to become a member of the University of Alabama chapter of PRSSA — the foremost organization for students interested in public relations and communications — and the Capstone Agency — a student-run public relations firm whose goal is to create integrated communication campaigns and materials that are both innovative and effective. Immediately upon his new membership, many opportunities to learn and prosper became readily available.
The Capstone Agency had recently adopted the LessThanUThink campaign as a central project. This was, and still is, a student-generated campaign designed to address the national problem of college-age binge drinking. Nathews said that he felt passionate about the mission, so he collected a few interested friends and signed right up. He did not initially intend to become as involved as he did, but the more he learned, the more he wanted to help.
In December 2011, Nathews became the state director of media relations for the LessThanUThink campaign. He laughed as he explained that, upon being chosen, he did not have experience working with the “real media”; rather, he had only written media requests in his classes. Of course he was nervous, but how can one gain experience without taking a few unexperienced leaps?
“I did not know Sam well before we worked on the LessThanUThink project,” said lead professor of the Capstone Agency, Teri Henley. “But, I figured that anyone who was willing to sign on for the project after I explained the magnitude of it held great promise. Sam did not disappoint. I don’t believe in going into any project without high expectations. I find that students usually rise to the level that is expected of them, so why not set the limits high?”
With the guidance of his professors, Nathews’ leap of practice without professional experience landed with all five stars.
In the spring of 2012, he successfully planned and led a press conference for Shaquille O’Neal and Alabama’s attorney general. He coordinated national and local media interviews for O’Neal. He earned more than 100 instances of media coverage in outlets that included ESPN.com, The Baltimore Sun, The Birmingham News, The Tuscaloosa News and The Associated Press. He accumulated a publicity value in excess of $90,000.
Henley worked closely with Nathews in preparation and execution of this press conference.
“I was so impressed with Sam’s professionalism and determination,” Henley said. “I recall him sitting in our press conference, and he was so composed and confident. I just knew he had great things in his future.”
Needless to say, Nathews received the experience he sought.
With such prestige and grace in his work, he was offered a communications internship with The Century Council, now known as the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. During the internship, he not only continued to strengthen his media writing skills, but he also gained more confidence in his relationship-building skills as he met with U.S. Congressional staffers to encourage their member of Congress to participate in TCC’s initiatives within their district/state.
Nathews returned to The University of Alabama in the fall of 2012 to finish up his last semester of school and continued to work with the Foundation of Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. Mid-semester, he received and accepted a job offer from the foundation. He then graduated from the University, packed his bags and moved to Washington, D.C., with great excitement.
Where is he now?
He is currently the communications manager for the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. He said that he thoroughly enjoys working in the small organization. Also, he explained that there was an ease in transition into working full time for the organization because of his summer experience as an intern. He did not have to walk into a new job filled with new faces and a totally new foundation of loyalty. He was already extremely invested in this organization’s mission, and his determination to build effectiveness for the campaign only strengthened.
Now recognized as a “rising PR star” by PR News, Nathews is definitely on the right path. He has caught many public relations practitioners’ attention. They applaud his excellence in performance in the field up to date and anxiously await his future progress.
Nathews said he is honored to be listed amongst the others in the “rising stars” category and is proud of his accomplishments thus far.
Where does he want to go?
When asked if this early spotlight impacted his current perspective of his future or placed external pressure on him, he simply answered, “No.”
“Of course I have many future goals, but I mainly want to focus on my present tasks,” Nathews explained.
He also said, “My previous treatment from my public relations professors in college guided the perspective that I currently have. They set very high standards for me while I was in school. Average was not acceptable because they expected me and all of my peers to work to our full potential, so I tried to do so in each task. I pushed my limits each and every late night or early morning as I completed my work. Being held to high standards by those that I respect created inner high standards. I am determined to take each step at a time and always perform to uphold my own standards.”
Henley reinforced Nathews’ commitment to high standards.
“In the future, I believe Nathews can do whatever he sets his mind to,” Henley said. “He has a unique combination of professionalism, competence and sense of humor that everyone loves to work with. They know he will get the job done. He is the kind of person that you can depend on and have a fun time working with, even in stressful situations. I know he is destined to be even more of a superstar than he is now.”
According to those who have worked with him, Nathews is a humble, hard working, prestigious young man with an extremely bright future. We wish him the best of luck in all of his endeavors.