by Lindsey Young.
Published on April 13, 2016, at 4:15 p.m.
Every year, PRWeek awards the best and the brightest in the industry for their outstanding achievements. The awards have been established as the communications industry’s highest accolade. The awards celebrate outstanding corporate, agency, nonprofit and education teams, as well as a few select individuals. This year, PRWeek selected one young woman as the Young PR Professional of the Year: Heather Bartman.
As a freshman at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Bartman attended her first agency tour at Fahlgren Mortine and fell in love. Now, as an account executive for the company, Bartman was a unanimous vote for Young PR Professional of the Year.
While attending Scripps, Bartman took advantage of every opportunity available to her. She was an active member of Scripps PRSSA and served as chief executive officer for the student-run firm, ImPRessions. When she graduated in 2013, she began working at her dream agency, Fahlgren Mortine.
“The reason I wanted to be at an agency was that I couldn’t narrow down one sector, one industry or even one skillset that I really wanted to pursue individually,” Bartman said. “I knew at an agency like Fahlgren, I would have the opportunity to be in the consumer business, work on tourism accounts or try learning about healthcare or education. There were all these different clients we had that I just knew I could gain experience in all those areas.”
According to Steve Barrett, editor-in-chief of PRWeek, no other company has had as many finalists as Fahlgren Mortine in this particular category. Bartman was the third winner from Fahlgren Mortine to win the Young PR Professional Award.
Bartman is currently an account executive at Fahlgren Mortine, but says that, at her agency, your title doesn’t define you.
“I try everything,” Bartman said. “I stay curious and I continue to learn from other people. I think that saying yes to a lot of opportunities has given me the chance to gain experience that has gotten me to this point of recognition.”
Bartman lit up as she discussed the recognition she received. Fahlgren Mortine CEO Neil Mortine nominated her for the award, but it required she turn in the ultimate portfolio: about 200 pages long. Hearing what her co-workers had to say about her, and attending the ceremony itself, made the application beyond worth it.
“The award ceremony was the most inspiring thing I ever attended,” Bartman said. “It was such an experience to be in the room with people that I admire so much and who will always be idols to me in the industry. I want everyone who is passionate about the industry to just sit in that room and be so inspired and motivated.”
“Being in the presence of these people that you read about in textbooks and industry publications is so inspiring,” she continued. “It just feels bigger than you. It’s such an honor.”But, how do you become the Young PR Professional of the Year? Bartman offered her various keys to success.
Bartman emphasized the value of constantly learning and inquiring to succeed in the PR field.
“It’s important to stay curious and always ask questions,” Bartman said. “Think strategically and understand what things really mean when they’re put to practice. Think through what your education in college will look like in practice.”
Inspire and be inspired
Bartman spends a lot of her free time working with students. She’s currently the chair of the Liaison Committee at Columbus’ Central Ohio PRSA Chapter. She takes pride in connecting students with professionals in industries they’re interested in, and making an impact in the Central Ohio community.
“When I was in school, I had the opportunity to be mentored by some incredible people,” Bartman said. “I met so many smart people and every single one of them was willing to talk to me. I felt that I owed that service to students when I graduated.”
It is clear that Bartman invests time in students and really does impact their careers.
“Heather always makes an effort to attend Central Ohio PRSA events and makes a point to introduce herself to any students she doesn’t know,” said Leanne Robinett, The Ohio State University PRSSA president. “She also attends conferences and is very open to answering any questions students may have. She’s such a kind and relatable professional and has been such a great resource for internships and connections around the Columbus area. We’re so fortunate to have her.”
It’s important to be passionate about the work you’re doing. It is clear that Bartman is very passionate about the industry. She encourages students to never stop learning. She suggests that you always ask questions and learn from the smart people around you.
“Stay passionate about everything you’re doing,” Bartman said. “That’s what makes good campaigns great — people who want to stay late, not because they have to but because they want to get it right. Those are the people who make a difference in this industry. If you love this industry that’s what you’ll want to do. You want to be a mover and shaker, not a follower.”