Leadership – Platform Magazine https://platformmagazine.org University of Alabama Wed, 20 Nov 2019 00:07:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3 Student-Run Agency Spotlight: Talking Dog https://platformmagazine.org/2019/11/19/student-run-agency-spotlight-talking-dog/ https://platformmagazine.org/2019/11/19/student-run-agency-spotlight-talking-dog/#respond Tue, 19 Nov 2019 23:23:48 +0000 https://platformmagazine.org/?p=20956 Published on November 19, 2019, at 5:20 p.m. by Zoie Meystayer. For public relations students, experience is everything — job opportunities begin and end with the length and quality of your résumé. Educators and professionals in the industry stress the importance of summer jobs or internships in order to gain valuable experience and portfolio additions. With these [...]

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Published on November 19, 2019, at 5:20 p.m.

by Zoie Meystayer.

For public relations students, experience is everything — job opportunities begin and end with the length and quality of your résumé. Educators and professionals in the industry stress the importance of summer jobs or internships in order to gain valuable experience and portfolio additions. With these positions under their belt, future PR professionals can hit the ground running when they begin their first jobs, having learned many of the tasks prior to their first day of work.

Developing your skills and building your portfolio aren’t just limited to the summer months. There are many ways to put the things you learn in class into practice on campus. University organizations often need someone to run their social media and plan events, both great ways to contribute to the campus community as well as put your ideas and expertise to the test. Local businesses may be eager to accept the help of a rising PR pro to develop and publicize their brand.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

In fact, schools are increasingly offering the opportunity to join student-run communications agencies. These agencies give students the chance to work with real clients under the guidance of their institution and its faculty. Student-run agencies are a great way for students to improve their skills and build their portfolios. In addition, they emulate the structure and work environment of real agency life, allowing future PR professionals to get a glimpse of how life could be post-grad.

According to Douglas J. Swanson, professor of communications at California State University-Fullerton, there are more than 150 student-run agencies in the United States. This means that universities are recognizing the need to better prepare students for the increasing demands of the workforce.

One of these organizations is Talking Dog, the full-service student-run advertising and public relations agency at the University of Georgia. Talking Dog works in collaboration with several nonprofit and for-profit clients in the Atlanta/Athens area, including Coca-Cola, Hotel Indigo and Second Helpings Atlanta.

Courtesy of Talking Dog Agency

“Talking Dog is like its own little family,” Hiba Rizvi, a senior at UGA and current co-director of Talking Dog, said. “It consists of the most brilliant and creative minds who put together meaningful work for clients that truly benefit from their efforts.” She elaborated that the organization prioritizes collaboration — that it’s an environment where everyone is willing to pitch in, even if they aren’t on the same client team.

Rizvi joined Talking Dog during the fall of her junior year. “I heard about it at a PRSSA event and thought it would be a great opportunity to get involved and gain experience with actual client work,” she explained. Now, she serves as co-director of the agency, specifically focusing on the public relations side of the multi-tasking organization. She advises client teams, serving as their first point of contact, and manages the agency’s 12-person board of directors.

Marquan Norris, Talking Dog’s director of communications, serves the agency by managing its social media and maintaining relationships with local and regional media outlets. He also advises a team of public relations specialists as they work for their client teams.

“This year, we decided to expand our numbers, so we have more clients than ever before,” Norris said. He explained that the agency approaches client work with strategy at the forefront. They begin by sitting with the client to discuss their goals and timeline, following up with a SWOT analysis to get the campaign moving in the right direction. After the initial analysis, the client team presents it to the entire agency in a massive brainstorm session designed to generate as many creative ideas and strategies as possible. This practice exemplifies Talking Dog’s collaborative culture, wherein everyone has an opportunity to contribute to every project.

When asked about Talking Dog’s greatest achievement, both Norris and Rizvi cited the agency’s collaboration with Second Helpings Atlanta, a nonprofit that strives to alleviate food insecurity in Atlanta, Georgia.

“I especially love working with Second Helpings Atlanta because, not only have they been incredibly kind, but I value working with service-based organizations so that we can give back in a way that we know how — through creativity and strategy,” Norris said. Last year, Talking Dog partnered with the organization and its annual #GivingTuesday campaign. Together, they raised over $18,000 to fight hunger, an increase of over $12,000 from the previous year.

As for the future, Rizvi has a few ideas. “We hope for the agency to eventually grow, be genuinely known as a place where members can feel at home and free to express themselves, and be recognized for their hard work by either getting experiential or internship credit,” she said.

Photo by Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash

Both students are living proof of the value that a student-run agency can add to students’ college experience as well as their résumés.

“A student-run firm in a university allows fresh minds to cultivate out-of-the-ordinary ideas with live feedback as they progress,” Rizvi noted. “Along with that, being in a university setting, we’re all in this together, at all hours, any time of the day. We see each other inside and outside of the agency, and being fellow members of Talking Dog with some of the brightest individuals allows for growth in so many more areas than just agency work.”

“Students should pursue membership in student-run agencies because it’s a great use of your time in school,” Norris added. “It’s essentially an internship, so you’re not only a member of an organization with plenty of networks, but you’re getting amazing résumé experience and working in real-world settings. You’re talking to clients, creating strategies and making results. You’ll leave college knowing that you know what you’re doing. It’s great preparation if you’re considering pursuing a role in an agency post-grad.”

In an industry where experience is everything, it can be intimidating trying to discern which opportunities are the best for you. There are so many ways for students to get their feet wet in this field, from running a food truck’s Instagram to joining a student-run agency like Talking Dog. With these organizations, undergrads can work with real clients on real campaigns, all supported by the university’s faculty and a whole slew of creative and hardworking students who are eager to make their mark. In this industry, that’s a good way to make your four years count — and you might even make some friends along the way.

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A Firsthand Glance at Mentorship https://platformmagazine.org/2019/11/06/a-firsthand-glance-at-mentorship/ Wed, 06 Nov 2019 21:36:23 +0000 https://platformmagazine.org/?p=20823 Published on November 12, 2019, at 9:40 p.m. by Ashby Brown. Merriam Webster defines a mentor as “a trusted counselor or guide.” We often overhear this daunting buzzword throughout our college curriculum and the professional sphere. While it is an extremely beneficial relationship, mentoring can often feel stiff — almost forced — in the public [...]

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Published on November 12, 2019, at 9:40 p.m.

by Ashby Brown.

