Published on October 12, 2017, at 6:45 p.m.
by Kirby Tifverman.
Brasfield & Gorrie communications manager Meg Burton says the best career advice she has received is, “there is no substitute for hard work,” and her journey as a public relations practitioner is a testament to that statement.
As a public relations major at The University of Alabama, Burton tried her hand at any and all relevant professional experience, obtaining leadership roles along the way. From serving on the executive board of the Alabama PRSSA chapter, to working three corporate internships, to writing and editing for Platform Magazine in the fall of 2009, she fully committed to honing her skills while in college.
Platform Magazine, she said, “really mirrors the real world experience; it was a really good taste of that for me. When I came out of college and got in to my first job, I had very similar responsibilities.”
In addition to her contributions to the magazine and to the College of Communication & Information Sciences, Burton also worked for The University of Alabama Alumni Association magazine as an editorial assistant. It was this role that led to her first full-time position in Birmingham, Alabama.
“A connection that I made there had seen my work and decided to introduce me to someone she knew who was recruiting for a PR and marketing position,” said Burton. “So, her recommendation helped me get a foot in the door and the job.”
Burton applies the same tireless work ethic in her current position at general contractor Brasfield & Gorrie. As the corporate communications manager, Burton leads national public relations and communication efforts for the company.
“Meg is responsible for developing and executing internal and external communication strategies, and ensuring consistent messaging across all public relations platforms to support Brasfield & Gorrie’s purpose and mission,” said Tracey Sibley, vice president of marketing for Brasfield & Gorrie. “Meg works closely with the Marketing team to communicate project-related milestones, assist with crisis management responses and support our clients’ PR efforts when needed.”
Burton says every day in this role is different, but she enjoys the variety of opportunities that come across her desk.
“It’s always juggling a lot of different things,” said Burton. “From a PR standpoint, we really try to focus our proactive efforts on building our brand in geographic markets where we don’t have as much of an established reputation.”
The construction industry, too, leads to interesting uses of public relations tactics.
“People are very interested when they see construction projects coming up. Media outlets come to us a lot, and they want to know what’s going on with our work,” said Burton. “Construction lends itself well to some really neat visual communications, and you really get to see the tangible outcomes of our work. It’s a fun industry to work in.”
Burton holds herself to a standard of excellence that encourages members of her team to strive for greatness as well.
“Meg consistently produces high-quality work, she regularly challenges herself and her team, and she is a great mentor and role model for the younger members of our team,” said Sibley.
In her current position, three full-time employees report directly to Burton. She also hires and works closely with communication interns.
“Internships are so, so, so important,” said Burton. “I would really encourage people to do at least one, and maybe even more than one, so they get to taste what it’s like to be in different organizations.”
When hiring an intern, Burton said her top criteria is the applicant’s aptitude for writing.
“What I do all day essentially boils down to writing. Whether that’s social media copy, or whether it’s providing a quote to a media outlet, or writing newsletter content — it’s kind of in everything I do,” she said. “I look at writing samples, and I also look at what that person feels like their strengths are. Then I look for that attitude, that kind of ‘can do’ attitude, somebody who’s a little bit of a go-getter and willing to learn.”
She also advises internship seekers and recent graduates to join professional organizations, like the Alabama chapter of PRSA where she serves on the executive board.
“If you can make any investment in your career, I think joining those types of organizations is a really important one,” said Burton. “I’ve made so many relationships through that organization, and while I was younger in my career it was probably one of the first areas where I took a real leadership role.”
Finally, she urges young professionals to stick with jobs early in their careers, instead of jumping from position to position. She believes resilience can lead to greater reward in your career than almost anything else.
“I had a supervisor who told me that you can do anything for two years. I kind of stopped to think about that when she said it, because that felt like a long time to us millennials,” said Burton. “But, you can do anything for two years, even if it’s hard or it doesn’t feel like exactly the right fit.”
Through dedication and consistency, Burton has distinguished herself as a leader in the public relations industry and as a mentor to many future practitioners.