Merriam Webster defines a mentor as “a trusted counselor or guide.” We often overhear this daunting buzzword throughout our college curriculum and the professional sphere. While it is an extremely beneficial relationship, mentoring can often feel stiff — almost forced — in the public relations field. 

With this preconceived notion of what mentoring is, it is important to highlight the many benefits of mentoring no matter your age or skill level. Whether you are an industry professional or a student in Introduction to Mass Communication, having a mentorship relationship can always improve your skills, and the industry as a whole.

Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

Mentee perspective

Lawson Colgate, a sophomore at The University of Alabama studying public relations, may only have a year under her belt, but she is not lacking experience in being mentored. In fact, one mentor relationship helped her feel more at home on a large campus during her first semester of college. “My mentors have not only played the role of mentoring me, but have also become my close friends,” said Colgate.

Since August 2018, Colgate has been a member of the university’s student-run communications firm, Capstone Agency. Here she found many older members willing to take time out of their day to coach her through situations, both in and out of school.

When asked about how mentoring has impacted her life, Colgate recounted a time when her mentor in Capstone Agency stayed after a meeting to let her vent about a bad situation. While this example may not sound like much, Colgate emphasized that “not only did she drop whatever she had to do to sit and let me vent to her for an hour, but she gave me advice and comforted me when I needed it most. “This moment made me realize how selfless she is, and how much she cared about me. I try to be more like her every day because she is someone I look up to,” she said.

So what qualities are needed in a mentor? Colgate had a few ideas. First, it is important to look for people who are “caring, selfless and wise,” Colgate said. “These people are the ones who are always there for you no matter what they have going on; they give you 100% of their time.” She also mentioned the importance of viewing them not only as a mentor, but as a role model. While it is important to choose someone with expertise and knowledge, it is still important to have a genuine interest in your mentor. When they speak, make sure to actually listen. Colgate advised that mentors “are wiser than you and usually know what’s best for you. Trust them and be respectful.”

Overall, Colgate concluded, “Mentoring simply gave me amazing people that I will always have in my life. It gave me people to look to when I needed help with absolutely anything.”

Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels

Mentor perspective

Karla Khodanian is a creative communications consultant based in Birmingham, Alabama. Graduating from The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in 2014, Khondanian already has around five years of experience in the communications field. Always being ahead of the game, Khodanian had impactful mentors during high school and college.

When she launched her career, she began to rely more on a few adults to mentor her through tough career decisions and everyday life. Looking back at her time as a communications professional, Khodanian stated, “I have been lucky enough to have a few amazing people consider me a guide in their lives — an honor that still feels above and beyond what I deserve!”

Khodanian mentioned that she “wouldn’t be who [she is] today if it wasn’t for those people in [her] life who took the time to mentor [her].” Because these people invested time in her life, she learned to be confident and to trust her gut. Interestingly, she found that these traits were reinforced by being a mentor to someone else. “It’s tough because the best part about being a mentor isn’t just the big moments, but all the small decisions that you’re trusted to be a part of, too,” she explained.

Khodanian urges those of us looking for a possible mentor to engage with people whose career paths we respect and admire. When scheduling a meeting, prepare to “buy them a cup of coffee and ask good questions. Not just about what they do at work, but about what makes them tick, why they made certain decisions, and how they got to where they are today,” she said.

What qualities should someone seek in a mentor? According to Khodanian, the number one tip is to look for “someone who doesn’t speak in trite buzzwords and platitudes — someone who isn’t afraid to be just as honest as they are encouraging.” Looking for these qualities as well as an availability to meet is crucial to finding an effective mentor.

Lastly, Khodanian shared a quote from Brené Brown: “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” This quote is important for Khodanian, as it illustrates a lot about mentoring for her. “You can spend a lot of time as a mentor reflecting on the past, and a lot of time as a mentee trying to predict your future, but at the end of the day all either of you truly has is right now,” she said. “It’s a very special thing to share the ‘right now’ moment with someone who you admire and trust.”

In the wise words from Brown: Go out. Show up. Let yourself be seen. A mentoring relationship may just be your first step, but it definitely won’t be your last.

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HUNTER: An Agency That Earns It https://platformmagazine.org/2019/10/14/hunter-an-agency-that-earns-it/ Mon, 14 Oct 2019 21:38:44 +0000 https://platformmagazine.org/?p=20533 Published on October 14, 2019, at 5:00 p.m. by  Gabrielle Sirois. Grace Leong was studying for her Intro to PR class at the University of Delaware when she came across the name Barbara Hunter in her textbook. She read about how Hunter and her sister were the first women to own their own PR agency [...]

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Published on October 14, 2019, at 5:00 p.m.
by  Gabrielle Sirois.

Hunter and Leong
Courtesy of HUNTER

Grace Leong was studying for her Intro to PR class at the University of Delaware when she came across the name Barbara Hunter in her textbook. She read about how Hunter and her sister were the first women to own their own PR agency after purchasing Dudley-Anderson-Yutzy in 1970. It became Leong’s goal to meet and work with Hunter. Leong achieved this goal, and much more.

Leong has served as the CEO of HUNTER for 20 years, an agency that she helped Barbara Hunter create. As the agency’s 30th year comes to a close, it continues to be a leader in the communications field, servicing prominent clients such as Tabasco, 3M, Amazon and Johnson & Johnson. What has allowed HUNTER to stay successful after all these years? The answer is simple; the agency has earned it.

What exactly does “earning it” mean? “We believe that everything we do has to be earned, whether it’s the consumer attention, client relationships we have and certainly the dedication of the staff must be earned every single day,” said Leong. Donetta Allen, a partner who oversees the digital practice at HUNTER, said that she tries to earn the respect of her clients and her specialists every day. She also knows that everywhere she goes she is a calling card for HUNTER, so she must make sure that she is earning respect for the agency as well.

This year the agency went through a rebranding from Hunter Public Relations, to just HUNTER, an integrated marketing communications agency.

According to Leong, this rebranding was a reflection of what was happening naturally in the company. “Our clients have helped us realize that we have been doing more than just PR for years, and our name wasn’t reflecting this,” she explained. “The rebrand was really just a way to be better reflective of who we are today — one team of experts on different subject matters in the marketing field surrounding the client and bringing a total solution opportunity to these clients.” Allen echoed that the rebranding has opened up more opportunities for the agency to continue branching out into work outside of the traditional public relations realm including consumer insight work and creative services.

Courtesy of HUNTER

HUNTER’s comprehensive services have made it a king of client retention. Its first-ever client, Tabasco, continues to work with the agency today, 30 years later. Many other clients have long tenures with the agency, several of them for over a decade.

Leong chalked this longevity up to the agency’s willingness to say yes. “We’re really good at saying yes, yes and we will figure it out. Some of our best clients came to us with a problem that we didn’t even think we could solve but we said yep, we’ll give it a try. I think that clients like agencies that have guts, that have ingenuity, that are curious about what could happen,” she said.

Allen also noted the dedication of the staff as a driving factor in client retention. “We have had the same leadership here for decades, which is very rare in this industry,” she explained. “What comes with that are people who have a passion and a drive for the work. You are committed 100% to the people of the agency, as well as our clients. That is why we are blessed to have so many clients with us for so long. Our tenure with these brands is because of the people who are working on the business and who care about the business.”

HUNTER isn’t just great at keeping clients happy; it is great at keeping employees happy as well. In 2018, HUNTER was named one of PR Week’s Best Places to Work. Leong said, “When I look back on my career, I am most proud of what I have done in HR, not PR.” To explain the culture that she has worked to create at HUNTER, Leong used the analogy of a fish out of water: “Fish can’t swim without water, and it has to be clean and it has to be healthy, it has to be constantly running, it has to be refreshed, full of nutrients and things that help that organism grow.”

Leong and the rest of the management team intentionally try to keep the agency small (the agency currently has 120 employees with an office in New York and in London), so that they can maintain this culture, which both Leong and Allen described as a family-type environment. “We really do care about the people. We care about how people are doing, their own growth, their own enjoyment and satisfaction of the work — that’s important to us,” said Allen.

Courtesy of HUNTER

“I have a stack of thank-you notes; I keep every single one,” said Leong. “I pull them out from time to time and read them to remind myself what my real job around here is, to create a culture here where people are inspired, where they can work hard, where they can earn their work, they can feel respected, they can feel creative, they can feel supported by a family.”

HUNTER has been no stranger to awards in its tenure and one place where it continuously stands out is in its digital strategy. Allen contributed the agency’s digital success to approaching the content with an “earned sensibility.” Digital and social media is seen as an owned media source since brands are able to tell their own stories without having to go through a media gatekeeper. Allen said that a lot of people tend to approach digital media from an advertising perspective, to just get the content in front of the consumers in hopes that they will pay attention.

“We approach our digital strategy looking at insights,” she noted. “What are our consumers interested in, what drives them, what’s gonna get them interested in our story?” She said that HUNTER remains able to stay at the forefront of digital trends because first and foremost, the employees are digital consumers too. Their love for the digital industry drives them to want to keep up with what is happening in the world and to explore different platforms and how brands can tap into them.

When asked what is next for the agency and where they see it going in the future, Leong and Allen both knew one thing with certainty — they would continue to “earn it.” In the long term, Leong said that the agency has lots of opportunities for growth, particularly within the digital and entertainment spaces, as well as in the client services space.

Leong believes no one does client services quite like HUNTER, because of the amount of care their staff invests into each of their clients. They work to create great experiences for their clients because people are drawn to experiences and not things. “We have plenty of clients who we might not deliver the results we thought we could, but the experience has been illuminating and fun and educational and insightful, and long term that’s our opportunity — to continue to deliver great service,” she said.

Allen added that it is hard to predict where the agency will go in such an ever-changing and evolving industry. “I can’t tell you right now what’s going to happen 10 years from now,” she said. “Who knows where we will go 10 years from now but the core thing is to always remember that people need to feel connections, they need to feel like they are understood. That’s where this whole approach that we have of earning attention and engagement comes from, knowing what consumers need and want, so that is going to continue to drive everything we do.”

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Alumna Spotlight: Becca Bryant https://platformmagazine.org/2019/10/07/alumna-spotlight-becca-bryant/ Mon, 07 Oct 2019 21:06:03 +0000 https://platformmagazine.org/?p=20266 Published on October 7, 2019, at 4:05 p.m. by Ashby Brown. Becca Bryant, an account supervisor at Burson Cohn and Wolf (BCW) in New York City, may be known as the Bama girl in the Big Apple, but she is much more than that. She is a Platform Magazine alumna, a New York City adventurer [...]

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Published on October 7, 2019, at 4:05 p.m.
by Ashby Brown.

Becca Bryant, an account supervisor at Burson Cohn and Wolf (BCW) in New York City, may be known as the Bama girl in the Big Apple, but she is much more than that. She is a Platform Magazine alumna, a New York City adventurer and a trivia whiz.

Bryant grew up outside of Birmingham, Alabama, never really knowing what she wanted to do when she grew up. She didn’t always envision public relations as her lifetime career but rather thought she could be a fashion buyer.

As high school came to a close, she began meeting with public relations professionals to understand more about what the industry really entails. During these meetings, everything they said sounded interesting to her. “I thought it was something I could be good at, so that’s what I went to school for,” said Bryant. Once beginning she began studying public relations at The University of Alabama, she stayed with the program for all four years, eventually leading to a PR career.

“I almost feel like if you make it through all four years and you actually enjoy working in the field, you’re almost an exception to the rules,” said Bryant. “I feel very blessed.”

Bryant believes that public relations is an industry where you have to get your hands dirty. “You have to actually practice it before you can really understand it,” she explained.

While she was an Alabama student, Bryant was a member of Capstone Agency, the university’s student-run, integrated communications firm. She was an integral part of the LessThanUThink (LTUT) campaign, an anti-binge drinking campaign started at the university. Along with all of their hard work on campus, the LTUT team also collaborated with Shaquille O’Neal to do a promotional video with their unique branded T-shirt. This extended the reach of the campaign beyond the University of Alabama, making other universities interested in partnering with the campaign.

Capstone Agency wasn’t the only place she worked during college — she made sure to take advantage of her summers working as an intern. Between the LTUT campaign and internships, she felt like she was ready to take on the “real world” of public relations upon graduation.

Bryant began her first post-graduation job as an intern at DVL Seigenthaler in Nashville, Tennessee. She not only learned more about public relations there, but she also learned a few life lessons. One of the most important lessons was how to live alone in a new city on an intern salary, a lesson all college students may need to learn.

As an intern, she wanted to learn anything and everything she could get her hands on. By embracing opportunities and always asking questions, she was later promoted to a full-time position. Two years after being promoted, she made a move back to her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, to work at BIG Communications.

At BIG, she was given even more responsibility than her last position, and she made the work her own.
Bryant’s career quickly took off, but she still had a dream lingering in the back of her mind.

“I had that fire to move to the big, bad city,” said Bryant. “That was a point in my career where I knew if I didn’t do it then, I’d never do it, and that scared me.”

Photo by Heather Shevlin on Unsplash

She buckled down and began searching for opportunities in New York City. Finding a job at BCW, she followed her gut and moved to the city that never sleeps to pursue her dreams. She now works as an account supervisor on the digital team.

When asked about what her job entails, Bryant replied, “Just like any job in public relations, it’s hard to melt down exactly what I do on a day-to-day basis.” She mainly works on content strategy and planning, community management, integrated programs, overall digital visibility and everything in between. The digital team works with the other departments to develop comprehensive campaigns, seeing them from planning to execution.

She believes working at an agency is never dull. “Not only are the tasks different day to day, but the actual work and the clients we serve are different every day,” Bryant noted. “You kind of have to put on a different hat to serve each client.”

Bryant just had her one-year anniversary in New York, and she is loving her time in the “big, bad city.”
Being a seasoned professional, she now has advice for aspiring public relations practitioners:

1. Writing (and math) skills will always be needed for PR.
Regardless of what you do in public relations, you will be writing. Bryant said, “Whether you’re writing for a client or to a client, internally or externally, writing can tell you a lot about a person, and that is something we all need to continue to work on.” Another skill that will be important for future PR professionals is reporting and analytics. “A lot of PR professionals will say they hate math and they hate numbers, but analytics and metrics are one of the things I actually enjoy because it is proof of your work,” Bryant explained. This practice is becoming more important than ever to show return on investment (ROI) to clients.

2. Go for it!
The one piece of advice Bryant wishes she could tell her younger self would be to get over your fear of failure. “I would tell her to go for it and not be afraid to go. It’s not a failure if you learn something on the back end. Everyone is going to make mistakes, but it is what you do with those mistakes that matter,” she said.

3. Find a mentor.
Bryant’s most important career advice is to connect with a mentor. She asserted, “Finding a mentor is a huge thing, and I found one early on. It’s motivating, they’re there for you. You always have someone that you can lean on, but also that you look up to and want to be in your career.”

4. Have a positive attitude.
Over the course of her career, Bryant has learned many things, but the most notable in her opinion is to have a positive attitude. “We face so many challenges day to day — whether that’s a tough client, a tough project or a run-in with a co-worker — we are always facing some conflict,” she explained. “I think it’s so easy to get pulled down because the work we do is tough. One of the only things you have control of is your attitude.”

5. Be curious.
“Keep asking questions. Never stop learning. Be willing to do the work. You’re never going to know everything about this industry. Find smart people and keep asking them questions. Be curious. No matter how long you’re in it [the industry] be curious,” Bryant advised.

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

Looking to the future, Bryant’s five-year plan is to have NO plan. “I’m careful to not set stringent goals because I don’t want it to restrict me from other opportunities,” she said. “I think I leave an open-ended goal to continue to move up and advance and look for other opportunities.”

Over five years since graduation, her impact on The University of Alabama campus is still felt.

“Becca was an incredible asset to the LTUT team, and I believe our leadership on the team has continued to grow. We are constantly searching for new ideas, and reviewing past plans books from this team,” said Jill Marks, the current account executive for the LTUT campaign. “We have all of their past files, and this innovative team allows us to look for inspiration in the creative ideas they came up with.”

Where will Bryant be in the future? We may not know now, but with her open mind and positive attitude, she is bound to be doing some amazing things.

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Profile: Dr. Veronica Clark-Holland https://platformmagazine.org/2019/04/18/profile-dr-veronica-clark-holland/ Thu, 18 Apr 2019 03:08:47 +0000 https://platformmagazine.org/?p=19363 Published on April 17, 2019, at 10:08 p.m. by Dasia Greer. Professors are there to guide you, give you practical experience in your desired field, and ultimately equip you with skills you need for the workforce. Veronica Clark-Holland, Ed.D., an adjunct public relations instructor at The University of Alabama, embodies all these qualities and more. [...]

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Published on April 17, 2019, at 10:08 p.m.
by Dasia Greer.

Professors are there to guide you, give you practical experience in your desired field, and ultimately equip you with skills you need for the workforce. Veronica Clark-Holland, Ed.D., an adjunct public relations instructor at The University of Alabama, embodies all these qualities and more.

Clark-Holland, a seasoned PR professional with more than 20 years of experience, realizes the importance of students gaining practical experience in the classroom that will prepare them for life post-graduation. She teaches PR Writing and has been at the University since 2016.

Photo via LinkedIn

“I enjoy lending practical approaches and applications to my students,” said Clark-Holland. “I try to bridge the gap between the classroom and the real PR world.”

Clark-Holland received her B.A degree from Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She then obtained her M.A and doctoral degrees from The University of Alabama.

She held the positions of associate VP for public relations and director of public relations at Stillman College. In these positions, she developed and implemented integrated communications, strategic and marketing plans for increased branding and positioning, served as convener/chair of the Convocations and Special Events Committee, and coordinated all major collegewide events while serving as a liaison for off-campus organizations.

Clark-Holland also has served as the director of public relations at Wiley College where she simultaneously served as the chief marketing officer and spokesperson for the college, provided expert vision and leadership on branding and marketing strategies and tactics that enhance all sectors of the college, and established and maintained channels of communication among college councils, committees and general administrative offices of the college, and served as one of the primary policy researchers for the president.

She recently launched an advertising and PR consulting firm, “Holland & Associates,” with her husband this past summer.

Photo via Unsplash

With an extensive background in PR, she has a plethora of knowledge and skills to share with her students.

Omario King, one of Clark-Holland’s current students, is thankful for her constant guidance and leadership.

“Her curriculum is challenging enough to push you, but her delivery is concise enough for students to retain tons of information before leaving her class,” said King. “We are able to apply what we learned in class in the real world.”

Clark-Holland encourages her students to intern to continuously learn skills to enhance their verbal and written communications skills and to develop into well-rounded students adequately prepared for the workforce.

Be sure to take advantage of internship opportunities, paid and unpaid,” said Clark-Holland. “Internships in the nonprofit sector teach you how to efficiently manage resources.”

Clark-Holland attributes her success in the PR field to her passion for the profession.

“PR energizes me. I enjoy doing what I do. When you enjoy doing what you do, you’re good at it,” Clark-Holland said.

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Company Profile: Advent https://platformmagazine.org/2019/04/17/company-profile-advent/ Wed, 17 Apr 2019 05:03:14 +0000 https://platformmagazine.org/?p=19223 Published on April 16, 2019, at 10:15 p.m. by Hudson Nuckolls. Moving people Advent is a company in Nashville, Tennessee, that “designs experiences that move people.” The employees consider themselves trailblazers in an industry that the company is forging by itself. “There’s not really an industry for us,” said Libby Cook, one of Advent’s strategic [...]

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Published on April 16, 2019, at 10:15 p.m.
by Hudson Nuckolls.

Moving people
Advent is a company in Nashville, Tennessee, that “designs experiences that move people.” The employees consider themselves trailblazers in an industry that the company is forging by itself.

“There’s not really an industry for us,” said Libby Cook, one of Advent’s strategic account managers. “Some people lump us into marketing, which is not really accurate. Some people lump us into graphics, which is not accurate either.”

What does Advent do?
The most accurate category is “brand experience consulting,” according to Cook. Advent works with groups like professional sports executives, college athletic departments, and academic administrators to design spaces such as locker rooms, athletic or academic offices, lobbies, among other things. It is intently focused on telling a brand’s story to its audiences through tangible, physical and interactive experiences. These audiences can be students, student-athletes, recruits, donors, fans and more.

How does Advent do it?
Its process is based on a book by Tim Brown called “Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation.” Design Thinking is a five-step process: empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test.

Cook also explained that another important part of the process is the updates. “We design everything we do with a desired level of adaptability, because we never want a facility to be a monument to the day it was built.”

This can also be useful for when stats change or when an athlete falls out of favor. Changes can be made quickly and easily.

Clients
What began as a sign shop that created trade show booths has now completed more than 2,000 projects in the last 10 years. Advent has worked with brands ranging from the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys to notable academic and athletic institutions like USC, Stanford and North Carolina basketball. It has also done smaller projects with organizations like the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder and the NHL’s San Jose Sharks.

Not just designers, but creators
About a year ago, Advent’s tagline evolved from “designing experiences that move people” to “creating experiences that move people.” Design, while a large part of its process, is only a portion of what it does. As its website notes, “With our clients … we evaluate, imagine, design, engineer and build.”

“We felt like ‘create’ encapsulated more of the whole business than just design,” explained Rick Myers, Advent’s director of marketing. “You can design and not create, not build, and not fabricate or engineer, but we do all of those things.”

What sets Advent apart?
The company is built on three main pillars, which it refers to as its “uniques”: audience insight, creative DNA and mojo.

Audience insight
As with any great marketing or PR campaign, research-based insights about target publics should inform strategic decisions, and they do at Advent. “We are going to figure out who your audiences are and what’s going to move them,” Myers said.

The company doesn’t just talk about research — it’s the foundation of everything it does. According to CollegeChoiceStudy.com, Advent partnered with Samford University’s Brock School of Business and commissioned a “study of over 1,700 Centennial high school students aimed at understanding the role the eduscape — the physical structure of the campus — plays in determining college choice.” In 2018, it released an analogous study of “athletiscape,” partnering with the Samford University Center for Sports Analytics, to find out why student-athletes made their college decisions.

As a part of the “empathize” step of the Design Thinking process for each individual project, the Story team starts by “storymining,” or interviewing a wide array of those involved with a brand: donors, coaches, student-athletes, fans, athletic directors, alumni, administrators and more. Cook said sometimes they’ll get up to 15 interviewees. Then the Advent team goes through all of the responses and looks for trends, themes and an overarching brand voice. This means that no two projects are the same, since no two brand voices are the same.

Creative DNA
Advent wants to create at its very core. One of its keys to this goal is fostering strong collaboration, both externally with its clients and internally among its own teams. It is able to accommodate clients with no creative expertise, but also work with those that share the same creative DNA.

The emphasis on research and “storymining” also gives each project its own unique foundation. Myers said, “We are going to create something that is unusual and unlike anything else. We are going to try to do something different every time.”

Mojo
The company wants to go where no one else has gone before. It has adopted the philosophy from a book by W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne called “Blue Ocean Strategy,” which describes a marketing theory about “creating and capturing uncontested market space, thereby making the competition irrelevant.” According to Advent’s website, in order to do this, it has to be “bold and uncompromising.”

“The whole premise is, if you’re in the middle of where all of the ships are fighting, you’re not going to be very successful. We challenge our team members to look for the blue ocean on every project,” Myers added.

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Telling its own story
Advent tells its own story by highlighting its clients’ stories. “Our client’s story is the story. We’re not the story, we’ve never been the story, and we don’t want to be the story,” Myers said.

The company takes a backseat and lets its work with high-profile brands do the talking. The background of its website is black strategically, so its client work pops off the screen. A lot of its own content about itself is usually tone-on-tone and understated to differentiate it from the stunning client work.

The future
In the last few months, Advent moved into a brand new headquarters, signaling a huge step for the company. This new space empowers the different teams to collaborate like they never have before. The number of rooms that allow for collaborative meetings has tripled or quadrupled, according to Myers, who loves the new space. “For a team as collaborative as ours, the old space was limiting,” he said.

According to Myers, the company has three main goals for the future: dominate the college market, become globally recognized, and be a thought and creative leader in the industries it touches. Advent hopes to find more blue oceans, go where no one else has gone, and keep moving people while doing it.

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Erica Dias and The B Firm PR https://platformmagazine.org/2019/04/15/erica-dias-and-the-b-firm-pr/ Mon, 15 Apr 2019 21:33:20 +0000 https://platformmagazine.org/?p=19178 Published on April 15, 2019, at 4:33 p.m. by Dasia Greer. As a teenager, Erica Dias had dreams of becoming a wardrobe stylist. Following those dreams, Dias went on to obtain a fashion merchandising degree from San Francisco City College and a cosmetology license. After graduating, she began working in television as a wardrobe stylist [...]

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Published on April 15, 2019, at 4:33 p.m.
by Dasia Greer.

As a teenager, Erica Dias had dreams of becoming a wardrobe stylist. Following those dreams, Dias went on to obtain a fashion merchandising degree from San Francisco City College and a cosmetology license. After graduating, she began working in television as a wardrobe stylist for several companies, including Dorito, Comcast and Macy’s. After working as a wardrobe stylist for many years, Dias then started doing freelance PR with her sister, Ashley Jernigan. They decided to merge Dias’s expertise in the fields of fashion and beauty with Jernigan’s expertise in hospitality to create The B Firm PR.

Named after their father, The B Firm PR has morphed into a boutique publicity and marketing firm with locations in Atlanta, Montgomery and San Francisco. It represents clients in a wide variety of sectors, including hospitality, fashion and beauty, entertainment, lifestyle and sports.

Dias believes being thorough in her initial consultations with clients sets the foundation for effective personal relationships and business ventures. “When consulting with clients, I want to know their day-to-day situations and how PR is going to fit into their life,” Dias said. “PR is a personal relationship. I’m trying to get to know them as much as I can in that consultation.”

Photo via Erica’s Table of 20

As an extension of The B Firm PR, Dias launched her signature networking series titled “Erica’s Table of 20” in 2015. Each Table of 20 event is hosted in a different city, and 20 people are selected to receive a golden ticket to attend.

“When I moved to Atlanta, I kept meeting the same people at the same events. I wanted to create something that I can use to network, fellowship and engage with other people in a relaxed setting while we share our stories,” said Dias. Dias celebrated her 31st Table of 20 this past summer, and the 32nd will take place in May in Nigeria, LA or Chicago.

With Dias spearheading the fashion, beauty, entertainment and sports sectors of their firm and Jernigan dominating the hospitality sector, these sisters are collectively building a PR empire.

Dias and Jernigan wholeheartedly cherish their multidimensional relationship. “My sister has been a major part of the growth and development of our firm and even my personal growth,” said Dias. “Us being able to balance having a sisterhood and a business has strengthened our relationship tremendously.”

Jernigan stands in agreement with her sister’s description of their personal and business relationship. “The triumphs and tribulations of our business have brought us closer together, because no matter how hard things get, our sisterhood is stronger than any issue.”

Dias encourages college students to intern and gain experience in their preferred fields. “Intern, intern, intern — I can’t stress it enough. With no internships under your belt, it won’t be as easy,” Dias said. “Seek knowledge through experience.”

Photo via Abbie Carter Franklin

Gained from more than 10 years in the PR field, Dias has a wealth of knowledge readily available to those pursuing careers in PR.

Erica’s words of wisdom
“Where your focus goes your energy flows. Focus on the focus. Set your eyes on the prize. If you want to master something, focus on that and everything else will fall into place.”

“Building strategic, authentic, important relationships is important in the world of PR. Be direct, be clear, be kind and be professional at all times.”

“You can’t be the Jackie of all trades and master none.”

“Know that PR is a process, not a product. Do not expect instantaneous results.”

As a result of her hard work, Dias is the PR genius behind many high-profile entertainment stars, such as Dianna Williams from the hit Lifetime reality show “Bring It.” Dias also represents corporations such as world-renowned Bronner Bros, nonprofit organizations, athletes and multibillion-dollar fashion and beauty brands.

“I credit all of my success to God,” Dias said. “Every morning when I wake up, I am ready to attack, and I have a positive outlook on my journey and what’s to come.”

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Jessica Randazza-Pade: An Ethical, Honest and Innovative Powerhouse https://platformmagazine.org/2019/04/08/jessica-randazza-pade-an-ethical-honest-and-innovative-powerhouse/ https://platformmagazine.org/2019/04/08/jessica-randazza-pade-an-ethical-honest-and-innovative-powerhouse/#comments Mon, 08 Apr 2019 16:32:44 +0000 https://platformmagazine.org/?p=19173 Published on April 11, 2019, at 11:40 p.m. by Whitney Blalock. Jessica Randazza-Pade’s successful career commenced long before she declared a major or was hired for her first job — public relations was beckoning her from just 14 years old. A day in the office at o2ideas sealed the deal for her. Even as a [...]

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Published on April 11, 2019, at 11:40 p.m.
by Whitney Blalock.

Jessica Randazza-Pade’s successful career commenced long before she declared a major or was hired for her first job — public relations was beckoning her from just 14 years old. A day in the office at o2ideas sealed the deal for her. Even as a stapler and a filer, she felt the transparent and invigorating energy of agency-life and knew she always wanted to be a part of that buzz.

Like most children, Randazza-Pade was unfamiliar with the term “public relations,” until her mother explained. While witnessing the stories unfold after the 1992 McDonald’s coffee scare, young Randazza-Pade turned to her mother and blurted, “McDonald’s should just apologize. They should recognize that they did something really wrong, and they should apologize.” Her mother immediately picked up on Jessica’s ethical inclination and honest disposition — traits that have since set her apart in the industry. It was a few years after this conversation that Randazza-Pade’s mother let her spend the day in o2ideas’ office where her close friend worked.

Randazza-Pade grew up in Homewood, Alabama, to a modest family. Her father was a chef, and her mother a stay-at-home mom until she decided to go back to school. Her mother’s commitment to education was Randazza-Pade’s inspiration for enrolling at The University of Alabama. “[UA] was really a great foundation for me to fall in love with the thing [PR] I thought I was in love with, but better understand it,” said Randazza-Pade. “I spent countless hours in Reese Phifer Hall [home of the UA public relations program]. When I was in school, the computer labs had giant computers — big desktop computers — and I learned InDesign on one of those giant computers, and I just found it all so enchanting.”

Even more enchanting was Randazza-Pade’s guest relations internship her sophomore year at Walt Disney through the Disney College Program. “Being able to be a part of a brand that is so thoughtful from end to end on what they are, what they represent and what they want to bring to the world lit me on fire,” said Randazza-Pade. That fire still burns as she deliberately works to bring that memorable experience to life for other businesses that have a responsibility and good intentions for the world.

Unfortunately, interning at Disney meant losing her scholarship to UA, a risk Randazza-Pade was willing to take. Her mother worked at The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), so Randazza-Pade continued her education there to avoid graduating with heaps of debt. “It was truly the right thing,” said Randazza-Pade.

During her time at UAB, Randazza-Pade served as the president of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and the Public Relations Council of Alabama, and later the vice president of chapter development on the national board of PRSSA. “I got to be with these people who now have gone on to do exceptional things and connect with [UAB] in a real way, becoming less about academics and more about the practical or practitioner side of it. Really understanding what the implications and applications of public relations are in the world, how does that actually manifest itself and then trying to do real work and understand that more thoroughly before I even graduated, it was quite a gift,” shared Randazza-Pade.

Putting what she learned in and out of the classroom to work, Randazza-Pade has held positions at Publicis Seattle, Danone and, currently, Ideo. In these roles, she has made her ethical, innovative and strategic thoughts evident. While at Danone, Randazza-Pade was a client of Sofia Hernandez. Hernandez called Randazza-Pade “a breath of fresh air” and “innovative in her thinking.”

Hernandez described “Jess” as casual and personable, while still exuding brilliance and adding value, a testament to Randazza-Pade’s humbleness.

“I’ve always been impressed with [Jess’] ability, as a woman and as a senior leader, to really own who she is and not play into the stereotype of what a ‘boss lady’ is supposed to be,” said Hernandez. “A lot of times women feel like they need to act like the boys once they get to the top, or to even make it to the top. Or that they have to be very serious. Jess is very smart but also very personable.”

And make it to the top she has! Named one of Brand Innovators 40 under 40 and Elle Magazine’s 30 at 30, Randazza-Pade is no stranger to accolades. She responds humbly and embarrassed to such praise, crediting her success to hard work.

Randazza-Pade’s love language is words of affirmation, so while compliments motivate her, she is deeply driven by feeling good about the work she pours herself into. “The guiding principle for everything that I’ve done, and though it seems a little nonlinear, has always been do I wake up and feel good about [what I do],” said Randazza-Pade.

Inversely, Randazza-Pade has received her fair share of constructive criticism. Being told by a previous boss that she had “imposter syndrome” spurred her to take a step back and assess herself. Coming from an agency background, Randazza-Pade was accustomed to having a competitive edge and speaking up so her ideas were heard first. Shifting gears to a more corporate environment required her to collaborate and “actively make sure [she is] a person that pulls people with [her], versus just trying to sail past them.”

Zoe Finch Totten, a consultant for Randazza-Pade at Danone and constant mentor, attested to Randazza-Pade’s active response to criticism. “Jess is really committed to consciously growing herself, personally and professionally. And that’s a striking quality in a human being,” explained Finch Totten.

Evident through conversations with Hernandez and Finch Totten, Randazza-Pade is unmistakably “curious,” “intelligent,” “approachable,” “honest,” “kind,” “connective” and “courageous,” just to name a few characteristics.

Hernandez emphasized Randazza-Pade’s willingness to build others up, connect, promote collaborative improvement, and work toward shared success at the end of the tunnel. Hernandez compared Randazza-Pade to a meme of women lifting other women up, a testimony to her character.

Randazza-Pade is now expert-in-residence at Ideo, a job for which she said she should kiss the ground every day. “Being able to share the work that [Ideo is] doing in a way that is meaningful for the world, and being in a place that is entirely built on trying to create meaningful change and then being able to tell those stories is exactly the mashup of everything I’ve ever dreamed of,” said Randazza-Pade.

Finch Totten acknowledged her biggest impact as one of Randazza-Pade’s mentors was “reinforcing her confidence, and her smarts and her ethics — her hard-working ethics.” From an early age, Randazza-Pade’s moral compass has been a guiding force. Honest and direct, Randazza-Pade embodies characteristics that are far too uncommon.

Grit, purpose, curiosity, innovation and collaboration — just a few reasons Randazza-Pade is where she is today. Her suggestions to her 21-year-old self are to spend more time listening than talking, to not be afraid to ask questions, to really give yourself the presence while you’re there and to allow yourself to be present in the work. The 21-year-old Randazza-Pade may not have known all of this, but it’s safe to say she’s found success regardless.

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The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in PR https://platformmagazine.org/2019/04/03/the-importance-of-diversity-and-inclusion-in-pr/ Wed, 03 Apr 2019 21:03:29 +0000 https://platformmagazine.org/?p=19157 Published on April 3, 2019, at 4:03 p.m. by Cassidy Anderson. The lack of diversity and inclusion in the world of public relations is a gargantuan issue in the field. The PR industry cannot succeed without encouraging heterogeneity among its professionals. The quest to diversify has intensified in recent years and has the support of [...]

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Published on April 3, 2019, at 4:03 p.m.
by Cassidy Anderson.

The lack of diversity and inclusion in the world of public relations is a gargantuan issue in the field. The PR industry cannot succeed without encouraging heterogeneity among its professionals. The quest to diversify has intensified in recent years and has the support of members of The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations and other organizations.

The following quotes about diversity and inclusion came from The Plank Center Professionals Roundtable discussion that took place at The University of Alabama on February 9, 2019. This small discussion group was led by Plank Center board members Ron Culp, Maria Russell and Kevin Saghy.

PR’s biggest issue
Though it seems as if there should be a singular cause of the lack of diversity and inclusion in the PR industry, there is not. Ron Culp outright said, “There isn’t any [diversity and inclusion]. It’s essentially nonexistent” in response to what he believes as the biggest concern.

One solution, however, is education. But even then, there are issues with whom to educate about PR as a profession.

Photo via Unsplash

“How far back do you go into schools to educate students that PR is a career choice? I’ll give Ron a lot of credit because he partnered with [Midtown Education Foundation] in Chicago to do something about this … and created summer programs for high school students, inner-city kids, who got to come all summer and really learn what PR is,” said Kevin Saghy.

Culp shared that, when surveyed, students in the program reported starting with zero knowledge of public relations. After the program, 44 percent of the male students and 58 percent of the female students said they would consider PR as a major. Since this discovery, Culp said that PRSA is working to continue the initiative by creating a program template and sending it to other organizations to implement. “But this is just scratching the surface,” said Culp.

Maria Russell added, “A lack of identity for the profession itself, we realized is a real problem. … Everyone knows what a doctor is, everybody knows what a lawyer is, everybody knows what an accountant is, and everybody knows they make good money, in general, good salaries. So, this whole thing of PR, what is it?”

Another issue
According to Women In PR, women make up two-thirds of the PR industry globally but are not represented this way in the C-suite.

“They [PRWeek] took screenshots of the major agencies and what they did was to look at the leadership team. And the leadership team was heavily male and very few females. Not anyone of color, but not even women, another type of diversity. And that, I think, caused a buzz in our profession, and people committed, or recommitted, to say, ‘We have to do something about this.’ But that was shocking. It was on the front page of PRWeek and, of course, agency leaders did not like that,” said Russell.

Photo via Unsplash

In an industry dominated by women, however, Russell went on to say that a lack of male representation is also not good when approaching a PR problem. She implicated that early on in the fields, marketing was seen more for men, and PR was more for women; women had to use PR to climb up the corporate ladder, and the image of PR being feminine may still exist.

“I’ll never forget one day at Ketchum,” recalled Culp. “There were very few guys in the firm, and three women were assigned a major product account for a razor company. So they were the account team. And they came to [their VP] and said, ‘We need a guy on the team because we are trying to sell this to men.’ The team then added a male member who did not shave, and the team was able to use his diverseness to create a ‘blockbuster PR program that won one of the top awards at PRWeek.’”

Importance of inclusion
Just because diversity exists, doesn’t mean inclusion does, too.

Even though the pipeline seems to be working to get more people of color into the PR industry, Russell thinks that is not enough.

“A lot of people in agencies didn’t feel comfortable, didn’t feel mentored. So they’re going out and becoming individual practitioners. So they didn’t leave the field of PR, which is good, but they didn’t feel comfortable in formal organizations,” said Russell.

The entirety of the PR industry needs to work to make others feel included in a business setting as well as at conferences. Saghy provided an example of inclusion at a PRSSA conference several years ago where they had been discussing the importance of diversity and inclusion all weekend. He entered breakfast one morning and noticed that the only two African-American male students were standing at a table alone.

Photo via Unsplash

“So I walked up to them and struck up a conversation, and I said, ‘What do you guys think of the conference and PR?’ and they said, ‘We’re not really sure if it’s for us.’ That was disheartening because you’re at this conference where most people are saying they’re having a great time. I think they were feeling isolated in that room, and it broke my heart. So, I said ‘Look, guys, you need to know, we’re at the hotel and we’re going to sessions to talk about how important you are. Our profession needs you.’ Sometimes there’s just value in having that direct conversation and saying, ‘Look, your viewpoint is important,’” said Saghy.

As a whole, PR needs to understand diversity and inclusion are essential for success. Though it may not always be easy, PR students, educators and practitioners must continue to grow and expand programs in order to have the viewpoints of all people represented in the industry.

More from The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations:

Transparency and Protection

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Agency Profile: Intermark Group https://platformmagazine.org/2018/12/14/agency-profile-intermark-group/ Fri, 14 Dec 2018 00:42:05 +0000 https://platformmagazine.org/?p=18724 Published on December 13, 2018, at 6:42 p.m. by Anna Jones. In Birmingham, Alabama, there is a company that values exceptional work just as much as it values its own agency culture. That company is Intermark Group, a psychology-driven marketing firm that works with clients such as Toyota, Alabama Tourism, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Jack’s [...]

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Photo by Michel Le

Published on December 13, 2018, at 6:42 p.m.
by Anna Jones.

In Birmingham, Alabama, there is a company that values exceptional work just as much as it values its own agency culture.

That company is Intermark Group, a psychology-driven marketing firm that works with clients such as Toyota, Alabama Tourism, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Jack’s Family Restaurants.

According to Inc., Intermark’s CEO Jake McKenzie majored in psychology at Vanderbilt and has integrated this degree into sales and marketing ever since. This unique psychology-driven approach makes Intermark the largest psychology-driven marketing firm in the country.

According to Summer Wales, senior account executive and intern director, it is this psychology-based approach that differentiates this firm from other marketing firms.

“With every new client, Intermark holds a shape session, which is a collaborative approach to establishing a consistent cross-channel brand voice,” Wales said. “With these results, Intermark can develop a full marketing campaign including creative, digital, public relations, social and media.”

Photo by Michel Le

During its 41 years of business, Intermark has been able to create many unique campaigns, including its Sweet Home Alabama campaign for Alabama Tourism. This experiential campaign focused on engaging the five senses while highlighting experiences one can have when visiting Alabama. This campaign was awarded 14 ADDYs at the 60th annual AAF-Birmingham American Advertising Awards.

However, behind the firm’s award-winning work, there is a deeper motivation. According to Digital Insights Analyst Sam Campbell, Intermark has a company culture that constantly promotes creativity and the free flow of ideas.

“The atmosphere encourages collaboration and creative thinking, and the contemporary buildout of our office is different than what you traditionally see in a corporate setting,” Campbell said.

Intermark fosters a progressive culture through its Interact Committee, office space and professional development opportunities.

“The agency culture is all about mixing work with fun,” said McClelland Schilling, summer 2018 public relations intern. “Intermark works hard but plays harder. They also pride themselves on having a diverse team, and they make sure they showcase what makes everyone unique and a great asset.”

The Interact Committee, Intermark’s event-planning committee, plays a large role in developing agency culture. This committee plans after-work, birthday and holiday activities, as well as other company events. Events include movie days, PJ days, cookie days, Halloween costume contests and staff birthday celebrations.

Photo by Michel Le

“My favorite thing about our culture is that we’re all friends,” Wales said. “I feel like I know a lot about everyone’s personal lives, because we are all so close and comfortable with each other.”

Along with the Interact Committee, Intermark utilizes its office space to promote a collaborative agency culture. In the office, everyone sits in a cube, even the CEO. This setup allows for a free flow of ideas between all employees in the office. There are also think pods throughout the office where employees can brainstorm in a very casual and relaxed environment.

Intermark also offers professional development opportunities in which one person from each department is chosen to complete a two-year leadership program led by McKenzie.

“We come together and learn how we can better lead our departments and help in future work situations,” Wales said.

However, full-time staff members are not the only ones who get to benefit from this culture; interns benefit from it as well.

Intermark has a three-month summer internship program where interns work with a real-life client. Last summer, their client was Milo’s Sweet Tea. They were responsible for developing an entire marketing campaign with social media and digital recommendations that would help build awareness of the brand in emerging markets of the United States. At the end of the summer, the interns pitched their campaign straight to the client.

“My favorite part of my internship at Intermark was working with my intern team. We shared a vision of how we wanted to help Milo’s achieve its goals and we were determined to deliver exceptional work,” Schilling said. “Throughout the entire process, our intern managers were cheering us on and equipping us with everything we needed to succeed. We couldn’t have done it without them.”

Photo by Summer Wales

Outside of producing exceptional work and maintaining a progressive agency culture, Intermark also values giving back to the Birmingham community through programs such as Birmingham Reads, Angel Tree and Children’s Hospital.

“We just really want to make sure that we are a good force in our community,” Wales said.

While the culture, philanthropy and professional development opportunities are perks of working at Intermark, the driving force behind the success of this firm is the 100 employees who make the experience worth it.

“I think the people are what make the difference,” Campbell said. “It’s just an office with diverse people with different ways of thinking and different ideas, and that just makes working here all the better.”

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